Join Our Team
Job Description: Sea Kayak Guide
Being a kayak guide is possibly one of the most rewarding summer jobs you can have! If you have a passion for paddling or being outdoors, an interest in developing your skills, and most importantly a desire to facilitate amazing experiences for others then we would love to talk to you about joining our team. San Juan Kayak Expeditions guides are responsible for ensuring our clients and customers have amazing experiences on our tours which range from 3 hours to 5 days. As a part of the team, you will have an integral role in delivering hundreds of guided tours, primarily on the westside of San Juan Island where we run a large majority of our day trips. Most of your work time is spent guiding 4–6-hour kayaking tours. This includes a 20-minute commute in a van with guests to and from the launching location as well as an instruction period prior to launching. You are responsible for keeping clients safe and for providing an enjoyable and memorable experience that meets or exceeds the participant’s expectations.
About San Juan Kayak Expeditions
San Juan Kayak Expeditions was founded in 1980 by long-time owner and operator Tim Thomsen and is the oldest yet smallest of the six commercial kayak companies on San Juan Island. We offer three-, four- and six-hour day trips as well as two-, three-, four- and five-day sea kayaking expeditions in the San Juan Islands. With a small team of six to eight guides, we are a tight knit group and love to share one of the most desirable sea kayaking destinations in the country with both our guests and new employees! We strive to provide top-notch equipment, boats and guides to ensure the safety and quality experiences for all.
Requirements for Becoming a San Juan Kayak Expeditions Guide:
- Skills: ACA or BCU instructor certifications are not required but are certainly a plus. You will be expected to demonstrate and perform a range of strokes, maneuvers and rescues necessary to provide a safe experience for guests. For guides coming in April or May, there will be time and scheduled workshops to practice these skills. You will not lead trips until we are confident that you are proficient in these areas. For more info, refer to this page.
- Certifications: First Aid and CPR are the minimum requirement while Wilderness First Aid and Wilderness First Responders are preferred. You will also be required to get a Washington Food Handler’s permit as well as a MAST permit (Washington State alcohol serving certification).
- Gear: Immersion gear is extremely helpful in learning these skills as it requires you to get in and out of your boat and the water here is quite cold. We plan to purchase additional dry suits to have for training and available to rent throughout the season as needed. Binoculars, synthetic clothing and paddling footwear are required and everything else will be provided by San Juan Kayak Expeditions.
- Ensuring clients have an enjoyable, safe and positive experience in our lessons and tours.
- Leading tours according to San Juan Kayak Expeditions standards and risk management policies.
- Packing, preparing and cleaning up equipment used in tours, including communicating any deficiencies to your supervisor. This includes lifting and moving kayaks and associated gear.
- Ensuring all required reporting and paperwork is completed.
- Commitment to working full-time June-August with any prior time-off requests communicated well in advance. The season is short and intense
- Attending mandatory training sessions and skill development opportunities
- Reviewing and revising course outlines and program descriptions
- Keeping required certifications up to date
- Working with an excellent and intimate team of paddling and outdoor enthusiasts in a small community
- Advancing your paddling and program delivery skills through workshops, courses, training and mentoring
- Access to kayaks and equipment for personal use
- Staff paddling trips, parties and other events
- Discounted gear through pro deals
- Outdoor work in one of the most beautiful places in the United States
- Flexible Hours
- $15 Hourly – starting wage + tips. Opportunity for growth based on experience, certification and performance
- Ability to lift 75+ lbs.
- Strong decision-making and leadership skills.
- Passion and experience in kayaking and the outdoor industry
- Experience teaching or leading programs, courses or tours, especially outside
- Excellent in-person communication skills – performance or public speaking experience is an asset
- Previous teaching or guiding experience or a degree or diploma in Tourism, Outdoor Recreation or Education is an asset
- Love working with people and being outside; ability to speak languages other than English is an asset
Additional Information about Friday Harbor
Located in the heart of the PNW, Friday Harbor is surrounded by so many beautiful places! From the Olympic Mountain Range to our south, the Cascades to our East, and Vancouver Island, BC to the West, the opportunities to explore are endless! Because the season is so short and intense and ferry travel to and from the mainland can be logistically challenging, there is not a ton of time to make big off-island excursions, especially in June-August however we will do our best to give you two days off a week! Bringing a car is certainly not necessary as we try to find housing for employees close to town that is walking or biking distance to the shop, however it can be nice to facilitate travel trips primarily in pre- and post- season. Biking is the preferred method of transportation on the island so bringing a bike is highly encouraged and the company can certainly loan you one or help you find one that is affordable once you get here. With 55 miles of coastline and two National Historical Parks, the island itself has lots of hiking, biking and swimming opportunities. The water is cold (55 degrees) so bring a wetsuit if you have one! The company has dry suits and a handful or wetsuits that you can borrow when doing rescue practice or if you ever want to get out and work on your skills.
We are also looking for a shop/operations manager for the 2022 season. This person ideally has the skills necessary to lead trips if/when necessary but primarily works at the shop helping clean and organize gear as well as moving boats, vans and trailers, shopping for food for multi-day trips, and working closely with guides to give them all the support they need to run great trips. To apply for either position, send a resume and cover letter to email@example.com