Guides play a key role in the adventures our guests get to experience. It’s a role that brings a lot of varied skills together, from teaching new activities and sharing stories to setting a safe environment and orchestrating the details that make the adventure happen.
Interestingly, there are very few guide training programs focused on adventure tourism. As we worked on refining how we approach adventures, we realized that most of the training opportunities available to our guides were designed for other contexts like outdoor recreation, interpretation and outdoor education. That’s why we chose to build our own program.
Our adventure guide training courses are built to meet the competencies identified in the Adventure Travel Guide Standard (ATGS) from the Adventure Travel Trade Association. The ATGS brings together the technical skills required to lead outdoor recreation activities, the knowledge needed to interpret our natural and cultural history along with the necessary skills to lead intentional adventures that include the components of adventure travel: physical activity, cultural interaction and engagement with nature.
Our training is also designed to meet the requirements of the Field Leader certification set by the Outdoor Council of Canada (OCC). This certification is focused on leading safe outdoor programs and is required in many cases by land managers.
The ATGS and OCC are both based on the principle of continuous learning through a variety of opportunities, from formal certification courses to in-the-field experiences and mentorship opportunities. This way, guides begin their journey by leading simple adventures before progressing to more complex itineraries. The progression is based on gaining the necessary knowledge and experience rather than acquiring certifications.
Our Adventure Guide Training courses are specific to commercial guiding but a lot of the content may be of interest to others who enjoy adventures or who lead outdoor adventures for school groups, hiking clubs or friends.
The Training Program
It all starts with training that introduces the basics of adventure guiding, from the role of the adventure guide to the skills needed to lead specific activities and the knowledge to share what makes our destination special. Once this is in place, it’s time to learn how these skills are applied at the organization where you guide and to look for opportunities to continue to learn as a guide.
Once the universal skills are covered it’s time to hone in on the specific types of commercial adventure tours you’re looking to guide. That’s where the adventure-specific training comes in, introducing the skills required to be a hiking guide, a scenic float guide and a winter adventures guide. Find out more >
Adventure Guide Course
The Adventure Guide Course is the foundation for all our other courses. It provides an introduction to the adventure tourism context, our adventure framework and the universal skills required to lead a number of adventure tourism activities.
It consists of four online courses and one day of in-person training where we apply the concepts learned online to plan an adventure. The online courses are also a great option on their own for those who are curious to learn more about guiding and as a refresher for returning guides.
Adventure Specific Training
These courses build on the Adventure Guide Training Course to prepare guides to lead specific types of commercial adventure tours. The Hiking Guide, Scenic Float Guide and Winter Adventures Guide courses meet the requirements, when the in-person course is completed, for the Field Leader certification from the Outdoor Council of Canada.
Knowing our destination is key in helping our guests create connections with the region. These courses provide a starting point as you discover what makes the Nordegg & Abraham Lake region special. If you’re guiding in the nearby National Parks, the Interpretive Guides Association offers courses specific to those areas.
Adventure guiding is a lifelong learning journey. There are many ways to do this, including certification courses, in-the-field experience with more experienced guides and professional development workshops. Girth Hitch Guiding offers some great courses locally, including avalanche safety training.