With Southern California’s snow pack hovering around 100% of normal, Kern River rafting enthusiasts now are waiting for melting snow to turn to whitewater. In April, Kern River Outfitters will host their annual Whitewater School. The school is a six-day course designed to teach the basics of being a whitewater rafting guide. “It’s essentially a six day interview,” says Kern River Outfitters general manager Keith “Luther” Stephens.
Starting on Saturday, April 17th, approximately ten whitewater school participants will trade jeans for wetsuits, cell phones for paddles, and begin training to become guides on Southern California’s famous Kern River. Many of the participants won’t have had any guiding experience and some may not have even been in a raft before. “What we look for in a guide is someone who is personable,” Stephens says. “Our guides are what make Kern River Outfitters stand out. They’re friendly, customer oriented, and they have a passion for being outside and guiding.”
Although most of the Kern River whitewater school participants will be college students looking for a summer job, some will be working professionals who seek a life change. Stephens notes that his current guide staff includes nurses, teachers, and self-employed entrepreneurs. “Our guides are a diverse mix of people, which is great for our organization,” he says. Guides who come back to the Kern every summer become part of a veteran core-group. “They’re essentially the leaders. Our younger and new guides look up to them. Our history on the Kern River goes back nearly 30 years and our veteran guides still carry on the culture and reputation that helped us grow to where we are now.”
Stephens projects that this year’s whitewater school will face challenges not seen in recent years. The above average snow pack means water will be higher and faster than usual. Participants will have to learn more quickly, or face an accidental cold swim in the river. “On the bright side,” Stephens muses, “this year’s class will probably yield some outstanding river guides.” On the river, nothing is a better chalkboard and teacher than nature itself and the whitewater class of 2010 will learn this better than anyone.
For more information about Kern River Outfitters 2010 Kern rafting season please visit their website at http://www.KernRafting.com. For additional information about becoming a guide for Kern River Outfitters, call them at 1-800-323-4234.