Get Involved

Volunteering for ICO Rafting

Thank you for your interest in volunteering for ICO Rafting!

ICO conducts participant trips nearly every weekend, May through September. A typical trip takes place over the course of a weekend, with two full days of rafting, and one or two night of camping near the river. In the Spring we make a schedule of participant trips for the whole season. Once the schedule is available, volunteers sign up for the trips they wish to volunteer for. Each trip and participant group are different, and the details are decided and coordinated by the Trip Leader.

How to Become an ICO Volunteer

ICO looks to replenish its ranks every year with new volunteers. We're looking for anyone, 14-years-old or older, who is committed to our mission of sharing the outdoors with others. No experience is necessary. We provide all the necessary training.

Because of the seasonal nature of whitewater rafting, and the resources required to train new volunteers, we only accept new volunteers once a year, in the Winter. Space is limited in our training program, so there is an application process. Applications are generally available in December, and due in early February.

New volunteers are required to participate in our Basic Training program in the Spring.

If you are already trained as a Class III whitewater rafting guide, you do not need to participate in our Basic Training program. You can apply at any time. 

Basic Training Program

Each Spring we conduct our Basic Training program to train new volunteers. The goal of the Basic Training program is to provide the skills necessary to be a successful ICO volunteer. Basic Training emphasizes safety, raft guiding skills, equipment care, camp skills, and working with groups.

Basic Training is a significant time commitment. It is usually comprised of three weekday-evening classroom sessions and four full weekends on-river.

ICO does not charge for Basic Training; however, we ask that new volunteers share in the expenses of the weekend training trips, such as food, gas and camping fees (about $65 per trip). Financial assistance is available.

Volunteer Commitment & Requirements

In exchange for the training, ICO requires all new volunteers to make the following commitments:

  • Volunteer for a minimum of 10 river-days per year for two years after completing the training
  • Attend monthly group meetings and yearly equipment work-parties
  • Serve on an off-river committee or project team

Additionally, all volunteers are must meet these requirements:

It will be your responsibility to satisfy these requirements. However, ICO often provides inexpensive First Aid and CPR classes. Need-based financial assistance is available.

Background Checks

As a volunteer organization working with many youth organizations, the National Sierra Club requires that we perform background checks on all of our adult volunteers. We conduct criminal background and driving record checks. We hold this information in strictest confidence, and only screen for violent crimes and drunk driving convictions. If you feel for any reason that your background check is incorrect or needs explanation, then an appeal process can be initiated.

After Basic Training

After the training season, ICO begins its Participant Trip season in May each year. The schedule of trips for the entire season is usually available in March or April. Volunteers can sign up for the trips that best suit their schedule.


Most new guides will not be ready to guide Class III whitewater by themselves right after training. To help newly trained volunteers solidify their new guide skills, ICO has an apprenticeship program. As an Apprentice, you can get practice and experience with the help of a more experienced guide until you are ready to guide a boat by yourself.


You do not need any extra equipment. ICO can provide all the equipment you need including tents, sleeping bags, wetsuits, and life jackets (we call them PFDs). Rafting equipment is expensive, so we encourage you to wait until you have good familiarity with rafting and rafting equipment before you buy your own. If you really want to have your own equipment right away, we recommend non-cotton clothing for layering.

For More Information

Contact our Volunteer Recruiting Coordinator at