Alex Scarth

Alex Scarth graduated in 2018. We caught up with him to see where his adventure tourism path has been leading him.

What have you been up to since your program? 

I went straight to Paddle West after graduation and have been back every summer since. Now, I am the Lead guide for the Ucluelet location.  I have one of the best bosses I have ever had. He has always been very supportive and is willing to invest in me as a guide. Business is booming which is a reflection of the good company atmosphere.

I have also started my own business detailing cars. It started as a side job to fill in the off season and has turned into a full time operation.  Scot’s business course was something I didn’t think was as important at the time. However, it was because of our business plan project that the bank was so impressed with my presentation. 

I have been volunteering with RCMSAR for the past 3 years. It has been a great place to continue my training in advanced sea conditions.  

What is the most challenging part of guiding? 

It takes a lot of both physical and mental energy to be a guide. It requires an intense amount of people skills, which was a skill I had never really put energy into developing. However, with a lot of practice, my conversation and group management skills have really improved. I even have 5 Star Trip Advisor reviews.

What is your favourite part about being a guide? 

Guiding has helped create a 100% lifestyle change for me. I am the happiest and healthiest I have ever been. At the start of the program, I came in a somewhat angry depressed cook, I came out a happy kayak guide. I used to stand in the kitchen, looking out at the surf instructors, the kayak and wildlife guides and wished that was me. It might sound cliche, but the process of becoming a guide has shown me that I can do anything, I can be anything I want. It was a true transformation and place to start a whole new path. 

What has your experience at WAC taught you? 

Specifically, the training at WAC really opened the door.  There wasn’t one tourism job I couldn’t apply for, so finding a job was incredibly easy. 

I quickly realized that students from WAC know a lot more than those from other programs. Every place I have worked, including my RCMSAR team, has been really impressed with my level of training and confidence in my skills. 

I have even impressed myself. When I re-certified my first aid last year, I was surprised by how much knowledge I had retained from my program. The scenario based learning and repetitive practice I guess is a winning combination. The first thing they asked us to do was to set up a tarp…I was in my element.

What advice do you have for new students wanting to be guides? 

The school really does give you the skills you need. They give you the space and time to practice so you also become confident to use the right skills at the right time.

Be more patient and open minded with the process. I went into the program with a very specific idea of what I was there for. But it turns out that many of those things weren’t that important in the end. It was the process and putting the time into practice that was the most critical.  

Pay more attention to the soft skills. The entire job of guiding is dealing with people.  If you can manage people, make sure they are comfortable and are having a good time, you can actually deal with issues before they become problems. Getting good at my soft skills made sure I rarely had to use the hard skills like rescue and first aid. I also wish I had paid more attention to our Heritage Interpretation classes. It is a great way to connect to guests and connect them to their trip.