River guides, in their activity meet a lot of people; they play a key role both in the promotion of paddle sport and in the protection of the environment that surrounds them. Rafting activity as a leisure sport has become popular in the 1950s: in addition to being only a sport, the idea that rafting also is a serious business and a way to support the sport activity by the affiliates to the national federations gained a foothold.
In Italy in the last year 250.00-300.000 people practiced rafting occasionally (commercial activity).
In Turkey during the summer weekend it can happen that more than 35.000 people practice rafting in one day.
Regarding the figures of technicians, the supply does not meet the demand of the market despite significant increases in the training program.
Bearing in mind that the Council of the European Union’s Recommendations on promoting health-enhancing physical activity across sectors show that the sport sector is an employment-intensive growing industry and can contribute to addressing youth unemployment, rafting represents a tool for facilitating young people's access to the labour market and implement the dual career goal for the all the paddle sport athletes. Rafting also offers other employment opportunities such as manager of rafting companies or naturalist guides.
Another important goal, which is implemented through the development of an international training guide program, is the international mobility for the technicians/athletes; in fact, this element is encouraged by the rafting’s seasonality due the weather events according to the period of the year. For this reason, rafting guides can work and promote paddle sport in different continent in the same year.
The WRF training guide program is an essential element for the development of rafting worldwide and the only way to reduce the risk that is connected to that promotional activity.
WRF Training Guide Program
Taking into consideration the above mentioned good practices, the development of a new international program, along the lines of Italian model, should be considered an essential step.
The WRF has developed and manages a rafting guide training program in collaboration with National Federations; it’s a system where the WRF Training Program does not replace the National Training Program but acts at National Federation’s request by training national instructors in order to make them autonomous, thus achieving common training standards.
Where the goal mentioned above is achieved, the signature of agreements between the WRF and National Federations implements the system of collaboration and management. This agreement shall be based on the following principles:
- the WRF works to ensure that WRF qualifications issued by the National Federations are accepted worldwide so that the raft guides holding this qualification enjoy the full honors and privileges granted by the WRF program
- National Federations will maintain their NTP (National Training Program) so that it meets or exceeds the minimum requirements for an WRF Training Program as stipulated in the WRF program protocol.
- National Federations will offer all National Rafting Guides and Instructors the opportunity to obtain a WRF Rafting Guide qualification comparable to the level that they already hold
- National Federations agree that a valid and current WRF Rafting Guide qualification shall qualify the holder for a ‘fast track’ option for obtaining a National Guide license corresponding to their WRF qualification when the remaining national Guide requirements have been met
Benefit of international Training Guide Program
. skilled river guides
. dual career for all WRF and International Canoe Federation (ICF) athletes
. a way to support economically WRF
. safety enhanced at the WRF and ICF events
. a way to introduce more people to paddle sports
. promotion of the paddle sport in schools
. rafting guides as environmental guardians of the rivers