If you read my last blog post about becoming a raft guide, you’re aware of the ease of entry to this career. Three Rivers Outfitting facilitates this, making it easy for rookies with no experience to be successful. My first year in 2015, my manager told me that I may not get steady work until the end of June. Then the bulk of the season was over by mid-August. He recommended having another job to supplement guiding, and the resort offered this in a variety of areas. I worked full time at the activities desk my first two summers. There, I booked rafting and kayaking trips. I also helped guests find outdoor opportunities like horseback riding, biking, and hiking. Since I had been on the river several times at that point, it was a perfect fit as I was able to relate to those who were new to this lifestyle.
Raft Guiding Plus…
Our guide list works mostly on priority, meaning the top guides get trips first then down the list we go. So, if 4 boats are booked, the top 4 guides got the trip. If 30 boats are booked the top 30 guides got the trip. Working at the resort in other jobs gave me an advantage for getting trips when there were last minute changes. If a family walked in right before trip time and wanted to raft, I had the opportunity of hopping on as a guide since I was right there.
As many of the college students began to return to school in August, I began to get even more trips since the guide list had shrunk and I was not in college at the time. We rafted through the month of September that year! After the activities desk wrapped up for the season, there were still plenty of guests renting cabins, so I joined the housekeeping team. That was hard but rewarding work. Housekeeping is very physical! Teamed with a different co-worker each day, I got to put my head down, clean, and enjoy being behind the scenes. I gained a whole new respect for housekeepers. Without them, Three Rivers Resort would not be able to operate. I’d say this truly was the beginning of my training to be a manager and I didn’t even know it! Housekeeping was the best way to learn about each unique lodging unit. Eventually the snow began to fly and I went back to ski instructing.
Making a Career
What a whirlwind that rookie summer was. I was certainly going to return the next spring. After returning for many seasons, I worked in the accounting office, front desk, activities desk and continued to help with housekeeping. I did all of this while continuing to advance my raft guiding skills. Never did I dream that a seasonal raft guiding job would turn into a career as a manager in hospitality. These varied experiences prepared me well for my current role with the resort. In short, the more you are open to doing at Three Rivers Resort and Outfitting, the more opportunities there are for advancement and even long-term employment.
Michelle Clark is the Front Desk/Reservations Manager for Three Rivers Resort. She graduated from Western Colorado University in Gunnison and worked as a ski instructor for Crested Butte Mountain Resort. Michelle continues to raft guide as needed, while managing the Front Desk, Guest Reservations and the General Store at the resort.