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The adventure industry is a highly emotional industry. Throughout the course of the day, anyone can feel a whole range of emotions from anxiety to joy, tranquility to fear and so on. Guides are no different. No matter how many times they go down a stretch of river, the uncertain nature of the industry creates new challenges and excitement each time. 

The problem with all this emotion is, it tends to creep up and take over certain situations where simple logic might be the better solution. Don’t worry, we fall victim to it ourselves. 

As you start your day on the river, emotions you may or may not be used to having can begin to make you “feel” like you should act a certain way on your raft, in front of your guide, or in front of the rest of your group. When those feelings begin to arise, try to keep in mind these 5 Characteristics of a Great Rafter that will help the majority of your day be filled with joy and excitement rather than anxiety and fear…or the worst: Regret. 


If you have been rafting 400 times before, great. If you can bench press 300 lbs, great. If you’re the only person your group will listen to–that’s weird–but sure. 

When rafting, working as a team is the most effective way to get down the river. Like it or not, your guide is your team captain and calls the shots. Each guide has different strengths and weaknesses, and therefore will need to use his or her crew in different ways. Don’t let your desire to show off your stellar rafting skills get in the way of your guide’s game plan. The more receptive you are to their commands, the better your ride will be. 


While all our guides on each trip will do everything in their power to ensure everyone has a safe, enjoyable trip, most situations that arise on the river can be remedied by a little proactive help from you, the rafter.

Getting tossed into the river for the first time can be a bit of a shock, and the urge to panic is real. Do your best to fight that urge and follow some simple steps. If you fall out of the boat, but can still feel it, that’s usually a great place to be. Go ahead and grab on, someone will surely pull you back in. If you’re separated from your boat, do a quick scan to see if you can spot it, and then do what your guide is telling you to do. Don’t just float along hoping your guide will come and save you. 

A little effort on your part will help lessen any amount of not so great time, and make way for tons more fun time!  


Chances are there will be times when an upcoming rapid seems out of your comfort zone, you’re intimidated by this surfing thing your guide keeps talking about, or everyone else in your raft seems way more gung-ho than you. If you’re having these thoughts, don’t be afraid to tell your guide. 

Some of the biggest looking rapids we see out there are actually some of the safest. Telling your guide you’re a little uncomfortable about what’s coming up let’s them know they need to take a little more time describing the rapid, swim directions, etc. We don’t want you to be so scared going through something that you can’t enjoy it. Not to mention, it’s when you’re tense and not thinking clearly that you are more likely to fall out. 


While I mentioned above to let your guide know if you’re feeling uncomfortable about something, it’s not an invitation to stay completely inside your comfort zone.

You came rafting for a reason. For an adventure.

Our guides are never going to put you in harm’s way on purpose, so if they’re suggesting going for the big hit, or surfing the big hole, take a chance and go for it! You’ll be happy you did and feel that addicting surge of adrenaline as you come out safely on the other side. 


As we’ve said many times before, this isn’t Disneyland. We can’t promise the water levels will be the same from one day to the next, whether it will be sunny or snowy, or that you’ll like the other people on your trip. What we can do is give you the best trip possible within the particular circumstances of the day. If you spend your entire trip focusing on all the negative aspects that are frankly out of anyone’s control, you may miss out on a pretty great trip. 
There are all sorts of tips and tricks for a great whitewater rafting experience, but when it comes down to it, the enjoyment of your trip really comes down to you. It’s important to embrace all of the emotions associated with taking on a new adventure, but be sure to not let them hijack your ability to fully experience the excitement! 

If you haven’t already, go to aceraft.com, and book your own whitewater rafting trip today! 

BY aceteam

Bringing you all the latest whitewater rafting, adventure, and all things ACE from the New River Gorge of West Virginia for over 40 years.