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2024 Raft guide school

Skills for a lifetime

Whitewater Guide School

June 9th – 13th, 2024

If you can’t attend this guide school but are interested in a personalized guide school or attending in 2025
please contact us!

What makes WET’s Guide School Different?

WET River Trips Guide School is unsurpassed.

Our instructors are the most experienced, knowledgeable and personable in the industry. With an average of over 16 years (Minimum 12 years) of full time, worldwide guiding experience and multiple credentials. They are acknowledged as among the best guides in the industry.

We focus on the core skills required to both be a successful commercial river guide and private boater.

Spending 5 intensive days on arguably the best river in the world to learn how to guide the South Fork of the American River (we may also do a day or 2 on more difficult rivers, e.g. Middle Fork American River, North Fork American River, or Slab Creek depending on flows and student progression).

The South Fork of the American is a 21-mile section of river with over 50 class II-III rapids that provide every different style of rapid that you would find any where in the world.

We focus on providing the most on-river and experiential learning time possible. By having the opportunity to see and guide the same rapids repeatedly gives our students the opportunity to actually understand, feel and correct mistakes that may have occurred. This will give you a solid understanding and the confidence necessary to build on and progress.

Our guide school will heighten your likelihood of getting work as a professional guide and your private boating skills

Who should go?

  • For Aspiring Professional White Water Guides and Private Boaters
  • Min. Age 16+/- You must be 18 to be hired as a professional  river guide.
  • Anyone who wants to become a river guide or would like to guide their own private trip down the river with skill and confidence.

Our Whitewater Guide School will teach you the skills necessary to be a commercial guide (or very skilled private boater).

It’s ideal for students, seasonal employees, 9-5ers who want a fun side gig they can do a weekend here or there, private boaters who want to enhance their skills or those that just want to spend 5 days on the river with incredible people that more often than not become life-long friends bonded by a once in a life time transformable experience.

You do not need any outdoor or river rafting experience to participate in our guide school. You will learn rafting, camping, problem solving and inter-personal skills that you will carry through you life.

What you will learn at Whitewater Guide School.

Our intensive-experiential Guide School emphasizes learning to read whitewater, raft maneuvering, safety techniques, swift water rescue skills, camp skills, food prep, equipment care, river safety, natural history and the techniques to provide and exceptional, safe and fun river trip.

You will receive personalized instruction in all facets of professional guiding. You will guide and rig boats, give safety talks, train paddlers, flip boats, re-flip boats, scout rapids, rescue swimmers, swim rapids, cook and much more. You will be challenged every day, exhausted every night and more skilled for the rest of your life.

While we focus on getting you on the river as much as possible, your instruction will be augmented with off-river sessions where you will learn details about river anatomy, rescue scenarios, knots, raft repair, rigging and much more.

During this 5 day Guide School you will be provided the opportunity, knowledge and skill base for:

  • Guiding paddle boats on whitewater rivers
  • Swiftwater rescue techniques
  • Understanding river hydrology
  • Logistics and equipment for river trips
  • Elements to be a professional river guide

It is not uncommon for people to excel in some areas and struggle with others. Don’t worry, this school is taught in an inclusive manner. All participants will be encouraged to excel and challenge themselves, no matter where their skill level is or where they are in their learning process. Whitewater guiding is a challenging activity that requires constant practice. Guide school is not the end of learning, it is just the beginning. If you want to be a good whitewater guide you should try to learn something every day you are around the river.

Guide Training On:

  • River Anatomy – Reading Rapids
  • Teamwork and Leadership Skills
  • River Safety
  • Boating Gear and Equipment – Usage and Care
  • Commercial River Operations and Logistics
  • Customer Service
  • Whitewater Paddling Techniques
  • River Etiquette
  • Problem Solving
  • Emergencies and River Rescue
  • Knots and Rigging
  • Meal Preparation
  • Natural and Local History
  • Professional Guiding Requirements
  • Leading safe, fun whitewater rafting trips

River Guide School Topics:

Trip Preparation

  • Inventory of trip equipment
  • Loading and rigging equipment for transportation
  • Put-in Procedures
  • Rigging Boats
  • Pre-River Safety Talks
  • Equipment Maintenance and Repair

Swiftwater Rescue

  • Self rescue
  • Flipped Rafts
  • Wraps
  • Boat rips
  • River Gear
  • River 1st Aid
  • Guide Skills
  • Throw Bag Skills
  • Knots and Rope Systems

Kitchen and Food Prep

  • Sanitation
  • Meal Prep/Cooking/Serving – Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
  • Kitchen Etiquette
  • Meal Clean-up

Customer Interaction

  • Care and Instruction
  • Professionalism
  • Legal & Liability

Boating Skills

  • Individual Raft Safety Instruction
  • Crew Instruction
  • Customer Safety
  • Paddle Instruction
  • River Hydrology and Dynamics
  • River Navigation
  • Scouting rapids
  • Reading Whitewater
  • Raft maneuvering
  • Use of current and crew
  • Ferry Angles
  • Eddy Catching and Exiting
  • River Etiquette
  • Team Boating
  • Assisting another boat
  • Swimming
  • Getting swimmers back in raft
  • River Signals and Communication


We actually consider our guide schools an investment in our future. While it is definitely open and beneficial to all, and there is no guarantee of employment upon completion, it is our hope to find 1 or more students that have the personality, demeanor and work ethics that we look for in our guides. This is why we actually run our guide school at a loss (a 5 day trip like this would cost $1807.92) and we may even be able to offer finance options to the right applicants.

Lodging Option – $700

  • 5 days of Instruction
  • Equipment (Life jacket, helmet, paddle raft, etc.)
  • Lunch every day
  • Breakfast 4 days 
  • Dinner 4 days
  • Camping
  • Tax and Government Fees

Commute Option – $600

  • 5 days of Instruction
  • Equipment (Life jackets, helmet, paddle, raft, etc.)
  • Lunch every day
  • Tax and Government Fees

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