A little stinky, sunburnt, and always ready for a free meal. If you are not directly involved in the mystical world of whitewater, dating someone who makes a living from it can be exciting and frankly weird. Whitewater rafting guides might not be the perfect person to bring home to meet your parents, but only if your parents can’t find humor and a tinge of excitement as they hear about harrowing class V rapids, living in an old school bus, or the latest custie who wore jeans on the river. To help ease all these unknowns of dating a raft guide, here are 8 things you should know before getting in too deep.

Now, this is a task I wouldn’t feel right taking on by myself. I recruited some of my whitewater cohorts to help me brainstorm the most important aspects of loving and dating a raft guide. Check them out after reading the list to learn more about them!

  1. Every day showers are not a priority.

Let’s face it, they just aren’t! When you spend your days in and around water, you’re basically in one gigantic bath the whole time. We basically live in the river, so even when we do wash up its normally in a Roman style, river-wide celebration. Just make sure to bring your favorite biodegradable soap (You can do your armpit and dishes with this one!) and a loofa.

  1. Always up for a spontaneous adventure or a play run on the river (Abby S.)

While we do love a good movie and cuddle puddle, whitewater guides are always up for a new adventure or a play run on the river with friends. We spend most of our time bringing guests on adventures so even just hopping back on the river with rafts, kayaks, and a cooler of PBR is like a vacation to us! Take us hiking, skiing, climbing, riding, anything you want. We are in.

  1. We LOVE our jobs (Mason G.)

Some would say working 7 days a week is a nightmare. To us, it’s awesome! During the busiest parts of the whitewater season, there are rafts on the river every day and that couldn’t make us happier! Our coworkers become more like family, so working every day is basically just doing rad things with your friends. Not everyone gets to call the back of a raft their office.

  1. Raft guides have big personalities and can be a little flirtatious (Francis W.)

If you’re a person who tends to get jealous easily, maybe dating a raft guide isn’t for you. For starters, we are typically very warm and affectionate people. Mix that with large river egos and the possibility of a tip and you’ll see a guide become seemingly flirtatious with their guests (male and female). Don’t worry though, this is just part of who we are. At the end of the day, you’re the one we bring our big hearts back to.

  1. Beer is like water, even if its warm (Austin M.)

We love beer and a good social event! The beers can disappear quickly, and it doesn’t matter what brand or what temperature. Don’t get dismayed at the occasional “booty beer” after your lover dumps a raft or takes a swim themselves.

*A booty beer is when you have to drink a whole beer from your rafting/kayaking footwear. Yes, it is gross but tradition is tradition.

  1. Easily entertained and easily distracted (Nick R.)

We love to do a lot of things, and sometimes we can get easily overwhelmed. We often times don’t even realize this. Your raft guide partner can seem to be all over the place sometimes, but that is just how we operate. We are used to having multiple people, many who can’t swim or even paddle correctly, in dangerous sections of rapids. We thrive in a state of chaos! Sometimes a gentle nudge from you is needed to bring us back to a certain task.

  1. Don’t take it personally if we knock you out of a raft (Justin S.)

The whitewater guide crucible always includes a good swim through the rapids. Your guide boyfriend or girlfriend might want to test your ability to handle such adversity and knock you out of a raft on purpose. Don’t take it personally! They are doing this out of love! They will be right there to pull you back in, so put a smile on your face and get your nose and toes pointed downriver. Of course, be careful getting into a raft after an argument… 😉

  1. Great with small talk (Madi G.)

We are masters in holding an audience and asking thought-provoking questions. It’s part of the job to engage and connect with our rafters, and its become part of our normal routine whenever we meet someone new! We genuinely care to hear about a person’s passions, career fields, family, and favorite superhero movie. Be warned, your family will latch on quickly and the conversations might last forever. We don’t mind talking about our riverside tent abodes or converted school bus living quarters. We are open to sharing all about our amazing lifestyles with anyone who cares to listen!

At the end of the day, raft guides are usually a special type of person capable of giving you an immense amount of love. Just keep these thoughts in mind as you navigate your relationship. Relationships are like rivers. They are always changing from rough rapid sections to the beautiful scenic floats. The beauty of it all is in the entire adventure.

Meet the Guides: These are the epic friends of mine who gave some of their insight into this article! Check them out on social media!

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Madi G. –  Between helping all of the office staff and guiding trips, Madi does a little of everything at Wildman Adventure Resort. Madi is a great guide and the owner of a sustainability blog called Green Foresters. Check out her blog and follow her on Instagram at madi_giordano!
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Justin S. – His rowdy antics on some of the eastern United States’ greatest rivers made him a whitewater legend. Now he spends his time as the owner of Shurr Adventures. Looking for a vacation? Check them out in Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, the Florida Everglades, and on Instagram @shurradventures!
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Abby S.- Abby has guided massive whitewater on the Kennebec and Dead rivers, the best the northeast USA has to offer! She was also my roommate and coworker during my time working in the Florida Everglades. Abby joins the elite group of badass women in the outdoor industry! Follow her on Instagram: @abbysully
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Mason G.- Mason loves the big water! He is also a big fisherman, hunter, and outdoorsman in his free time. Look to see him on the river anytime the water is high. Follow him to keep up: @mason_giordano
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Francis W. – Francis has been a permanent fixture around Wildman Adventure Resort in Northeast Wisconsin for many years. While he is very talented across the board, his river expertise is greatest when taking big groups down the Peshtigo River. Follow his adventures here: @f4wildman
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Austin M. – A lover of cats, a master of living out of his car, and a self- proclaimed “homeless romantic”, Austin has proven to be a great whitewater guide and whitewater kayaker. He also can play the banjo which is a very fitting whitewater guide trait. Follow him: @spork_fingers
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Nick R.- While Nick is also a great rock climber, his ability on whitewater is hard to beat! He’s never afraid to take on big water and push the limits. Nick spends time working as an outdoor educator when he isn’t working as a guide with Wildman Adventure Resort. Check him out on Instagram @nickroberts9!

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