Under the sweltering midsummer sun, Isaac Benson ran over to a group of people exiting the Boise river and lifted their raft onto a trailer bed — the daily drill. His team was camped out in Ann Morrison Park greeting Boise locals and visitors who were eager to float the river. This is how Isaac has spent his last four summers.
Working for Boise River Rafts and Tubes runs in Isaac’s family. His older brother worked several summers on the river, so Isaac was encouraged to try it. He wasn’t thrilled about the job when he started working in the warehouse but grew to enjoy the environment and his coworkers when he got to work right by the river, interact with customers, and be in the sun. He had a blast working with other college students – including some Boise State football players.
Isaac has lived in Boise his whole life, but his summer job has given him a whole new appreciation for the Boise River, the people who enjoy it every year, and the skills he’s learned along the way.
One of the best things about working on the river, in Isaac’s mind, is interacting and networking with lots of different people including many Boise State students. “You meet a bunch of cool people working down there,” he said. “Even just people you talk to who get off the river. It could be someone you’ve seen in class or something and they’re like ‘Let’s float next time!’ and you connect that way.”
“Overall, you definitely learn to appreciate people more. At the river company, the people are always super nice.” He’s heard plenty of stories from people getting off the river whether he’s chatting with bridal parties or playing catch with peers and kids in the park.
“You learn how to talk to pretty much everyone.” Collaborating with the river raft company’s different teams has strengthened his communication skills while helping him build connections with the people he meets.
There are three positions for students with Boise River Rafts and Tubes: cashier, warehouse worker, and Ann Morrison worker.
Isaac’s current position as an Ann Morrison worker and an assistant manager comes with the greatest level of responsibility. Since he and his coworkers aren’t under someone else’s supervision, decisions are up to the seasoned workers’ discretion.
Sometimes he has to stop fights, call the fire department in the event someone needs rescue, and even go with a rescue team to retrieve someone and their tube. Even though it’s a challenging part of the job, it’s crucial to everyone’s safety. He’s “expected to have that responsibility” so he delegates work, tracks inventory, and manages employees so that everything runs smoothly. It’s a team effort to make sure customers have an enjoyable time on the river.
For first-time floaters, Isaac recommends investing in a high-quality raft or renting one from Boise River Rafts and Tube to make your experience enjoyable. Take it from someone who has seen many river float fails: “You can float it on anything, but that doesn’t mean you should.” Inflatable rubber ducky tubes and air mattresses don’t cut it in the long run.
Problem-solving is a skill Issac exercises regularly. He decides how many rafts to load onto the trucks that are sent back to the top of the river based on what customers need. Another is rescuing people. In the event of a rescue, he has to send out the right number of people while still keeping enough workers on site to maintain the operations in the park.
Isaac predicts that Boise River Rafts and Tube will open mid to late July until Labor Day due to the river’s current dangerous conditions. Anytime you float the river, there’s risk involved but, “If you listen to what they tell you to do, it’s not a hard float.”
Pro tip: The primetime to float the river is any time after the 4th of July during the week.
Practicing a good work ethic
Isaac may return to his job on the river to help out for the short season, but he also wants to use his time to look for an internship and make progress toward his career goals.
Isaac is a 3rd year marketing major who has the opportunity to graduate next semester or stay for an additional semester to take more classes. He’s interested in looking at marketing insights to be a data analyst. “I know I at least want a business degree that I can apply to a lot of different jobs.”
With the variety of skills he’s gained so far, the future marketer takes his time management more seriously now. “I’ve definitely learned to try to get my work done early. I would rather work hard at the beginning of something than push it off until the end and have to do it all at once.”
This comes in handy when working 12-hour days in the heat of summer because “You learn how to do long days.” It’s fun work, but taxing nonetheless.
Appreciating the little things
Isaac remembers floating down the river in his little innertube when he was young and getting separated from his group because he decided to go on his own route. That landed him trapped under a bridge so, (understandably), he took a step away from the river for a while.
Now, he enjoys kicking back with his friends for a fun, relaxing float down the river. “It’s one of my favorite summer activities. Just get a big group together and float the river, chill, and listen to music.”
The Boise River has contributed to Isaac’s appreciation for growing up in Boise and attending Boise State. “Boise is overall beautiful and you get to experience each season which you don’t get everywhere.”
Isaac loves everything Boise State has to offer from the size of the campus to the way classes are set up. When it comes to his Boise State experience, he said, “I wouldn’t have changed a thing.”
Career Services can help you explore your hard-earned skills and teach you how to apply them to your future career. Experiences teach you lessons that you can grow from in ways you might not have expected. Maybe it’s working on the river, being a barista, or a campus employee. Whatever your “gig” is, look for the potential it has to help you thrive in the future.