The Culture of Chilliwack River Rafting
Found in the heart of the Chilliwack River Valley, is the unforgettable community of Chilliwack River Rafting. The Brown Family and most of their team all live on site in personalized cabins, remodelled buses and trailers. They eat together, spend their days off exploring, and their evenings jamming out. Upon arriving, you cannot help but stand in awe of the tall tree’s, high surrounding mountains and the rushing sound of the Chilliwack River. It’s a place where cell service is rare and nature is abundant.
TFV: Who joined us for our shoot?
SA: Russ Brown, Susan Anstett and our daughters, Sarah Brown and Jodi Brown.
TFV: What is the history of the land Chilliwack River Rafting is located on?
RB: The Chilliwack River Valley is in Sto:lo territory. This riverside property was industrial manufacturing from the 50s to the 70s, as the Vedder River Shake and Shingle…The English Mill. In the early 80’s, it was the first overnight rafting resort north of De Chutes Oregon. The company founded by Vladimir Kulik in ‘81 was named “R.A.F.T”. Vladimir operated for about a decade and then left for Hollywood. In 1995, Chilliwack River Rafting was established and the English Mill site was purchased as its riverside base. This five acre riverside property has become a popular rafting destination in the Chilliwack River Valley.
TFV: What is your vision for Chilliwack River Rafting?
RB: To facilitate the best possible river team building adventures with families, corporate groups, sports teams, marriage parties and private rafting groups.
SA: To provide a real B.C. experience that makes people happy.
SB + JB: To facilitate a community of happy people living and working beside the Chilliwack River in order to share our love for the Chilliwack Valley with as many people as possible.
TFV: How did your vision come to life?
SA: Russ Brown has a serious amount of love and respect for the Chilliwack River. In his 20’s, he became an expert whitewater canoeist and expedition adventurer, class V kayaker, and raft guide. It all started right here when he first started rafting in ‘81. In 1995, it was Russ’ love for this river that created Chilliwack River Rafting. As a rafting family, we have lived here at our riverside base since 1995.
RB: Both daughters rafted before they could walk. They started helping in the kitchen at an early age and since have both worked in the travel office, kitchen, campsite, bus fleet and river operations.
TFV: As a family run business, can you explain each of your roles and how you operate together?
SA: Russ’ passion and personality have given Chilliwack River Rafting its life and character, which make this a memorable place to raft and work. He oversees all river operations and is a mentor to his staff. I am sometimes known as “Momma Sue” and work with Russ and the team to assist the company to run smoothly. We want the guests and staff to understand that Chilliwack River Rafting is really all about them. We can’t say enough good things about our staff.
RB: Sarah and Jodi are graduates of the Chilliwack Center of Excellence. They are competent whitewater kayakers, raft guides and trip leaders. Sarah has a leadership role in marketing and the office. Music is also a big thing in our family.
SB + JB: Dad is the problem solver and number one decision maker, Mom also problem solves and is decision maker number two. Sarah is a sometimes decision-maker and Jodi is a team player, the heart of CRR and fun-maker. We listen for problems on the ground-up and everyone operates together. All of us are switched on all summer.
TFV: How would you describe the culture of living and working at Chilliwack River Rafting?
RB: It is a culture of communication from the client to the guide, from the guides to the trip leaders up to the owners…. Our goal is to listen to everyone and try to match their expectations with our service and employment. We want our guests to have the best possible experience and our staff to have the best working holiday jobs in B.C.
SA: Professionalism is a huge part of our culture, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have fun. If we love what we are doing, and are all thinking about our guests’ experiences, it is a very fun place to be.
SB + JB: Our Culture is a tightly-knit group of active, fun-loving slightly wacky individuals. You make lifelong friendships with people from around the world. Ex. Meeting a guide from 2008 in Pucon, Chile in 2018 and be able to reminisce about shared memories/ trips instantly.
TFV: Can you tell us a bit more about your overnight camping adventures that you offer?
RB: There are 5 acres of group campsites, a catering kitchen, washrooms, sand volleyball court, sauna and washrooms alongside the Chilliwack River. A typical Saturday night will bring together several corporate groups, a family, a pre-wedding party and many return groups of private rafting parties.
SA: Music Jams start with Russ playing guitar and he can usually coax a few people to the open mic to play….. You would be surprised who comes out of the crowd.
TFV: What are some of your favourite things to do when you’re not working?
RB: Climb, kayak, canoe and garden.
SA: Hike, yoga, be in nature and travel.
SB + JB: We love to explore new places outside with the CRR family, Kayak around BC and the world (chilliwack is still our favorite place on earth). When we’re at home, we work on the cabin and garden, go on used book runs and read in hammock or next to river. Our CRR music jams are also great.
What are your favourite seasons here in the Fraser Valley?
All seasons are great. :)
What are some of your favourite places to adventure in the Fraser Valley?
The Chilliwack River.
What is one thing you want people visiting the Fraser Valley to know about your home?
We are 1 hr from Vancouver.
If you were a destination, where would you be?
From whitewater rafting, to joining in on their open mic night, the Chilliwack River Rafting crew has created the ultimate Fraser Valley adventure. Whether you head out for a day trip or spend the night, you’re bound to have a great time.