Chelsea St Louis

Chelsea graduated from Westcoast Adventure College and went straight to the Edge of the World for her first guiding job. Working for Moresby Explorers in Haida Gwaii and running her own marine tours in the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve.

Best Part of Wilderness Guiding

What I love about my job is seeing people’s perspective change and be influenced by their time on the water and on the land. The wildlife is unreal and the landscape is awe inspiring. You are literally in the middle of nowhere. You have to be able to be prepared to handle many different types of situations from sudden inclement weather changes, equipment malfunctions to sea sick guests. From witnessing a baby orca learn how to spy hop to navigating 16’ standing waves to transport gear, any time I got into a situation I thought, I can handle this.

I believe that my success is largely due to my love of being around people. I love facilitating an experience for our guests and seeing them come to life, to want more out of life.  No day is like another, the only constant is that everything changes. 

Biggest Challenges

One of the biggest challenges was getting people to respect my leadership as an 18 year old female. I was constantly needing to justify my position and role to my clients. Although this was difficult, it gave me the opportunity to really put my leadership and communication skill training into practice. I was able to gain respect and build rapport by letting my work and skills prove my capability. My knowledge of the environment and technical skills of safety, protocols and boat handling allowed me to facilitate a really excellent tour.  I had to believe in myself. My instructors would not have given me the recommendation and my bosses would not put me out here if they were not 100% in my capabilities, so I should be as well. 

Most Valuable Part of Training

Of all the skills learnt during her program, Chelsea states risk management was the most critical. “Learning how to plan properly for things to go wrong allows you to feel so much more prepared and confident to deal with it. The experiential learning is so valuable. Working through the scenarios provided a framework to deal with balancing the priorities of group management, time management and the overall experience of my clients.” 

Actually, one of my most valuable moments of putting my training into practice came while I was travelling in New Zealand after my first guiding season.  I was hiking on a remote mountain and lost my way coming down. I was stuck up there for 6 hours route finding and saw no other soul the entire time. At that moment, the words of my instructor were going through my head “I always leave a trip plan, no matter what”.  Things were seeming grim but what kept me calm was that I knew I had all my essential gear.  I knew how to use it. Eventually I made my way back to the logging road. The whole experience was a gentle reminder to keep practicing what I learned during my guiding program. 

Advice for Future Students

The advice I have to future students is to have patience and try to soak in as much as you can because it’s all relevant. Whatever part of the industry you get into, all the training WAC offers is important. From first aid to the weather it will give you a more well rounded understanding of what the role as a guide requires.

I would also say to keep practicing your skills the whole way through. Allow yourself to make mistakes because it’s the best way to learn. I had no idea how much personal growth would be involved in the program. My training at Westcoast Adventure College let me expand my knowledge and confidence. It broadened my understanding of what I was capable of and gave me the opportunity to challenge my limits.

Although, the entire program was valuable my favourite part was the passion I was able to cultivate through our heritage interpretation course. For our main project, I made laminated cards filled with the ecology of the Pacific Northwest. When I showed them to my colleagues, everyone wanted a copy. Everyday, I get to be outside and share my knowledge and experience with others.

Chelsea is one of our top graduates that took every opportunity to develop her skills and character throughout the program. Her hard work and dedication gained her a job in one of the most remote and majestic places in the world. Her next season will be spent leading 4 day marine trips in Gwaii Haanas.