Kelly, a Grand Canyon Whitewater guide, and Tyler, a guide with our sister company Arizona River Runners, love the freedom a boatman’s schedule offers. Like many of our guides, they take advantage of the off season to explore other parts of the world. This spring, Kelly and Tyler are interning with a nonprofit organization called Citizenship Counts. Here’s an update from Kelly on their adventures!
“I started out as an Arizona rafting guide while I was in college. River rafting was a really fun way to fill my summer and save up some money to be able to make it through another winter in school! Once I graduated, I joined the ranks of true seasonal workers. I love having a seasonal job because it allows me a lot of creativity when I answer that typical college graduate question, “Now what?” I have all summer to dream up a way to spend October through March. I have a job waiting for me every April and each winter holds different plans from the last. I let my creativity run wild, dream up where I’d like to try living, what type of work I can find, what playing and traveling I want to squeeze in and can afford, and I go forth! Tyler and I met our first year working in Grand Canyon in 2008. We have been running the river ever since. In December 2010, I graduated from Northern Arizona University. Tyler and I strapped on our backpacks and headed for Taiwan, Thailand, India, and Nepal for three months. We spent most of our savings just in time to come back to our wonderful job guiding river trips.
This year I was ready for a challenge, a job, and an experience. And the universe quenched my thirst. Through a simple internet search I found a listing for an internship that made my ears perk up. To make a long story short, Tyler and I got the two internship positions and we’re now working for a nonprofit organization called Citizenship Counts. But, we don’t sit in an office and commute to work each morning. We sit in an RV, or Tyler sits on a bicycle seat for 50 miles at a time, and this is our office as we are interns on a cross-country journey. Dr. John Eckstein and his wife Diane Eckstein are board members of Citizenship Counts who decided to raise awareness and funds for this fairly young organization they’d like to really see take flight. But they wanted help, they needed “guides” if you will, and they hired us. John is biking and walking a total of 3,500 miles along the way. Tyler leads him on a 50-mile bike ride about every other day. We’re the logistics people. We plan the route, the stops, RV parks to stay in, where to safely ride 50 miles on a bike every other day, we capture video and photos of the journey, and we cook dinner for our new-found road family.
There is a team in the Phoenix office of Citizenship Counts which deals with the really tough planning. They coordinate with schools, the United States Customs and Immigration Services, and the district court systems to plan naturalization ceremonies that students attend in culmination to studying about good citizenship.
We began in San Diego and we’ll end in New York City on June 6. We will bear witness to 12 naturalization ceremonies, and maybe by the end I’ll be able to watch one without getting all weepy. We are learning more about being good guides as we help John and Diane realize their dream of this journey. And we, ourselves, are thrilled by this US adventure. We’ve soaked up the salty San Diego sunshine, we’ve felt small in the vast magnificence of Carlsbad Caverns, we’ve watched pigs race and a chick hatch from its shell (not simultaneously!) at a Texas rodeo, and we’ve already been privileged to watch more than 100 people’s American dream become reality.
We’ve got just under 3 months left on the road. We will fly back to Arizona June 9 and be at the rafting warehouse June 11 for our first rafting trip of the 2012 season. This is a heck of an adventure but it’s impossible not to always look forward to another season running Grand Canyon expeditions!”
Photo: Kelly, President George Bush and Tyler after a naturalization ceremony in Texas.