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Openings for naturalist expedition sea kayak guides with Olympic Kayak Tours

Immediate Openings for First Year Naturalist Expedition Sea Kayak Guides (called First Year Guides for the rest of this document), and Experienced Naturalist Expedition Sea Kayak Guides (called Experienced Guides for the rest of this document) with Olympic Kayak Tours. 


 

Olympic Kayak Tours LLC is an owner-operated wildlife eco-tourism sea kayaking company that operates out of Fort Flagler State Park on Marrowstone Island near Port Townsend, WA.

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Benefits of being a naturalist sea kayak guide with Olympic Kayak Tours:

  • Be paid to go kayaking, 

  • Receive an education in sea kayaking skills from technical paddling skills including: strokes, braces, rescues. Also marine navigation, marine weather, route planning, marine radio protocols, expedition dynamics and leadership, etc. Experienced sea kayakers or particularly adept learners can also learn rolls and kayak surfing.  This education combined with the experience of guiding for a season would enable someone to participate in a sea kayak expedition anywhere on the planet.  The education received is very similar to that covered in courses by organizations like NOLS and Outward Bound that cost several thousand dollars.

  • Enhance your knowledge of the salish sea marine ecosystem, and get to observe marine mammals and sea birds in their natural habitat, including whales, seals, eagles, and much more. 

  • Get access to “pro-deals” that is discounts for outdoor industry guiding professionals for brands such as Patagonia, MSR, NRS, Sea Line, Werner Paddles, and more.  Also possibility of ordering a personal kayak at wholesale rate from Kayak Distribution company.

  • Become more physically fit.

  • Meet people from many different walks of life from around the country and the world.

  • Earn tips which do not need to be shared with the company and can be significant.  (If lead guides are on over-size trips and receiving the assistance of an assistant guide it’s a common courtesy to “tip out” the assistant if they perform good work, but that is a personal decision and not a company policy).  

  • Get to help shape people’s perceptions of wildlife and the marine environment.

  • We are aware that our guides are our most important resource and we will train you extremely well to excel in what is hopefully a dream job.

  • Get paid to participate in benefits for non-profits.

  • Be able to borrow a kayak and equipment in your off-time.

 

Length of season and hours:

For both First Year Guides and Experienced Guides, shop hours are available starting immediately.  The training intensives will take place in May or June.  The guiding season occurs mid-May through mid-October.  We need everyone to stay at least through labor day with work available beyond that.  Preference is given to those who can commit for 2 summers.

Olympic Kayak Tours operates a little differently than other sea kayak outfitters.  One thing we do differently is time all our tours to make good use of tidal currents with the result being that our tours aren’t offered at the same time each day.  For guides your hours will vary week to week and day to day.  We also do nighttime bioluminesence tours, which close to solstice in particular can run quite late.  Essentially you will have days on and off, for your on days you’ll be expected to keep your schedule clear and be eligible to lead one Day Tour and one Half Day Tour length tour per day (potentially more also if desired).  We work when others play so Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays are our busiest times and guides must be available to work.  Scheduled time off is possible.

 
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First Year Guides:

 

Incoming requirements:

  • Guides must be able to submit a criminal background check. (This is a condition of operating in Washington State Parks).

  • Be able to lift 55 lbs without issue.

  • Driver’s license and clean driving record for 3 years.


 

Free, unpaid, training intensive and try-out: 5 days approximately 40 hrs

 

First year guide prospects will be invited to participate in 5 days of a kayaking education intensive try-out.  This try-out allows both the prospective guide and the company to get a feel for each other before making a commitment.  Most Washington kayak tour industry leaders charge new recruit guides to participate in guide training bootcamps or workshops, and then keep recruits in an unpaid status until they are ready to serve as guides which can be a full month.   We are foregoing any fees for our training intensive, and if the guide and the company mutually decide that the work relationship is a good fit we will hire them and pay them to complete the rest of their training.  We will also provide the necessary equipment to take part in the training including a wetsuit if needed.  First year guide prospects should have personal clothing suitable for foul weather and the activities of guiding kayak tours (ie synthetics and neoprene, “cotton kills” in the marine environment). As part of the guide training intensive participants will assist in cleaning up from activities.  Our preference is to conduct the intensive in 5 sequential days in May or possibly June, but for the right candidate the 5 days can be stretched out to accommodate scheduling.

 

Shop hours.  Initial rate: $15/hr

Olympic Kayak Tours has needs for assistance finishing the preparation of our site for the season, First Year Guide prospects are eligible to participate in these hours immediately and will earn $15 hr.  Activities could include assisting with light carpentry, cleaning, painting, organizing and sundry in tandem with the company founder.

 

Remainder of training period, rate: $13.69

Upon the completion of the intensive and a mutual decision to continue the job relationship the First Year Guide Trainee will receive $13.69 an hour.  Activities during this period may include continued water time with founder focused on technical skills. Effectively this is an apprenticeship and will include “shadowing” where the First Year Guide Trainee will be paid essentially to attend sea kayak tours and observe.

 

Requirements to progress to First Year Lead Guide:

In order to progress to being a lead guide (which is the goal to do so as quickly as possible) the First year guide must possess:

  • Current CPR and Advanced First Aid certification or higher (at guide’s expense)

  • Pass the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife testing requirements for naturalist sea kayak guides. (WDFW class and exam at Olympic Kayak Tours expense).

  • The ability and willingness to lead interesting discussions on the natural history of wildlife in the Salish Sea and surrounding areas

  • Strong leadership abilities

  • Possession of the following in good condition:  

    • complete emergency signal kit (whistle, mirror, 3 flares, & "See-Rescue" locator device)

    • miscellaneous safety and navigation equipment (knife, fire-starter kit, personal first aid kit, pliers/multi-tool, waterproof headlamp, waterproof binoculars, waterproof chart & compass)

    • personal clothing suitable for foul weather and the activities of guiding kayak tours

(An advance can be offered for guides if they face a hardship in acquiring these items, many of these items can be purchased through the company at wholesale prices if desired).

 

  • Pass a written, verbal, and practical test covering: basic guiding skills, local natural history knowledge, navigation, unassisted re-entry of a capsized kayak, assisting others in re-entry, towing kayaks, emergency procedures, etc.  The trainee First Year Guide can request these tests at any time after completing the 5 day intensive.

  • Lead a tour while being audited. Essentially you will lead a tour while the founder silently attends as if a customer.

 

First Year Lead Guide, rate $16:

Once satisfying the requirements the first year guide will start independently leading tours. 

Experienced Guides:

 

Incoming requirements:

  • Guides must be submit to a criminal background check. (This is a condition of operating in Washington State Parks).

  • Be able to lift 55 lbs without issue.

  • Driver’s license and clean driving record for 3 years.

  • At least one season’s work as a naturalist sea kayak guide.


 

Unpaid try-out and training intensive, 2 days:

Prospective experienced guides can be invited to a try out and training intensive, this will allow the candidate and the company to get a feel for each other.  At the end of the try-out an Experienced Lead Guide starting pay rate will be determined between $16-$18/hr which will be applicable to both guiding hours and maintenance or “shop” hours, they will earn this rate once they satisfy all the requirements to be a Lead Guide detailed below.

 

Remainder of training period, trainee rate $13.69. 

The Experienced Guide trainee will know what their starting rate will be once they complete their try-out, but until they can lead Olympic Kayak Tours trips they will be paid $13.69 to complete their training.  

 

Shop hours.  Initial rate: $16/hr

Olympic Kayak Tours has needs for assistance finishing the preparation of our site for the season, Experienced Guide prospects are eligible to participate in these hours immediately and will earn $16 hr.  Activities could include assisting with light carpentry, cleaning, painting, organizing and sundry in tandem with the company founder.

Requirements to progress to Experienced Lead Guide:

  • Current CPR and Advanced First Aid certification or higher (at guide’s expense)

  • Pass the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife testing requirements for naturalist sea kayak guides. (WDFW class and exam at Olympic Kayak Tours expense).

  • The ability and willingness to lead interesting discussions on the natural history of wildlife in the Salish Sea and surrounding areas

  • Strong leadership abilities

  • Possession of the following in good condition:  

    • complete emergency signal kit (whistle, mirror, 3 flares, & "See-Rescue" locator device)

    • miscellaneous safety and navigation equipment (knife, fire-starter kit, personal first aid kit, pliers/multi-tool, waterproof headlamp, waterproof binoculars, waterproof chart & compass)

    • personal clothing suitable for foul weather and the activities of guiding kayak tours

(And advance can be offered for guides if they face a hardship in acquiring these items, many of these items can be purchased through the company at wholesale prices if desired).

 

  • Pass a written, verbal, and practical test covering: basic guiding skills, local natural history knowledge, navigation, unassisted re-entry of a capsized kayak, assisting others in re-entry, towing kayaks, emergency procedures, etc.  The Experienced Guide Trainee can request these tests at any time after completing the try-out.

  • Lead a tour while being audited. Essentially you will lead a tour while the founder silently attends as if a customer.

 

Experienced Lead Guide, rate is dependent on experience starting range between $17-19/hr

Once the Experienced Guide has satisfied the criteria they will lead tours and assist around the kayak base at their lead guide rate. 

Job Description

Duties and responsibilities:

  • the ultimate responsibility for safety of all participants including:

    • continuous weather/sea condition checks, visual & radio

    • moment-to-moment decisions/evaluations of travel & safety procedures

    • efforts to ensure the comfort of participants both on & off shore

  • adherence to all procedures outlined in Olympic Kayak Tours’ "Guide's Manual"

  • the guidance & instruction of sea kayak tours including:

    • client orientation & safety

    • direction and supervision of activities of assistant/intern

    • timely & punctual transportation and shuttling of vehicles, gear & participants, including those of tours arriving before or departing after employee's on the same date

    • thorough pre-trip preparation including: weather radio check, filing of float plan/weather report, review of client roster & medical information

    • post-trip filing of trip log and proper disposition of release forms, collected fees, etc.

    • cleaning & storage of equipment

    • inspection & maintenance of all equipment after tours

    • repairing all equipment damaged during trips

    • maintaining the cleanliness of all work areas and surrounding grounds as pertains to all duties above

    • maintaining a good sense of humor and cooperative attitude towards co-workers, supervisors, and guests

    • treating guests in a manner that makes them feel respected, valued, liked and cared for

    • maintaining a drug- and tobacco-free work place

    • Assisting the owner on projects related to the business as assigned

 
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To apply send an email to OlympicKayakTours@gmail.com with your resume, 3 professional references, and a cover letter, please title the email either "First Year Guide" or "Experienced Guide".  Also feel free to email questions there or call (360) 453-7135‬