Instructors & Guides

Charles Ruechel and family owners of Elements Adventure Company
charles ruechel canoeing whitewater rapids

Charles Ruechel

Program director and head instructor

Still a farm boy at heart, Charles has always been at home in the outdoors, and loves sharing big adventures with great people.  He first got his start in professional guiding as an instructor with the National Outdoor Leadership school, leading young adults on 30-day river and mountain adventures in the Yukon and Texas. He founded Elements Adventure Company in 2013 and has since become a Master Instructor with the Recreational Canoeing Association of BC – specializing in whitewater canoeing, river rescue, and expedition canoe guiding. His interests in personal development and leadership skills led him to take training and teach courses in communication, facilitation, and life-coaching with a variety of sources including Landmark Education, Ranch Management Consultants Inc., and Karen McMullen Coaching.

With the support of his creative and talented team of instructors and guides, Charles designs courses, and expeditions that connect people to nature, teach life-long skills, and provide an atmosphere for learning and personal growth.  His favorite part of working in the business is getting to put stickers on things and showing off his hidden talent of backing up trailers into tight spaces!

Charles lives in the beautiful Lumby valley with his wife, Leanne, and their two daughters, Xenia (10) and Leo (7).


See full list of Charles’ certifications and qualifications – click HERE.

white water paddler

Keiran Rankin

Canoeing instructor and wilderness expedition guide

Even as a young teenager Keiran was paddling many of the rivers of southwestern BC with the Beaver Canoe Club.  A highly-trained and experienced canoeist, Keiran is also a graduate of the Thompson Rivers University Adventure Guide Training Program and has worked in many parts of the paddling tourism industry.  He currently lives and works in Kamloops as an elementary school teacher and as a canoe guide in the Northwest Territories during the summer months.  He is currently the President of the Recreational Canoe Association of BC, and a Master Instructor with the RCABC.  Keiran is very interested in local ecology, geography and history and has a passion for teaching about the outdoors and sharing his love of adventure.

Emily Cole, Elements Adventures

Emily Cole

Canoeing instructor and wilderness expedition guide

Emily started canoeing in university with outdoor ed courses and quickly switched her major and her focus to all things outdoors. As doors opened for her in the guiding and expedition world, she took opportunities to guide many trips on the Nahanni River and moved to Alaska to work with at risk youth running 50 day expedition based therapeutic programs along the inside passage and on the lower Stikine River. A few personal trip highlights include canoeing the Snake and Tatshenshini Rivers and sea kayaking in the Northwest Passage.

Now her focus shifts to having a home base in Revy and exploring the amazing rivers in BC as well as finding the balance of entrepreneurial pursuits with her life coaching business. With a passion for guiding and supporting journeys, both in the wilds and within oneself, river expeditions still excite and inspire Emily, whether on our local Kootenay river or in the far reaches of Canada’s North.

ana robertson

Canoeing instructor, wilderness expedition guide, gear manager, food planner

Ana grew up just outside of Nelson BC on a small hobby farm. The mountains and rivers have always been important in her life. She was on skis from the age of two and ski racing and coaching through her years in Nelson. She started canoeing with her family from a young age as a mode of transport for backcountry trips from the Green River in Utah to the Wind River in the Yukon with many rivers in between. When in Nelson during the canoe season, Ana and her dad regularly paddle the Slocan River with the local paddling community. 


Ana worked for a nonprofit company out of Ontario for the past two summers taking kids and adults with type 1 diabetes on canoe and hiking trips. Ana is currently at UVic studying earth sciences and is looking forward to a summer of river adventure with Elements!

Karl podolski

Canoeing Instructor and wilderness expedition guide

Karl is a registered massage therapist in Vernon, BC and an avid, passionate canoeist every other waking moment.  He believes every Canadian should learn to paddle a canoe – shortly after walking – and as such, has taught countless adults and kids (including his own) how to paddle.

His love for canoeing began at age seven when his father introduced him to the sport.  Over the years, he’s developed a wealth of experience in teaching canoeing, building and restoring wooden canoes for a manufacturer, selling canoes for a retailer, captaining 25-foot voyageur canoes, and even racing outrigger canoes!  His diverse and broad background in paddle sports and his enthusiastic personality makes Karl a huge asset to our team.


He is also currently the Okanagan/Shuswap zone rep with the Recreational Canoe Association of BC.

George Shelton

Canoeing instructor and wilderness expedition guide 

George stepped into a canoe a year after stepping off the plane in Calgary in 2014. This beautiful vessel that we all love has taken him from the banks of the Bow in Banff to the canyons of the Moisie in Quebec, out to the Ottawa Valleys many canoe routes and up into the Mackenzie Mountains and Arctic Prairie of the NWT. Plus, a couple of other streams and ponds in between.

When George is not floating down rivers, he is adapting skiing for folks with disabilities, nerding-out about how to make a tastier coffee or trying to master the art of throwing clay on a pottery wheel.

scott fisher

Scott Fisher

Canoeing instructor and wilderness expedition guide

Scott’s passion for nature and outdoor adventure blossomed into careers working with young people at Educo Adventure School in the BC interior and then 17 years as a faculty member at Capilano University in the Outdoor Recreation Management Diploma and Wilderness Leadership Programs in North Vancouver and Squamish, BC.  During his years with Capilano, Scott taught Instructor level paddling courses on flat and moving water, wilderness first aid and a variety of leadership courses geared for working in the outdoors. Scott loved being an integral part of a program that developed lifelong wilderness skills and leaders for the outdoor adventure industry of British Columbia.

Scott is a Master Canoe Instructor with the Recreational Canoe Association of BC. He is thrilled to be providing high quality experiences exploring Canada’s stunning natural environments with the Elements Adventure Co. team!

Daniel Leidl

Canoeing instructor and wilderness expedition guide

Even though Daniel has been transplanted from the Prairies, he has quickly embraced BC’s mountain culture as a talented and intuitive paddler, alpine rock climber, mountain biker, and backcountry skier.  

In 2018 he decided to give whitewater canoeing a try when someone related it to the experience of  telemark skiing (Daniel prefers to have his heels free).  After a multitude of courses and local day trips, Daniel went for it with his first wilderness canoe expedition completing the Upper Stikine River with Elements Adventure Co.  After that, it’s fair to say he was hooked!

Daniel has continued to grow and develop his paddling, guiding, and instructing skills by completing the RCABC Expedition Guide training, co-guiding on the Kootenay River trip and completing a 90 hour wilderness first aid course all in 2020. Daniel has become an integral part of the Elements Adventure team, facilitating the transformation that outdoor adventure brings to people’s lives.

Rowan Smart

Canoeing instructor

Growing up in Vernon, Rowan has spent many years exploring the valley and surrounding mountains. With only a handful of times in a canoe throughout his youth, he took his first Intro to Moving Water course with Elements Adventures in fall of 2018 after a recommendation from his parents. Often alongside his parents, Rowan has participated in numerous Elements Adventures courses and trips, inclusive of Four Rivers in Four Days and the Kootenay River, and has quickly shifted to solo canoeing as his preferred mode of transport down-river. In summer/fall 2021 he completed the Paddle Canada and RCABC instructor courses to take the next step and become an instructor with Elements Adventures.

Outside of canoeing, Rowan is currently finishing his PhD at UBC Okanagan and when not busy with school he can be found skiing, hiking, biking, rock climbing, or getting lost behind his camera. Some of his favorite conditions for canoeing include sub-zero temperatures in a snowstorm, and he is a firm believer that canoeing is a year-round sport!

Dave Riley

Canoeing instructor, Assistant Guide

Paddling and outdoor adventure are lifelong passions for Dave, initially sparked by his father’s stories of wilderness canoeing and guiding. As a young teen, whitewater became Dave’s favourite playground by paddling a whitewater C1 with a kayak paddle on the river in front of his family home in Ontario. This progressed to many years of paddling whitewater around the world, slalom racing on the Ontario and National teams, guiding whitewater raft trips and instructing whitewater kayaking and canoeing in Ontario and Alberta. Dave combined his paddling skills with his passion for wilderness travel to do dozens of wilderness canoe and sea-kayak trips on whitewater rivers, lakes and oceans in North and Central America, and even a couple down under. Having finished a career in forensic science, Dave moved to Silver Star Mountain with his wife in 2022. It’s like coming home, with ready access to all types of paddling, biking, skiing, mountaineering, backcountry travel, and kindred spirits. The latter includes Elements Adventures where Dave is excited to be able to share his 45+ years of paddling knowledge, skills and passion by instructing courses and guiding trips.


Wilderness expedition guide

Matt Casson hails from eastern Canada where he developed his love of canoeing on the Madawaska river. When he was 16 years old he went on his first white water canoe expedition on the Keele river in the North West Territories and instantly knew he wanted to guide on those pristine rivers. With 10 consistent seasons guiding in Canada’s north, throughout BC and Ontario his passion lies with showing folks the beauty and adventure that anyone can experience on wild rivers. Today, he calls Whistler home where he is an ACMG certified backcountry ski guide in the winter and a River guide in the summer. Shoulder seasons are spent fishing, biking and finding adventure!

Kat Donison

Elements Adventures Administrator

Kat has spent half of her life paddling around the world of spreadsheets and office admin work and is delighted to get to know the fine rivers and lakes of BC from a new perspective.

As an experienced landlubber, Kat’s adventures have mostly been within the realm of organic gardening, novice construction projects and food preservation. What she lacks in canoeing skills or paddling time she makes up for with enthusiasm for pretty much everything.