River Guiding is one of the greatest jobs on earth with worldwide opportunity. It is a way of combining international employment with enjoyment and excitement in the outdoors. River Guiding presents challenges, requiring considerable skill and knowledge. It is an occupation that develops personal confidence, positive people skills and leadership ability.

Each year Chinook Rafting trains several new guides as a way of introducing them into the industry and lifestyle. Many of our valued staff members are prior graduates of this program and have gone on to work on rivers around the world.

Students also join the Guide’s course with no interest in becoming commercial guides, but do so for the fun, adventure and learning. Some go on to enjoy whitewater rafting as a personal hobby.


  • General knowledge of rafts & equipment (including construction and repair);Guiding skills such as steering a paddle & oar raft, paddling commands, raft leadership, ethics, leadership skills and interpersonal skills, duty of care, signals, & conducting a safety talk;
  • Rescue techniques and Incident Management such as survival swimming, self-rescue, capsize scenarios, flip drills, rope systems, first aid and dealing with emergency situations;
  • General understanding of the whitewater industry (including a Q & A session about a career in the whitewater industry)

Our goal is to graduate skilled, knowledgeable and marketable river guides, with the confidence to run rivers safely. Our course therefore involves 10 days of intensive training, combining theory with action-packed full days of on and in the water training. As the course progresses, so do the challenges. Begin on the introductory rapids of the Kananaskis and progress on to the harder rapids of the Horseshoe Canyon, Bow River (water dependent).

Candidates who excel during the 10 days may be offered a seasonal position with Chinook Rafting during which time further training will precede employment during the summer.

A comprehensive Training Outline is provided to you after fees have been submitted.


Be trained by industry specialists! Our Instructors bring with them a wealth of knowledge, experience, enthusiasm and a fun-loving attitude.

Richard van der Ploeg is Chinook Rafting’s Operations Manager. He is originally from the Netherlands and during his time studying mechanical engineering, Richard took every opportunity to sneak off and play in the water. Summers were spent guiding in beautiful Slovenia with rafting on the Soca river and canyoning and caving. Expeditions and work brought him to Canada, La Reunion, Italy, Sri Lanka, Azores, New Zealand, Honduras and other gems. With over 15 years of experience in outdoor tourism, he’s now a full-time raft guide. International certifications include Rescue 3 International Swiftwater Advanced, Alberta PROAOA rafting examiner, and he has been trained in Wilderness Advanced First Aid. Richard has been involved with the Raft Guide Course for over 4 years.

Marshall Ezelle has worked for Chinook Rafting for over 5 years and loves teaching. He has been raft guiding for over 15 years on rivers in Alaska, New Zealand and Canada and has guided professionally on the Talkeetna, Susitna, Chulitna, Nenana, Lowe, Tsaina, Tonsina, Gulkana, Waikato, Shotover, Skookumchuck, Bow, and Kananaskis Rivers. He is an SRT instructor. His rafting qualifications come from the New Zealand River Workshop and Alberta PROAOA. He has been trained in Wilderness Advanced First Aid. Marshall has a huge passion for rivers and is excited to show you why he does what he does. Oh, and he has been helping train our students and staff for over 4 years too!

Chris Burnham will be the SRT instructor for the course. He has been involved in the rafting and kayaking industry for over 25 years both locally and around the world, including working on rivers in the UK, France, Norway, USA, Canada, Argentina, Chile, India, Nepal, & Africa amongst others. For many years he was the Operations Manager at Chinook Rafting. He is an examiner for the BC and AB River Outfitters Association, a certified kayaking instructor, a Swiftwater & Ice Rescue Technical Instructor for Rescue 3 International, and an Emergency Medical and Advanced Wilderness First Responder, and still finds time to go on the river often (as that’s where he still love to be). In his spare time, he is also a Volunteer Fire Fighter with the Banff Fire Department.

All of our guest instructors also have many years of rafting experience under their belts and are holders of valid First-aid or Wilderness First-aid certificates and are qualified Swift Water Rescue Technicians as a minimum standard.

We ensure a guide-to-client ratio that guarantees you will be able to maximize your learning experience.


  • 10 full days of training and instruction
  • All the necessary rafting & safety equipment during the course, such as rafts, paddles, throwbags, ropes & 1st Aid Kits  – Chinook Rafting’s state of the art fleet consists of 100% self-bailing rafts and uses only top of the line equipment for your safety and enjoyment. All of our equipment was brand new during the past 3 – 5 years.
  • All training manuals and literature to keep on course completion.
  • “The Complete Whitewater Rafter Book” by Jeff Bennett – the essential white water rafting manual for professional guides, instructors, and recreational river runners everywhere. This book compiles information on oar and paddle techniques; equipment and accessories; hydrology and river reading; safety and rescue; camping and cookery; maintenance and repair; guidebooks and resources; where the jobs are; history; whitewater photography; and much, much more.
  • Rescue 3 International Swiftwater Rescue Technician Level 1 Certification (assuming you pass).
  • Professional River Outfitters Association of Alberta (PROAOA) Guiding Certification (assuming you pass) and Guides Logbook.


  • Rescue 3 International Swiftwater Rescue Technician Level 1 Certification – the legal standard of care in Canada and recognized in over 20 countries worldwide (allowing you the opportunity to travel, guide and experience / work on rivers around the world). Once certified through Rescue 3 International you can recertify in the future, anywhere around the world that offers a Rescue 3 International course.
  • Professional River Outfitters Association of Alberta (PROAOA) Guiding Certification & PROAOA Guide log book (if on course completion you are not ready to sit the PROAOA exam a certificate of course completion stating the topics covered will be given instead).

Please note that all participants must already hold a valid first aid (minimum 16hr course) and CPR ‘C’ qualification to qualify for Swiftwater Rescue & PROAOA Certification.


  • Applicants must be a minimum of 18 years of age, be a competent swimmer and in good physical condition.
  • Applicants wishing to be considered for employment with Chinook Rafting after the course must have an interest in long term employment in the river rafting industry.
  • Applicants must be available to continue training and working for the entire season.
  • A valid driver’s license with a good drivers abstract is required prior to accepting employment with Chinook Rafting.


We have had a great time on the water during the 2020 summer and rafted safely with our COVID-19 protocols in place. We are convinced that with similar restrictions, we can accommodate this training course well. If the current situation changes to such a degree that the course will have to be adjusted, then all participants will be notified of this in advance.

COVID-19 protocols for the Guides Course will be released closer to the time to make sure we are up-to-date and conform to the latest regulations, as we want you and our staff to be safe.


The price for the 2021 Chinook Rafting Guides Course is $1,199 + 5% gst.

Successful completion of this course will allow you to qualify as a river guide applicant for employment with Chinook Rafting. We usually hire 2-3 trainee guides, sometimes more (out of approximately 4-6) from our course. If you are one of those who gain employment with Chinook Rafting as a trainee guide and then commit to us for the whole of the forthcoming season we will reimburse you half of the course costs on completion of that season (usually in mid September).

If you would like to be considered for a position as a trainee guide with Chinook Rafting after the Raft Guides Course is completed then please send your resume and cover letter stating that you have applied for the Raft Guides Course to richard@chinookrafting.com prior to March 28th, 2021. Only those qualifying for an interview will be contacted.


How to Book

To confirm your spot, please complete the Raft Guides Course Application Form and submit it with your $200 CDN deposit by e-transfer or cheque. Cheques to be made payable to Chinook River Sports Ltd.

Applications can be emailed to richard@chinookrafting.com & cheques to be posted to Richard van der Ploeg, Chinook Rafting, Box 308, Banff, AB. T1L 1E3. Canada

Balance of fee is due by e-transfer or cheque by March 28th, 2021.

Although we take every precaution to ensure that you have an enjoyable and fun course, white water rafting does have inherent risks.  A release/waiver must therefore be signed prior to the course and is a condition of participation.

Applications for the forthcoming Raft Guides Course should be received prior to March 28th,  2021 to secure your spot. Contact us at richard@chinookrafting.com if you miss the deadline and we can check to see if there is still space available.


Deposits are fully refundable if cancelled in writing up to 45 days prior to the commencement of the Raft Guides Course.

No refunds will be issued for any reason for cancellations requested after the 45-day deadline.

Note: Chinook Rafting reserves the right to cancel any excursions due to; unsafe water conditions, poor weather, increased COVID-19 restrictions, and other circumstances beyond our control or if minimum numbers for the course are not met. If the Guides Course is cancelled, you may choose to reschedule or we will promptly refund your deposit/payment in full.


Wednesday 28th April – Friday 7th May 2021 (10 days duration).

You must attend all 10 days in order to sit the PROAOA guiding exams and to be eligible for employment with Chinook Rafting. Our commercial rafting season, like most out there, begins shortly following the course.

If you currently have whitewater rafting experience and hold an expired PROAOA license, or a raft guide license from another province/country and would like to be certified to guide in Alberta, please contact richard@chinookrafting.com for more details.

See you on the river!


Please fill out the following application form and follow the mailing instructions inside.

River Guides Course Application 2021