Vancouver Water Adventures

Vancouver Water Adventures is family operated, established in 2009. Owner/Operator, Clayton Watson shared some insights on guiding, taking the leap to starting your own business and why Vancouver Water Adventures is a great place to launch your guiding career.

What do you think makes a great guide? 

All of our activities require technical skills and many need certifications. We provide a lot of in house training to ensure that all guides are also competent and confident with those skills. However, in many aspects, the technical skills are the easy part. We can teach these. 

We can’t teach personality. It takes someone who loves to be around people, to get to know them, entertain them, and really curate a memorable experience in adventure. 

A guide also needs to be able to assess risk, manage weather decisions, and have an ultimate mind for safety.

Advice for the Entrepreneur 

The biggest advice I have for anyone wanting to start their own business is to commit to the dream. When we started Vancouver Water Adventures, we had 2 run down Seadoos to rent. It wasn’t much, but I had a vision. I have been guiding all over across many disciplines: ATV, skiing . It was great but I wanted something more/different. I looked around to see who was living the life I want to live and saw that it was the owners of the companies I was working for. 

We built it from the ground up. There was no other place to start. It was only in year 6 that we actually started paying ourselves. There was a lot of sacrifice, a lot of mistakes. There are always hard choices and hard work. But the payoff is the freedom to make those choices and to live exactly how you want. 

When I talk to students or aspiring entrepreneurs, the main objective is to get them to believe in themselves. No amount of schooling is going to make a business, it will help you run it but the creation has to come from you. 

Fear of making mistakes, losing money and time can be huge barriers. But there truly is no reward without risk. You have to try, and try again. It really takes a leap to jump all in and commit to the vision to succeed.

What is your experience with WAC graduates as employees? 

We hired our first WAC graduate for the 2021 season, Jules Sigalet. She is the reason we now reach out to Westcoast Adventure College to find new recruits. Anyone from the program will get an interview.

Jules has all the makings of a great guide and really expanded in her first season. Her positive energy is exactly what helps the team thrive. Originally she was hired as a Seadoo guide and by mid-season she was running multiple boat tours a day. 

We get 3000 applicants every year. It is a daunting task to find the best fit for our operation. One of our filters is certification. Jules and other WAC grads are now on the top of our list because they come with most of the certifications needed to run multiple activities, which makes them really versatile. 

A lot of people think that being a guide is showing up to the group and heading out on tour. What many don’t realize is that there is a lot of effort and work that has to happen before and after a tour to make it successful. The most successful guides realize that being a guide is a whole package, it’s being part of a team and doing all the smaller less glamorous tasks to make the guest experience happen. 

Why is Vancouver Water Adventures a great place to work? 

No matter what you decide to do with your new guiding career, it will be fun. We offer fun, not just in one discipline but many. You get a lot of variation in the day and season. You can be boating out to glaciers, watching whales and kayaking all in the same day. It’s a great opportunity to utilize many of your qualifications. 

It is also a unique experience because we can offer a wilderness adventure with an urban lifestyle. You can run tours and still enjoy the comforts of the city.

We really respect and value those that take initiative and show the drive to improve their skills. There are a lot of opportunities to advance your training in different capacities and try new activities.

Check out Vancouver Water Adventures for exciting employment opportunities.