This interview is part of a series of interviews in which we help you get to know these amazing and passionate people who help to make RITS what it is. To view more, check out the Guide Interviews page.
Ben is a 2016 rookie raft guide and about the only guide without a nickname. He grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado. As with other guides who stay for the season, he braves it in one of the guide houses that are home to two or three people as space allows. Ben isn’t a burly guide like some of the others at RITS. He does wear a killer man bun, though!
When we interviewed him, he was all about the sense of family that comes from working at Rafting in the Smokies as a whitewater rafting guide.
What do you like most about Rafting in the Smokies?
I learn from professionals. There is a really cool vibe out here. There’s always boating going on, it’s kind of like a mecca here. It’s a community—like a big family.
What do you do in the offseason?
During the winter time, I go back home to Colorado and I’ll be back on the slopes out there. I do things from liftie all the way to park crew. Park crew is probably my favorite. I’ll build jumps and rails and do that all day.
How is the training process?
The training process and meeting everyone was pretty awesome. I came out here with the river manager. He wasn’t the manager at the time. He trained me and Rusty Brown—a really respected boater—trained me. We’re trained to deal with different situations, and a lot of those times those situations can be super difficult. We have little kids, and safety is our top priority. You really can’t stress that enough. We always try our hardest.
Why should people choose Rafting in the Smokies and choose rafting?
It’s epic. You can’t get this kind of adventure anywhere else. The river is wild. We’re trained professionals and have knowledge that other people don’t possess. It’s such a thrill. We’re going to get you in safely. It’s what we do for fun and for a job.
What’s your philosophy on life?
Keep going forward one foot at a time. Don’t offset something if it presents itself to you. I didn’t expect to come out here to come rafting. I just met someone and came out here and just went with the flow and I’m enjoying life.
What inspires you?
Pushing myself as far as I can and know what my limits are. I look at these rapids out here and all around the country. I ask myself there and in life if I can get around them.
As you can probably tell, Ben is super serious about safety and so are we! That’s why at Rafting in the Smokies, we brief you fully before you go rafting. We tell you about foot placement and always stress keeping the right rafting stance with your paddle. Toddlers on the Lower Pigeon float trip will sit in the middle—the safest area for them. We also make sure it’s safe when you get out of the raft at the end of the trip. Ready to book? Head to our reservation page.