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Zoar Outdoor Hires, Trains Five Guides to Lead Canopy-tour Experience

CHARLEMONT — Zoar Outdoor recently trained five new guides to lead its canopy-tour experience in a 40-hour process that covered topics from safety to assessing the guest’s state of mind.

All five guide candidates aced written exams and technical drills on June 15, the last day of the training. Hired for the remainder of the season, which ends in November, were Brian Schempf, Matt Drazek, Haley Rode, Abby Schlinger, and Tynan Hewes. All of the trainees had previous experience riding a zipline, and they all also had outdoor experience ranging from hiking to mountain climbing.

Rode, a recent high-school graduate from Mohawk Trail Regional High School, will head to the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams in the fall. She was inspired to train for a Zoar job because three older siblings have worked at Zoar; she and her older brother, Sam, will get to work together.

Schlinger, will attend Skidmore College in the fall. As she trained, she said, “I’m trying to be more conscious about learning the procedures — paying attention to those small details that might be overlooked as a guest.”

All the trainees said that, while training, they felt the sense of responsibility that would come with being a guide.

“I’m focusing on learning how to be a good guide,” said Hewes. “I want to learn how to communicate with guests and ensure they have an awesome trip.”

Zoar currently has 43 guides for its zipline canopy tour, which was the first zip tour in southern New England and one of the first in the country; it is intricate and set entirely in the treetops, with 11 ziplines, two sky bridges, and three rappels.

“I love being a part of the new guides’ experience,” said trainer Ruben Perkins, who lives on site as the assistant lodging manager. “I love to see them work.”

Conversely, Rachel Maestri Hailey, Zoar’s canopy-tour manager, said she enjoys watching the guides lead their first training.

“Zoar is about empowering staff to take on more responsibility and empowering them in their careers and lives,” she said. “It’s satisfying to watch them grow.”

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