Jonathan Berg

After completing a bachelors in commerce, Jonny decided to switch gears into the great outdoors. He started the Adventure Tourism program in the fall of 2020.  His first role after graduating was as a guide at Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge. Working at a lodge is a hugely multifaceted high end operation. Guides are expected to have the technical knowledge on everything from alpine hiking, sea kayaking to power boats. They are also expected to provide excellent customer service and knowledge on natural history.

We caught up with Jonny after his first season at the lodge. “It was a huge learning curve. We learn all these skills in the program but when you get into the field it comes all at once. It is all consuming because you are always on.” 

“Even when nothing goes wrong, you have to be ready in case of emergencies 24/7.  One day, I was leading a trip to snorkel with salmon. The water was cold and one guest started grabbing at her heart, and breathing with difficulty. I got her out of the water to rest and get warmed up.

We were farthest away from our exit point, with no real option but to walk out. It could have been a serious situation but I felt prepared to deal with it. After waiting a time, we began to walk back slowly, taking an easier route with lots of options to stop and rest.

Weeks later I received a note from them saying it was the best experience they ever had. For me, it was stressful but my training kicked in and even though I was stressed on the inside, on the outside I was calm, made a plan and got everyone back safely.

What is your favourite part of being a guide?

“I love the ambiguity of not knowing what you might do the next day. It requires me to live in the moment and be ready for anything. Each day is never the same.”

What is the most challenging part of your work? 

“One of the hardest parts is having the mental and physical energy for the whole day. Over time I could feel myself getting worn down from needing to be adaptable for so long. Days are long and highly demanding. Knowing how amazing a tour can be but not always being able to deliver.”

What are the most valuable lessons from the program? 

“The program instilled the need to always be ready and prepared. It has served me well countless times. Once on a heli-hiking tour in the alpine the weather closed in and it looked like we were going to be stuck there for the night. It started raining. Because I had anticipated the cold and had brought extra clothes. I brought my own kit which included a fire starting kit and a tarp. It’s not standard practice to bring your own pack but because I did, we stayed dry and warm until we could leave. Everyone was calm because I was confident and had a plan. This is what my training did.” 

If I could give any advice to current or future students it would be to always put your best foot forward. 

  1. Being dependable, reliable and trustworthy will allow you to make meaningful connections and friendships. 
  2. I use knots all the time and wish I practiced them more often in school
  3. Show initiative and enthusiasm. You may not always get the roles or responsibilities you are looking for unless you go after them yourself.

One of the most helpful pieces of advice was to be professional at ALL times. Both inside and outside of work. The industry is small, everyone eventually knows everyone. How you carry yourself always reflects on your character.