We’re excited that you’re interested in the Mother Lode Guide School! We have an amazing team of instructors and we’re located on one of the best rivers in California. We’re sure you have lots of questions, so let’s start answering them.
SHOULD I ATTEND GUIDE SCHOOL?
Guide School is a peak experience whether you want to be commercial guide, or simply want to hone your skills as a private boater. The Mother Lode Guide School offers a variety of options that suit a wide variety of goals, prior experience, and physical ability. So YES, you should attend Guide School! The real question is: which option suits you best?
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT OPTIONS?
The five day “Guide School” option will arm you with the knowledge and skills you need to get out there and start having fun as a private boater. If you have limited time, this is a great introduction to guiding.
The seven day option is for those who hunger for more whitewater, or want to guide commercially. This option includes “Friends and Family Weekend” during which you can invite your friends and family to jump into a boat that you guide! This is a super fun way to show off your newly acquired skills and also gives you a good idea of what it’s like to be a professional guide. It also boosts your personal “stick time” by 40% overall, a massive increase, and since instructors will accompany you in separate boats to provide safety, they can better observe your performance. Their final evaluation is resultantly far more comprehensive.
Nine day option– ProTrack. This is the most time efficient way of training to be a guide with Mother Lode. It includes two days prior to Guide School during which you obtain the internationally recognized River Rescue Certification with Rescue 3 affiliated Sierra Rescue. We find that the knowledge and skills included in RRC training are great preparation for Guide School.
WHEN IS GUIDE SCHOOL?
Guide School: June 18-22
Guide School with Friends and Family Weekend: June 18-24
ProTrack: June 16-24
HOW MUCH DOES GUIDE SCHOOL COST?
Guide School: $650 (Friends and Family Weekend is included)
IS THAT A GOOD DEAL? WHAT AM I GETTING FOR MY MONEY?
You’re a discerning customer looking for great value, we like that! Here’s what you’re getting:
-All Instruction (Includes land-based theory, multiple days on the river)
-Personal rafting equipment (wetsuit, PFD, helmet, splash jacket)
-Rafting gear (the big stuff like boats!)
-All shuttles (a ride back to camp after every trip, including Friends and Family Weekend)
-Accommodation (camp site, tent, sleeping pad, and secure parking)
-Group meals (from Monday breakfast to Friday dinner)
-Pre-trip packet (pre-trip packing list, itinerary, outline of what to expect)
Total retail value of Guide School is $1450—you are saving over $800. We love sharing our knowledge of rivers with you and this is part of our investment in your success.
HOW CAN I GET HIRED AS A GUIDE?
Most commercial companies hire from their own guide schools. Mother Lode is no exception, so attending our Guide School is a great first step toward being selected. One compelling reason is that companies tend to hire people they know, and Guide School is a great way to get to know someone. Working hard, being punctual, pulling more than your own weight, being enthusiastic and getting along with others can be just as important as your guiding skills.
Bottom line: Last season 50% of our graduates worked commercially and 33% were hired by our company. This is an exceptionally high percentage and reflects the quality of our students and effectiveness of our training program. Our social media reviews consistently rave about our guides. You will be joining a great team!
WHAT COMES AFTER GUIDE SCHOOL?
Five, seven, even the nine day option – these are only a portion of what it will take to learn to successfully guide a commercial river trip. Being selected to continue after Guide School begins the process called “checking off” in which the trainee guide is backed up by an experienced guide on commercial trips. This process continues until your instructors feel comfortable letting you “solo” with commercial customers. You have then graduated to being a paid commercial guide! How long this takes varies with each individual.
Mother Lode is unique in that we are not only a rafting company, but also a Challenge Ropes and Outdoor Education Program. Having skills in these other areas not only makes it more likely to be selected for guide training, it gives some folks a way of earning money before they “check off” as a guide.
CAN YOU GIVE US A TASTE OF THE SPECIAL SAUCE THAT MAKES MOTHER LODE STAND OUT?
Our guide school is patterned after a commercial whitewater rafting trip, yet it is not boot camp. Although you will be rising early, working hard, and pushing your comfort zone at times, you will do so in an atmosphere that encourages growth, learning, and camaraderie.
We accept a maximum of 12 students per year, maintaining a 4:1 student to instructor ratio. This means that you’ll get more time guiding and better personal instruction from our teachers. This is critical to a successful learning experience.
Our instructors have been lauded for their vast knowledge, accessibility, and ability to create a fun environment to learn in. They will be challenging and encouraging you through various tasks that you will be pushed to accomplish both together and individually, creating the perfect soup from which guides will emerge.
And what better way to show off your newly acquired skills than Friends and Family Weekend! You will be in command of your own raft under the supervision of your instructors. This unique opportunity gives you even more time guiding, this time with paddlers who aren’t also guides, giving you a great window into what it’s like to introduce people to the exciting world of whitewater.
Lastly, Mother Lode was the first company (back in 1982) to incorporate the international standard for swiftwater training, River Rescue Certification with Rescue 3, into its guide training and also to require it of all our commercial guides. We find that guides who complete this training prior to guide school not only posses an internationally recognized certification, but also progress more quickly in guide school.
FRIENDS AND FAMILY WEEKEND SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE! IS IT?
Friends and Family Weekend is incredibly popular—and for good reason. Anyone you invite gets to go rafting virtually free! They will need to rent personal rafting equipment and pay river fees, combined cost typically under $20. Camping at our standard low rates starting of just $15/person a night. Of course, you’ll want to make sure that whoever you invite is in decent physical shape, a capable swimmer, and excited about the prospect of getting wet.
I’M EXCITED ABOUT GUIDE SCHOOL! HOW DO I SIGN UP?
We’re excited too! All you have to do to sign up is give us a call at (530)626-4187. Our office staff, headed up by Penny, can also answer any other questions that you may have. You can also email our Rafting Manager directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions. We don’t want anything to keep you from achieving your whitewater dreams!
“I was also very impressed on how they handled the different ages, levels, and career aspirations of the class. There were youngsters with little rafting experience who wanted eventual summer jobs and old guys like me with rafting experience looking for a bit more adventure. In each case, they tailored the training to ensure needs were met.” -Croc M.
SEE YOU ON THE RIVER!
Whitewater Program Manager