Updated: Apr 29, 2022
I've been lucky enough to run and help with running a number of International Rafting Federation Workshops over the last few years in Europe and most recently in the USA. Fresh back from a fantastic trip to Oregon, working with Northwest Rafting Company and Lapinkoskikoulu, we delivered an IRF workshop to 12 raft guides from a variety of locations. The week was full of success, with everybody gaining awards at some level, but most importantly horizons were being broadened and everyone were becoming better guides!
Why choose the IRF path?
What are IRF workshops doing? To answer that as simply as possible, they are sharing best global common practice, experience needed and certification to raft guides, trip leaders and instructors, but also safety kayakers and whitewater craft leaders in general. It's no secret that we all do things a little different, especially country to country. By bringing a global standard we not only can make our activities safer, but progress the sport by sharing ideas and highlighting things we potentially need to change in our practices as guides or as a company.
How do the workshops work?
Workshops are just that, a workshop over a number of days (usually 5) where participants are assessed on a number of criteria, but also trained and given the opportunity to progress. Depending on who is leading the workshop and level of instructor they are, participants can walk away with raft guide, trip leader, safety kayak/craft among other awards. If participants have the experience and skills, they can be assessed to whatever level they are ready for. Ask anyone who has been on an IRF workshop, the standards are high, but the stress levels are low. Your instructors want you to succeed, and they will do what they can to get you there during the workshop.
Do I need to do a training course first?
In short, no. The award and level you are assessed at during a workshop revolves around your logbook hours (experience) and your skills. So whether you have one season under your belt, or 10, you'll be assessed at the level you're at. There are no formal IRF training courses to prepare for a workshop.
How can I find a workshop near me?
The best place to find future workshops in your country or area is by heading to the IRF website www.internationalrafting.com and look at the GTE workshops/ Assessments page, there you can find out when and where future courses are running. Can't find one? get in touch with the IRF direct and they will be able to advice you or pass you onto an IRF provider in your area to makes plans.
So how did it go in Oregon?
What a fantastic trip. Zach Collier from Northwest Rafting Company hosted the workshop and provided fantastic logistics and sections to paddle on. We had a busy 8 days laid out as we had guide awards, trip leader, safety kayak and instructor awards to work through and assess! We paddled a different section of whitewater everyday, which really added to the course. Sections of the White Salmon, Wind, Hood and West Branch of the Hood were all high quality whitewater and ideal for our needs.
We had a wide range of experience and abilities on the workshop which really actually helps the workshop as less experienced guides get a heap of knowledge and experience, and potential instructor candidates gain experience teaching those who need it. Everybody had a fantastic week and left with something. Zach, Will and myself also completed our Instructor Level 4 sign offs and will now be providing workshops within the USA and Canada.
Want to know more? Feel free to reach out to us here at New England Adventure Sports or get in touch with the IRF!