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So, You Want to Be a Guide

This is how we roll at Adventures on the Gorge: we show you such an amazing time that you quit your day job to move here and become a guide. That may be hyperbole, but it’s not just a joke. Our guide staff—river, rock, zip, etc.—is peppered with people who, in some cases, gave up promising careers in business, law, geology, psychology and more to drive boats, rig ropes and otherwise play with people outside.

Being a guide is a calling, but more so than just a yen to work in the wilds of West Virginia. “Most guides started doing what they do, because they love the ride,” says Adventures on the Gorge Operations Manager, Roger Wilson. “But they stay because they love people. They love entertaining people. They love sharing knowledge, history, jokes—especially jokes.”

Okay, so you’ve got the desire to work outdoors and you love people? Great, now here’s what you have to do to make your dream of becoming one of the lowest paid professional athletes on Earth a reality.

  1. Don’t quit your day job yet. Fill out an application in December or January, and then email hr@onthegorge.com to let them know you’re champing at the bit to drive rafts, scale cliffs and ride lines for a living.
  2. Get some experience. For some guide positions, you don’t have to be a seasoned pro before training. We have some outstanding raft and zip guides on staff who never rafted or zipped before filling out an application. For others, like rock climbing, you need to have a substantial amount of experience before we’ll hire you.
  3. Save some money up, and get into a training class. We don’t charge to train you, but we don’t pay you, either.
  4. Get checked out. The check out processes for all of our guide positions are extensive. To be a raft guide, for example, the WVDNR requires you to have at least 15 training runs, two familiarization runs and one formal check-out run. Familiarization and check-out runs have to happen for each section of river you might guide. 

    For climbing, you have to take the AMGA Single-Pitch Instructor course, guide a number of days and then pass the AMGA exam—and you can’t even take the course without already having a bunch of climbing experience prior. 

    For zip lining, you have to master a whole range of technical and rescue skills—and pass a practical exam on them.

    Other adventures, like mountain biking, SUP, hiking and paintball require their own sets of hoops through which you must jump.

Congratulations, you’re well on your way to being a guide. Or maybe you’ve decided it’s not for you? That’s okay. We still love you, and we still want to play wild with you!

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