We love where we work! From the river to the mountains to the town of Golden itself, the environment we immerse ourselves in daily creates an enjoyable atmosphere. It's a reason the majority of our staff return year-after-year and we're sharing 5 lessons we've learned from working in the whitewater river rafting industry.

Just like the river itself, there are always challenges to overcome.

And that's the beauty of rivers – they are constantly flowing, and always changing. It's one of the many reasons the Kicking Horse River has taught us so much over the years.

Here are 5 of the lessons our staff have picked up working at Glacier Raft Company, while spending most of their summer hanging out on the water, and around our rafting base.

5 Lessons from Working at a Whitewater River Rafting Company

1. You can overcome anything


Glacier Raft Company, Golden BC owners Ryan and Carmen

Ryan and Carmen, Glacier's owners


Running a rafting company has its challenges, something that Carmen Narancsik, one of Glacier’s owners, knows very well. In the years that she has managed the scene here, she has learned that you need to be prepared for the unexpected.

“You can overcome anything,” she explains, adding that although you can plan for a day, it typically never works out the way you imagine. In addition to all the regular tasks that need to completed, new issues and problems tend to pop out of nowhere.

“You just find a way to deal with it all.” You need to be open, and you have to be adaptable, she adds.

You start to realize that there are always going to be things that come up, and overtime you learn that things that seemed like a big deal at the time were just part of running a business.

"If you look back at the last year or two and think about all the things that stressed you out, you'll see that you found a way to get through them. They're all manageable with a bit of patience, a lot of hard work and an attitude that you'll always figure it out eventually".

The challenges are all part or trying to do something meaningful.

TAKE AWAY - Things will come up and challenges will always exist, but everything can be figured out with a good work ethic and positive mindset.


2. Be confident


A crew of friends rafting on the Kicking Horse

Chad and his crew whitewater river rafting in the middle canyon of the Kicking Horse


There's a reason the old saying ‘confidence is key’ exists and, it applies directly to river culture – especially for raft guides who are responsible for the safety of their guests every day.

Raft guides must have confidence in their abilities on the river because there is risk involved. They need to be able to think on their feet and trust their instincts to ensure everything goes smoothly.

Most guests have never been whitewater river rafting and many people who show up are really, really nervous.

Chad Nogler, one of our most seasoned guides, says that, "guides need to maintain their confidence out on the water to help ensure guests feel comfortable and safe".

Our guests comment all the time that the knowledge, experience and professionalism of their guide made their day much more enjoyable. It allowed them to relax and fully experience being on the river.

Confidence plays a big role in creating a safe environment, “but don’t listen to that ego of yours”, adds Chad.

TAKE AWAY - Work hard and hone your skills to make you an expert in your field. Your confidence will put those around you at ease.


3. Be honest


A raft full of guests whitewater river rafting on the Kicking Horse

Our guide Mike and his crew on the Kicking Horse


Honesty is a virtue we all should strive to attain, and that stretches far beyond communication with others around you. Although that's important, it is yourself you need to be honest with.

This is one lesson raft guide Mike Reeder is reminded of every day he heads down the river.

“You are going to have bad lines, and bad days - especially with white water,” he explains. You just can’t be afraid to admit your mistakes, he adds, because you learn each time you are out on the water.

The best raft guides (and people in general) are those who don't claim to know everything. Things change, there's always more to learn, skills can be honed, new techniques can be tried.

“Don’t dismiss what people say to you,” says Mike, as feedback is only meant to benefit and make you a stronger paddler.

We're lucky at Glacier to have the close knit crew we do. Everyone cares about each other and looks out for one another, and the suggestions and constructive criticisms we share are always meant to help each other grow.

TAKE AWAY - Be open to learning. There are always things we can do to grow and better ourselves and it's important to have that mindset. No one is perfect.


4. The importance of priorities


Glacier office staff, Laura, surfing in Costa Rica

Laura surfing in Costa Rica


We live in a fast paced society where it often seems like there's lots to be done, and things can sometimes feel overwhelming.

While it can be easy to get caught up in this hectic pace, it's really important to balance and prioritize.

This is one lesson Laura Kluz, a member of our office staff, has witnessed first-hand during her few years working at Glacier.

“Everyone here is so active all the time – whether it's mountain biking, running, hiking or kayaking, people really focus on doing the things they love outside of work” explains Laura.

While our guides love what they do and enjoy spending as much time as they can on the river, working all the time is not generally the personal priority of the staff.

“You really start to understand that the lifestyle of so many of the Glacier staff focuses on the importance of creating a work-life balance, and making sure they have time for their personal priorities - whether that is adventuring or a simple activity such as relaxing and reading.”

This is health, she says, and one of the most important kinds.

Taking care of your mental state is really important and it plays a vital role in ensuring staff come to work alert and happy.

“When people find happiness through a focus, it really allows their personality to shine,” adds Laura.

TAKE AWAY - Make time for the things you love to do. Finding balance is important and will make you a happier person


5. Teamwork, teamwork, teamwork


Cheers to another fun day of whitewater river rafting

A cheers from our guides to everyone working together!


We are a tight team here at Glacier, and we wouldn't run successful trips if we didn't acknowledge that it takes all of our staff to run the show.

From guides to drivers to office staff to photographers, we all have our roles that contribute to the fun days on the river for our guests.

Teamwork plays a huge part in ensuring the days run smoothly, and most of our staff have different educational and work backgrounds which allows everyone’s strengths to be utilized. This creates a fun, yet resourceful team dynamic.

“You learn to play to everyone's strengths,” explains Chad. “Like the intro talk. I'm horrible at it, so I let other people do that.”

Creating a work environment where people get along, where everyone is respected and valued is critical to a happy team and successful business.

TAKE AWAY - For happy staff and a smooth business, pretty much everything is better when people work together.


Many guests of Glacier Raft Company giving a thumbs up to whitewater river rafting

A big thumbs up from our rafting guests for everyone working together


No matter who is working, or what obstacles we face - whether it is out on the river, or back at the warehouse – we work through it all together.

We've learned to be serious when we have to be, joke when the time is right, and at the end of the day, we typically find a way to laugh at the circumstances we put ourselves in.

“We're so team-spirited, we really are like one big family,” says our star driver Eric, adding a little fist-pump action.

We all wake up and go after it. Then we repeat.

And there you have it. Five lessons we've learned from the whitewater river rafting industry. If you have any questions please leave a comment below or email trips@glacierraft.com

Cheers from all of us here at Glacier!


If you're feeling inspired to come meet our crew and get out on the Kicking Horse River, we'd love to have you book a whitewater river rafting trip with us.