Meet our Guides

Building a fire

Every Memorable Journey Needs a Great Guide

They carry backpacks instead of laptops on their daily commute. Their idea of good day at the office includes plenty of fresh air, and lots of wide, open spaces. They believe nothing beats evenings with newfound friends telling stories around a campfire. They never underestimate the joy you can find in a pair of warm, dry socks.

“They” are our adventure guides, the passionate folks who ensure that your time in the wilderness is not only wild, but rewarding, and safe too. Experts in their fields, they ensure that when you take the road less traveled, it’s to have an experience you’ll long remember.

Like the great explorers who came before them, our adventure guides didn’t take the most direct route to their careers in the wild. Here are some of their stories:

Guide:
Ken Matheson
Ken Matheson Ecosummer Expeditions Orca Camp Kayak with Orcas Whales

“What’s going to happen this year?” That’s the question Orca Camp lead guide and noted documentary filmmaker, Ken Matheson asks himself at the beginning of each season.

In an environment as unpredictable and wild as Vancouver Island’s Johnstone Strait, unexpected adventure can unfold at any moment. For Matheson, that’s half the allure of returning to Orca Camp year after year.

“There’s always something different going on,” he says. “I’ve had whales breach in front of me, and (Orca) cows teaching their young how to fish in front of my kayak. I’ve seen a grizzly (bear) jump into the water from a cliff face, and just go for a swim. Every day there’s the promise of some new little thing that keeps me going back!”

First drawn into adventure guiding as a 12-year-old... Read more

Guide:
Robyn Thomas
Robyn Thomas Ecosummer Expeditions Kayak Tours on Vancouver Island

“It was like Disneyland and Christmas, combined!” That’s how Robyn Thomas remembers feeling when she signed on to become an assistant guide at Orca Camp in the summer of 2012. A recent graduate of documentary film school, Thomas’s classmate, fellow documentarian, and adventure guide, Ken Matheson, suggested that she come along for a summer adventure – he had no way of knowing he was helping her fulfill a lifelong dream.
 
“Ken had posted something on our class Facebook page about volunteering as an assistant guide. He didn’t mention anything about Orcas at first, and he had no way of knowing I’ve been fascinated by these animals since I was a child,” recalls Thomas. When Matheson... Read more

Guide:
Willy Rens
Willy Rens Ecosummer Expeditions Sea Kayak Tours with Orcas Vancouver Island

“I come to life when I’m outdoors,” beams Willy Rens, scanning the Johnstone Strait, searching for any sign of whales swimming near Warden Beach, a crescent moon spit of gravel at the edge of the rainforest, and Orca Camp’s home base. To say that Rens is an outdoor enthusiast is more than an understatement. This is a man who has built his career doing what he loves – escaping into nature, kayaking with Orcas, leading expeditions along the indomitable West Coast Trail, heli-ski guiding British Columbia’s legendary deep powder in winter, and sharing the wonders of western Canada that have long inspired him.

Born and raised in Belgium, Rens’ love of the outdoors developed early.

“I have quite a few brothers... Read more

Guide:
Jacqui Golsby
Jacqui Golsby Ecosummer Expedtions Kayak Tours with Orcas

She’ll often hear them before she sees them, but when Jacqueline Golsby spies the first Orcas returning to the Johnstone Strait each summer, she feels as though she’s welcoming home her old friends. For Golsby, who divides her time between guiding, parenting her teenage daughter and registered massage therapy, watching the whales “sound in” is always thrilling.

Indeed, one of her most cherished encounters with Orcas occurred during the first kayak trip of the summer as the resident A30 pod returned to the Strait from Blackney Pass.

“The A30s came in right under our kayaks as they entered the Strait. We could see the flash of their bodies as they passed below us at high speed. A30 (also known as Tsitika), then the matriarch of the pod breached into the air, as if... Read more