The River Scout as a practice in decision making. 

Photo: Zach Mahone

Written by: Bradley Hilton
The river scout is an essential part of the whitewater experience. Whether exploring new stretches of river with my friends on paddleboards, or guiding guests on a commercial rafting trip, I thoroughly enjoy the process of scouting rapids. It provides the perfect moment to keep your group calm, take a collective breath, and practice your best decision making skills. 

In my usual scout briefing, I like to bring attention to the fact that in life, decisions are not always made in the most efficient manner. We often consider and reconsider a choice for weeks or years on end. All the while, our tools for making that decision may remain unchanged. So why not just deploy those tools and commit? In the river, that’s exactly what we do. 

  1. Approach a new challenge (rapid or obstacle).
  2. Bring all the subjective knowledge and experience you’ve acquired up to that moment.
  3. Gather the objective information available to you. 
  4. Pay attention to your intuition, nerves, and fear.
  5. Discuss with your group, make a decision, and commit.

This process should take anywhere from 5-15 minutes. Any longer, and your not bringing any new experience or information to the decision making process. You already possess all the knowledge, experience, and information available to you. 

In the physical and emotional body, this quick and effective way to decide and commit can be a refreshing practice. I encourage my guests and friends to take note of how it feels, and apply it to their lives away from whitewater. 

Stay tuned for my next blog, where I go into detail about the objective information I gather during a scout. 

To join me in person for this practice, visit

Recent Posts

Leave a Comment

Featured Video Play Icon
Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.