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Program Overview

“River Roots has been said to be an Alternative to multi year post secondary education programs, both by grads and industry professionals !!”

The River Roots Program is based out of Huntsville, On with a focus on Whitewater Canoeing.  At the end of six short weeks grads are employable in the outdoor adventure tourism industry, having completed 5+ certifications, a 21-day James Bay Expedition and many workshops focusing on both hard and soft skills.  Not to mention all of the networking opportunities provided.

Our goal of the River Roots Program is to create a learning opportunity for students to become well rounded outdoor professionals.  Those who graduate from the program will be hard working, growth oriented leaders that have the skills, experience, and certifications to manage risk, make decisions, be environmental stewards, and inspire others.

Your end goal may be to enter a career in outdoor education or backcountry guiding, to seek personal growth, to gain certifications and experience, to go on an epic adventure or have stories to last a lifetime.  You decide.

By fully immersing yourself for 42 days with a focus on white water canoeing expeditions, you will;

  • Earn Certifications
  • Learn to manage risk
  • Travel through remote locations
  • Become Environmental Stewards 
  • Develop Leadership Skills
  • Work within a small team environment

Gaining these skills will come from intense training blocks in the first 21 days of the program that will involve learning from a number of different industry professionals with a vast array of personal and professional experiences.  Woven throughout various trainings and expeditions, we will have a variety of lessons on topics such as;

  • Leadership
  • Risk Management
  • Environmental Science
  • Facilitation 
  • Decision Making
  • Indigenous Relationships

The last 21 days of the program will involve a river expedition that will be on either the Missinaibi or Harricanaw River finishing in Moosonee / Moose Factory on the James Bay Coast.  On this expedition students will have the opportunity to practice and develop the skills gained in the beginning of the program.  Practice will happen through lived experience, simulation training, feedback, debriefs and leader of the day opportunities.

River Roots is an incredible experience where students must be ready and willing to learn experientially, be pushed to the edge of their comfort zone everyday, challenge their physical and emotional being and be fully present for 42 days.

NEW for 2023 we have launched a River Roots Program Bursary. Financial Assistance will be available through an application process.

Food & Lodging

We will live, work, and learn together for the duration of the program. The home base for the program will be the MHO Barn which sits on 20 acres of mostly forest land just 15 mins south of Huntsville.  When here, participants will take turns preparing meals in both our indoor and outdoor kitchens and tent camp onsite.  There is an indoor space for meetings, classes and preparing for expeditions.  Throughout the program participants will travel (in MHO vehicles and/or chartered buses) to a number of different locations for various courses and expeditions where we will also tent camp.

Food is included in the cost of this program for the entire 42 days.  It will be the responsibility of the participants to pack and prepare meals as a group everyday.  This will look different depending on the location.  Some meals will be backcountry over the fire, others may be in some sort of a kitchen and in some cases will be catered for students.

Resources and Financing


A 25% deposit is all that is required to reserve your spot. Balance is due one month prior to course start. MHO can help individuals finance up to 50% of the course fee. Please reach out to discuss your options with us if needed.

MHO Bursary: Qualified applicants can receive up to a $1000 Bursary to provide financial assistance. Applicants are subject to a case review. Please send us an email with a letter of interest stating your financial position and how this course will impact you.

If you are currently enrolled in post secondary education and you are able to gain credits through this course you may also be eligible for OSAP or able to use RESP’s.

You can direct your employer to learn about the Canada-Ontario Job Grant to start a conversation on paid job skills training.

Employers in the field: 

Expert guiding and instruction are vital to your Outdoor Recreation and Education organization. The River Roots course is eligible for the  Canada-Ontario Job Grant which supports the majority of employee training costs with additional flexibility for small employers.

Who Is This Program For

  • Those looking for entry level positions as an outdoor guide or instructor
  • Those looking for a career change
  • Gap year students
  • Camp Staff needing certification and skills to become a canoe trip leader
  • Anyone looking for a break, or an escape
  • Someone seeking an opportunity for personal challenge and/or growth
  • Those looking to develop transferable leadership skills
  • Individuals interested in taking friends and family into the backcountry in a comfortable and safe way
  • Post-Secondary Students wanting to gain extra college or university credits
  • Anyone over the age of 18 looking for an adventure


The goal of this program is to teach and give the opportunity to learn and practice new skills.  Therefore, extensive backcountry experience and high level of fitness are NOT necessary to participate in the program

We are seeking those individuals that are excited to learn and be outside, willing to be challenged physically and emotionally, and ready to be a part of a small community for the duration of the program.


  • At least 18 years old
  • Have some previous camping experience
  • Able to engage in moderate physical activity for the duration of the day with little down time
  • Ability to swim 250m without a lifejacket
  • Agree to course rules and expectations
  • 80 hr WFR (Wilderness First Responder) – MHO runs courses regularly and we offer it as an ‘add on’ to RR students with a 40% discount for participants ($633 for 80hr, $345 for recert)

Certifications Included


Interested in Registering ?

Click HERE to Register

Give our Director, Erin Pehar a call in the office 705-789-6479 to get started and answer any questions

Upcoming Training Dates

Apr 24, 2025 - Jun 04, 2025 Register Now
10 Spots Available
Apr 30, 2026 - Jun 11, 2026 Register Now
10 Spots Available