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River Guide School in Oregon

Training for Potential River Guides

Professional River Guide School

Learn Boat Handling, Safety, and Rescue Skills Required to Work as River Guide

Pro Guide School

  • Length: 7 Days
  • Dates: May 11-17, 2024
  • Minimum Age: 16
  • Meeting Place: Hood River, Oregon
  • Course Price: $1395
  • Includes: Food, Rafting Gear, Camping Gear, and Top Notch Instruction

Our professional river guide school “Pro Guide School” is designed for anyone looking at developing the skills required to be a river guide. This course is taught by experienced International Rafting Federation (IRF) instructors to strict IRF standards for a guide training program. Graduates can finish the course with a provisional IRF Guide Training & Education (GTE) Award—currently the only globally recognized raft guiding certification—as well as a river rescue certification.

River Guide School Course Content

The focus of the school is paddle guiding, safety, and rescue. Students learn the art of paddle boat guiding on Class II and III rivers, including delivering safety demonstrations and paddle talks. A lot of time is also spent on flipping rafts, throwing rescue lines (throw bags), working with rescue ropes, and swimming rapids.

Raft rescue training on the Hood River
Raft rescue training on the Hood River

Other topics include:

  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Rescue Equipment
  • River Signals
  • Hydrology and Terminology
  • Whitewater Hazards
  • Guide Strokes and Paddle Commands
  • Running Rapids
  • Raft Repair
  • Handling Rescues and Emergencies
  • Managing Pinned and Wrapped Rafts
  • Knots

About This Guide School

This course is designed for potential river guides looking for a high-level and demanding course in a professional environment. In order to deliver the program at the highest level possible, we ask that participants are active, open to challenge, and intending to work as a professional river guide.
We train on the Hood, White Salmon, Klickitat, Clackamas, Wind, and/or Washougal Rivers. The exact location depends on river flows, weather, and the ability of the group. Base camps are established by the Hood and Clackamas Rivers.

About the Instructors

Mark Hirst is originally from the UK and has been involved in the commercial rafting industry since 1998. He is currently the river manager for Viking Rafting in Northern Iceland. When not working for Viking Rafting, Mark runs his own business Lapin Koskikoulu delivering raft guide training & river rescue courses around the globe. Mark is an instructor trainer for both the International Rafting Federation and Rescue 3 Europe.

Zach Collier began guiding in California in 1997 on the American River and soon moved on to work multi-day trips on the Tuolumne and Middle Fork of the Salmon Rivers. In 2004 he left his teaching career to run ECHO River Trips and eventually start Northwest Rafting Company in 2009. He is an International Rafting Federation raft and safety kayak instructor.

We are licensed by the Oregon State Marine Board and operate under special use permit with the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area and Mt. Hood National Forest. Additionally, we are an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Trip Highlights

  • Bond with like-minded rafting pros-in-the-making
  • Learn about paddle boat guiding
  • Develop and practice rescue skills
  • Raft a variety of stunning rivers near Hood River, Oregon
  • Quick Facts

  • Taught by International Rafting Federation (IRF) instructors
  • IRF provisional guide awards are available to graduates
  • Includes a full river rescue course and certificate
  • Only open to students looking to work as a guide
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