Ohiopyle’s Best Raft Guides
Here at Wilderness Voyageurs, we’ve been training Ohiopyle’s best whitewater raft guides since the 1960’s. When Ohiopyle State Park was established in the 1970’s, our founders Lance and Lee Martin worked with park staff to establish the current standards for Ohiopyle’s raft guide certification. We’ve upheld and improved on our original training system ever since, so we can keep providing guests with a fun and safe experience on the river (Did you know? We were the first company to require helmets on the Lower Yough!)
But being a river guide isn’t a job for the faint of heart, nor is the training. Our guides learn that rafting is about more than shooting the rapids and rocking that awesome lifejacket tan. At its core, river guiding is about introducing people to the river, keeping them safe, and keeping a smile on everyone’s face through the whole adventure.
Wilderness Voyageurs and the state of Pennsylvania require prospective guides to complete a guide-training program, take at least 20 commercial trips down the Lower Yough (or comparable river), and have current First Aid and CPR certifications.
How we train our raft guides
We believe our raft guide training program is the best in Ohiopyle. For five weekends in the spring, new trainees show up early in the morning at Wilderness Voyageurs for raft guide bootcamp. Two senior members of our guide staff teach trainees basic to advanced guiding techniques:
- holding a paddle (hand on the t-grip so nobody gets the infamous “summer teeth”)
- paddling a raft all by yourself (the ever-useful “J-Stroke”)
- setting up a rope system to unpin a stuck raft
- how to perform a swift-water rescue
- and so much more!
After a morning classroom session, new trainees suit up and hit the river to practice what they learned.
From day two and until the end of training, class in the morning, then get on the water. Trainees are honestly evaluated on their performance throughout the weekend. When the training course is over, a senior guide evaluates each trainee on a final “check-out run” down the Lower Yough.
Learning how to be a raft guide takes perseverance and commitment. New guides are often cold, tired, pushed to their limits and having the adventure of a lifetime. The ones who make it through have the opportunity to join the ranks of Ohiopyle’s best raft guides! After a summer of whitewater raft guiding, they’ve learned not only whitewater paddling and rescue techniques, but also valuable communication and leadership skills that serve them on and off the water.
We believe that raft guides are gatekeepers to the wonderful, wild world of whitewater. Every day our guides take the non-initiated out of their comfort zone and through that gateway. That’s a privilege, one that Wilderness Voyageurs does not take lightly, and it’s reflected in our river guide training.