When I was preparing for my senior year in college, I definitely didn’t have “become a raft guide” in my five-year plan. In fact, it had been my intention to start life after school by joining up with the National Park Service as an interpretational ranger. As I poured over the applications for these jobs, I found myself wondering what other options someone like me, a high energy naturalist, would be able to follow their passion. My passion was, and continues to be, the desire to bring people outdoors through entertainment and education. My motivation to look for an alternative route came from someone who always seems to have the right advice: my dad!
My dad told me a story of a guide that he met on a whitewater trip with his friends on the Pigeon River in Tennessee. As my dad told me how this guy lived in his hammock all summer and made money by rafting all week, I started to imagine how incredible it would be to have a summer like that.
I googled “whitewater rafting guide jobs,” and by my good fortune, CoolWorks was among the top results! After briefly looking over the different listings, I was amazed. I could not believe all of the exciting, seasonal work that was available across the United States! I had always been in love with the outdoors, adventure, and travel, but while reading the different job descriptions, a new fire started deep down in my soul.
I have been a Midwesterner my whole life, born and raised among the cornfields of central Illinois. I always assumed that the only way to hit big rapids was to move East or West in the United States, until I found northeast Wisconsin‘s Wildman Adventure Resort on CoolWorks. Just two days after I graduated from college, I was already in a zip line harness soaring through the trees and in a rubber raft hitting class IV rapids!
Since then, every job that I have held out of school has been through Coolworks.com. Last winter I moved down to Florida and worked with a kayak company called Shurr Adventures in Big Cypress National Preserve and the Everglades National Park. Staying warm for the winter was nice, the alligators stayed mostly friendly, and my old bosses Justin and Alli continue to be good friends of mine. The call of the Northwoods and spring whitewater called me back to Wisconsin that next summer, and I have been here ever since!
Today, I have a year round position working with Wildman Adventure Resort, and life is good! My advice to anyone who is considering seasonal work is to follow your heart, and do it with enthusiasm! Laugh when people ask when you are getting a “real job” because you know how much your own experience means to you. When I started my journey, I never imagined I would be working as a year-round employee in a place as magical as where I am today. I continue to live my life through my passion for introducing, educating, and entertaining people in one of the most wonderful, simple, important places in the World.
Keep up with Dan, follow his adventures and his passions for the outdoors over on his podcast, Camping Out with Dan Camp.