The AO Guide School is primarily focused on teaching and preparing our students for commercial whitewater river guiding. Students spend seven very full days on the water getting hands on experience in the field. In that time students will learn and absorb as much as possible from our veteran instructors.
Each day starts early with instruction, breakfast, gear preparation, and getting on the river. After a full day of instruction and practice on the river, students gather in camp to review the events and concepts of the day, and take turns preparing dinner. Days are long and rigorous, but full of camaraderie and laughter. Meals are included from lunch the first day through lunch the last day, and students are involved in their preparation and clean up.
All-Outdoors California Whitewater Rafting is a family owned and operated company...it always has been. In fact, there are now three generations of Armstrongs working together to help make it all happen! AO specializes in high quality river rafting experiences for beginner outdoor enthusiasts, hard core whitewater junkies, and everyone in between. As one of California’s few original outfitters from the early 1960’s, All-Outdoors is a leader in the rafting industry with 59 years of experience guiding over 400,000 guests on more than 35,000 trips.
Trip offerings include half-day, 1-Day, 2-Day, and 3-Day itineraries on California’s 10 best whitewater rafting rivers and canyons. All-Outdoors has established outposts on three of our state’s most popular and iconic rivers - the South and Middle Forks of the American River, and the world-class Wild and Scenic Tuolumne River. Additionally, commercial rafting permits on some of the lesser known gems of California rivers, such as the North Fork of the Stanislaus and the Kaweah River, enable AO to share more rivers with the public than any other outfitter in the state.
To find out how All-Outdoors began, watch this pictorial.
Attending AO’s Guide School does not guarantee employment with us, however, we do prefer to hire from our own pool of students. Upon completion of school most students will require additional training to prepare them for their first commercial trip. For that reason we offer a training program to qualified candidates from guide school.
In determining a student's potential to become an AO guide, and a subsequent invitation to our training program, we look for the qualities we cannot teach rather than one’s whitewater skills. We have found that in time most everyone can learn to guide Class III whitewater, whereas certain personal attributes cannot be taught. Students who demonstrate an outstanding work ethic, stellar interpersonal skills, a positive attitude, and grace under pressure will be invited to join the training program. To better understand the role of a river guide, read the job description of a River Guide.
A note about certifications
If you choose to pursue employment as a commercial guide, government agencies will require that you be certified in CPR & First Aid. You can participate in the training program without those certifications, but you cannot work until you have them completed. You are required to have a basic level certification in CPR and First Aid, however, we recommend upgrading to Community CPR (where you will learn 2-person and child techniques) and Wilderness First Aid. There are many reputable organizations that offer 2-year certifications. Some recommended organizations include NOLS, Sierra Rescue, and Wilderness Outings.