About Us/Curriculum Vitae

Our Mission: To deliver; high quality swiftwater rescue instruction, and leadership development, training, and judgement… leadership and instruction based on actual education and experience, facilitated safely in a truly adventurous environment.

Some of our past clients:

RMCC Ten Mile Creek Kayaks Poudre Paddlers

Our Team: Sammer Elias, Donny Smith, Justin Gilbert


- Sammer Elias has spent the majority of his life working, recreating, and living in the outdoor world. He divides his time in his career with; leading sailing expeditions that facilitate life-changing experiences while teaching life skills, character development, leadership and communication to adults, with a focus on working with war veterans; teaching leadership in its various applications; and teaching swiftwater rescue. In his personal time Sammer is focused on his passions of surfing, whitewater paddling, ocean sailing, spearfishing, and being with freinds and family. He has traveled to over 24 countries, and speaks three languages. Sammer's core values revolve around family, friends, community, challenge, kindness and giving, integrity and living simply.

Sammer is certified by PWRI as an Advanced Swiftwater Rescue Instructor Trainer, by the ACA to the highest level, level 5 Advanced Swiftwater Rescue Instructor; by the American Sailing Association as a level 7 sailing instructor, and by the U.S. Coast Guard as a licensed Captain. Additionaly, he carries an Emergency Water Safety certification, Firefighter certification, a Wilderness First Responder certification, EMT certification and more. In 2013 Sammer Elias founded the Professional Water Rescuers Institute as a unique and progressive certifing body that specializes in water based rescue. Sammer has also taught swiftwater rescue for Nantahala Outdoor Center, Colorado Mountain College, and for a variety of paddling clubs in Colorado. He instructs sailing for a few different schools internationally, and additionally continues to do work with varuous Outward Bound schools. Sammer has also delivered professional talks and presentations on risk managment and leader safety judgment. With hundreds of days whitewater paddling across the U.S. and internationally, including multiple first descents in whitewater canoeing, and years of professionally captaining rugged ocean sailing expeditions, Sammer's experience is a significant part of the foundation for what he teaches.

Curriculum Vitae, Sammer Elias:


  • United States Coast Guard Licensed Captain/ Master, with additional OUPV Near Coastal, and Aux Sail endorsement

  • American Sailing Association Certified Level 7, 206 Sailing Instructor: Keelboat Sailing, Coastal Cruising, Bareboat Chartering, Coastal Navigation, Advanced Coastal Cruising, Catamaran Sailing

  • ACA Certified Level 4 Whitewater Kayak Instructor

  • Professional Water Rescuers Institute Advanced Swiftwater Rescue Instructor Trainer

  • ACA Certfiied Level 5 Advanced Swiftwater Rescue Instructor

  • Rescue 3 International certified Advanced Swiftwater Rescue Technician

  • Ice Rescue certification

  • Fire Fighter 1 certification

  • Wildland Firefighter certification

  • Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)

  • Wilderness First Responder (WFR)

  • CPR, American Heart Association

  • Leave No Trace Outdoor Skills and Ethics Trainer

  • SCUBA Diving Certification: PADI Advanced Open Water Diver

  • Emergency Water Safety

Professional Training

  • Participant of the Wilderness Risk Management Conference, 2009

  • ACA Swiftwater Rescue training, 2002 + 2008

  • ASA sail, seamanship, and navigation training, 2001, 2002, 2011, 2014

  • Physical Geology course, 2005.

  • Ocean Orientation Sea Kayaking Leadership course, 2005.

  • Over-land navigation course, 2005.

  • Outdoor Leadership Skills course, 2005

  • Outdoor Recreation Programming course, 2006

  • Leadership Development and Psychology course, 2006

  • Natural History course, 2006

  • American wilderness ethics course, 2006

  • Survival Skills course, 2006

  • Expedition/Institutional Rock Climbing Leadership course, 2006.

  • Outward Bound Instructor training, 2006.

  • Youth Skills training, 2006

Personal and Professional Outdoor Experience and Skills
( * = detailed log available)

  • In previous years, over 180 nights in the field per year leading expeditions for a variety of organizations.

  • Swiftwater Rescue: Professional Swiftwater Rescue Instructor. Owner and head instuctor of a swiftwater rescue school. Founder of the Professional Water Rescuers Institute. Have instructed numerous courses to both professional and private boaters.

  • Whitewater Paddling: Previously one of top two whitewater canoeists globally, paddling since 1999, many 1st descents and 2nd descents in an open canoe. Member of the 2nd Place National Kayak Team winner in Vertical Challenge competition. Product testing for, and semi-sponsorship by Prijon Kayaks/Wildwasser. Streamkeeper for the American Whitewater Association. Expert level whitewater kayaker. * Whitewater Log

  • Sailing: Professional Sailing Instructor and Captain. Have professionally lead/captained many multi-week sailing expeditions with students and crew as Captain/Master. Numerous personal multi-day expeditions as skipper of own vessel, and crew on others, along with multiple open ocean passages.* Sailing Log

  • Leadership Instruction: Have taught many courses focusing on outdoor leadership, team leadership, and community Leadership to high school students, college students, business students, war veterans, and to people of all ages and occupations.

  • Rock Climbing: Instructor and facilitator in institutional rock climbing. Many years of personal rock climbing, sport, traditional, and multi-pitch.

  • Adventure Abroad: Multiple weeks leading trips abroad, including numerous personal self-contained trips to over 24 countries.



  • Coursework in the Masters of Adventure Education program at Plymouth State University, NH.

  • Coursework in the Outdoor Leadership and Outdoor Education Program at Colorado Mountain College, Leadville, CO.

  • Savannah College of Art and Design, Bachelors and Masters of Architecture.



- Donny Smith has been working and teaching in the rescue and emergency medical field for most of his adult life. He has been a career paramedic for the past 7 years, and working in the emergency medical services for a total of 15 years. He has also worked as a ski patrol for 7 years, a raft guide for 25 years, as a firefighter for 7, and in search and rescue for 6 years. Donny's life long passions in the outdoors have been whitewater kayaking, rafting, and rock climbing. He has been paddling rivers, often class 5, for the past 25 years. He lives in Buena Vista, CO with his family.

Professional Experience and Skills

  • Colorado Mountain College adjunct professor in emergency medical services and outdoors studies

  • Chaffee Country EMS Paramedic

  • CPR instructor

  • Operation Chief for Chaffee County Search and Rescue (north), instructor of swiftwater, high and low angle rescue, search, and avalanche rescue

  • Training officer/supervisor for Chaffee County Emergency Medical Services

  • MRA training officer for Chaffee County Search and Rescue


  • NREMT certified Paramedic

  • PWRI certified Advanced Swiftwater Rescue Instructor

  • ACA certifed Advanced Swiftwater Rescue Instructor

  • ACA certified Whitewater Kayak Instructor

  • Colorado certified raft instructor/trainer


-Justin Gilbert brings ten years of whitewater kayaking and canoeing experience. He is also an experienced sea kayaker, and sailor. You will often find Justin assisting in Swiftwater Rescue Courses


  • PWRI assistant Swiftwater Rescue Instructor

  • ACA certified Whitewater Canoe Instructor




- " He is a calm and rational leader. He looks out for the group and relates well to students. He is courteous to everyone and treats students equally." - student from a leadership/sea kayaking and navigation course. click here for more testomonials...