I spent the last 5 1/2 months in Sauk City, WI at a company called WI River Outings. I moved up there right before spring and I was on my way out as soon as the cold air came howling back. It was great because I got to spend all of my time outside on the river and there was a few other perks too. I received my WFR (Wilderness First Responder) medical certificate from NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School), all of my customers were extremely happy and stoked to get on the water, plus I’ve only been 2 hours away from home, so I was able to see my family a lot more than I’m used to.
I spend most days moving boats around, driving buses and vans filled with happy, exhausted, sweaty, drunk people from all over the world. Rounding up and giving safety talks to groups of sometimes over 80, excited, distracted people. And on top of all that I also did our multi-day guided trips on the Wisconsin River and the Mississippi River. All of my trips I had consisted of a big bunch of kids (8 – 15 years old) and one or two counselors. Luckily the only injuries I saw with all those kids were a case of Lyme’s Disease (from an old tick bite before the trip) and one mild case of dehydration (which was actually one of the counselors…of course). I was in charge of cooking all the meals, setting up camp, starting fires, telling stories, leading hikes, rescuing kids/boats, and educating everyone about the river and surrounding areas.
Since I moved to Wisconsin I’ve lived in my tent, an old bait shop, a suburban, my tent again, and finally a cabin on the river (which is where I spent the last of my Wisconsin days)….all in 5 1/2 months! And of course now that I’ve served my term here, I realize how much fun I actually had spending a summer back in the mid west. The people have been extremely nice to me, the river and the hills have been soothing for my soul, and being closer to my family for a while was exactly what I needed. The weather was a little colder than I would have liked, but I’m sure I’ll miss it when I arrive to the hot weather of Phoenix.
I found the job when I was doing research on prices of canoes, and I stumbled upon the advertisement for WI River Outings selling over 100 old canoes from a business they just bought out. I read that and I figured “well hell, maybe he needs some help since he just bought out another business.” So I shot the owner an email, attached my resume, and told him about all my outdoor experience. Next thing I know, I’m spending the next 5 1/2 months paddling, hiking, and biking back in the mid west.
Most paddling associated business revenue dropped dramatically this year in Wisconsin because of low water levels, cold weather, and a poor economy. Our shop made a 27% increase in revenue from 2008, though. A lot of it had to do with our great boats, amazing location, and awesome customer service. So if you’re ever around Wisconsin….go paddle the Wisconsin River.
I was in the Wisconsin State Journal when I was working this job. Check it out here!