Flatwater Guide FAQs

Do I need paddling experience to be a USNWC Flatwater Guide?
What if I can only work part time or just weekends?
Do I need to be certified in First Aid and CPR to be a Flatwater Guide?
What are the first steps to becoming employed as a Flatwater Guide at the USNWC?
Attending Flatwater Guide School does not guarantee a job at the USNWC. What does that mean?
What topics will be covered in Flatwater Guide School?
What equipment do I need, and what should I wear during Flatwater Guide School?
After I complete Flatwater Guide School, what are my next steps?
What is the required guide gear, and how much will it cost?
Once I am hired, how many hours will I be scheduled?

Do I need paddling experience to be a USNWC Flatwater Guide?
No, previous paddling experience is not a requirement. Many of our guides are trained here through the USNWC Flatwater Guide School.

What if I can only work part time or just weekends?
During the spring and fall months, there is a need for weekend-only and/or part-time staff. During the summer, there is also a need for weekend-only staff. A job at the USNWC makes a great second job that can lead to new hobbies, friendships, and a little extra money made while having fun outdoors. Individuals with full-time jobs and free time on the weekends are encouraged to apply due to higher demand on Saturdays and Sundays.

Do I need to be certified in First Aid and CPR to be a Flatwater Guide?
Flatwater Guides are expected to have a current First Aid and CPR certification. If you are not certified, we cannot schedule you to work; however, we do offer a First Aid, CPR & AED Certification course at the USNWC.

What are the first steps to becoming employed as a Flatwater Guide at the USNWC?
In order to be considered for employment at the USNWC, you must first complete an online application. The Hiring Manager will review all incoming applications, and promising candidates will be contacted for interviews. Following the successful completion of the interview process, candidates will be invited to Flatwater Guide School.

Attending Flatwater Guide School does not guarantee a job at the USNWC. What does that mean?
Flatwater Guide School is considered as an extension of the interview process, where you will be evaluated on both technical skills and overall compatibility with our organization.  We are looking for guides who are energetic, positive, hard-working, and friendly. After completion of the course, all employment offers are subject to the successful completion of a background check. The USNWC is a drug-free and smoke-free establishment.

What topics will be covered in Flatwater Guide School?
Flatwater Guide School is a two day course and covers the following areas:  flatwater kayak and stand-up paddle board (SUP) instruction, rescue techniques, operating procedures, guest services, Catawba River history and local knowledge, emergency protocols, vehicle use, flatwater dock use, and a general USNWC orientation.

What equipment do I need, and what should I wear during Flatwater Guide School?
During Flatwater Guide School, the USNWC will provide the following equipment:

  • Personal Flotation Device (PFD)
  • Flatwater kayak and paddle
  • SUP board and paddle

Wetsuits, booties, and splash jackets are available for rent.

What you should bring/wear:

Cold weather (not required but highly suggested):  bathing suit, board/athletic shorts, rain jacket, warm/quick drying clothing, secure footwear (old sneakers, water shoes, or sandals with a heel-strap), and warm socks

Cotton clothing and jeans are not recommended as they will only make you colder.

Warm weather:  bathing suit, board/athletic shorts, t-shirt, rash guard/quick drying clothing, secure footwear (old sneakers, water shoes, or sandals with a heel-strap)

Other:  eyeglass strap (if needed), sunscreen, towel, change of dry clothes and shoes, water bottle, lunch, and snacks

After I complete Flatwater Guide School, what are my next steps?
Upon completion of Flatwater Guide School, you will sit through a quick evaluation.  If we decide you would be a good fit for our team, we will invite you to complete the Check-Out process.  Being on-time, respectful of instructors, and having a positive attitude are the three major deciding factors.

Areas of evaluation in the Flatwater Guide Check-Out process:

  • Strokes and maneuvers: you must be able to pass a kayaking and SUP skills assessment
  • Rescue ability: you must be able to rescue a person on a kayak and a person on a SUP while using either water craft yourself
  • Customer service:  you must pass (80% or higher) the Kayak Center Guest Service Assessment

What is the required guide gear, and how much will it cost?
Prior to completion of your Check-Out, you will need the following gear:

  • 2 locking carabineers:  around $7/each
  • Flip line (a flip line is a piece of flat webbing that you can wrap around your waist at least twice):  $2-$4
  • Whistle:  $5-$10
  • Waterproof/water resistant watch:  $10+
  • Secure footwear (no flip-flops):  $20+

Once hired, you will need to purchase:

  • Staff PFD (two options):  Astral Yonton ($80) or Astral Green Jacket ($140)
  • Staff Guide Shorts:  approximately $30

Payment for your PFD and Guide Shorts, is accepted up front or through our payroll deduction option ($40 per check until gear is paid off).

Once I am hired, how many hours will I be scheduled?
We schedule guides based on seasonal demands. During peak months, this can be close to a full-time schedule; however, in shoulder months, schedules are more part-time. Your availability is a big factor in how many hours you are scheduled.  First year guides may not be scheduled for 40 hours a week, but there are always plenty of opportunities to pick up extra shifts to get you to your desired amount of hours. Hours are fairly steady through the end of August assuming good weather; however, there is no guarantee of hours for a seasonally affected organization like the USNWC.