river canoeing

Instructors and Guides

Charles Ruechel

Program Director and Head Instructor

Growing up on his family’s organic cattle and sheep ranch in Lumby, BC and studying agricultural science at the University of Alberta, Charles has a special connection and love for animals, plants, and all things nature!  During the 10 years he co-managed his family’s ranching and direct-marketing business , he also spent a great deal of time traveling and working abroad, adventuring in the wilderness, and attending many personal-development courses as part of his passion of connecting people to themselves and to the natural environment.  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.

elements adventure company Charles Ruechel

Charles and Xenia

Since 2010, Charles has been working in the field of outdoor leadership, first as an instructor with the National Outdoor Leadership School, based in Wyoming – leading young adults on 30-day river and mountain adventures in the Yukon and Texas.
With his diverse background and skill set, Charles now enjoys creating new programs, trips, and courses that share his unique perspective on nature and wilderness travel, preparing his clients for longer wilderness trips, hiking and/or canoeing in gorgeous and remote places.  All of his programs are more than just adventures – they are designed to connect people to nature, teach life-long skills, and provide an atmosphere for reflection and development.  Charles lives in Vernon BC with his wife, Leanne, and their two daughters, Xenia (9) and Leo (5).

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

Keiran Rankin

Canoeing instructor for river canoeing courses and guide for the Kootenay River, Upper Stikine River and 4 Rivers in 4 Days canoe trips

Already as a young child 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 works 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 is also working towards obtaining his Master Instructor-ship 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.




Karl Podolski

Instructor for Lake canoeing courses and Pre-course for river canoeing, assistant instructor for river canoeing courses & guide for Kootenay River Couples Adventure Retreat


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. In 1985, he participated in an outdoor recreation program where he first learned to guide canoe trips and became a flat water canoe instructor. 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.

Currently, Karl is a certified flat water canoe instructor with RCABC and is working towards his moving water instructor certification. He is also the Okanagan/Shuswap zone rep with the Recreational Canoe Association of BC.

Scott Fisher

Canoeing instructor and guide for the Kootenay River and 4 Rivers in 4 Days canoe trips

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 and his wife Carol travelled throughout BC teaching paddling instructor-level and wilderness first aid courses to various communities throughout the province.

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!

Clara Boisclair-Boussard

Canoeing instructor and guide for the Kootenay River and 4 Rivers in 4 Days canoe trips.

Clara fell in love with river tripping and outdoor activities in her teens as she went to summer camp in Quebec where she grew up. She then decided to turn this passion into a guiding career. She completed a 3 year Adventure Tourism Diploma in 2008, and have been leading whitewater canoe and backpacking expeditions from 4 to 34 days for nearly 15 years, in Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, the Yukon, the NWT and BC. She had her first taste of the spectacular Canadian northern wilderness in 2010, in the Yukon, and has been guiding northern trips in the summer since. The beauty and the immensity of Canada’s north and sub-Arctic regions won her heart and keep calling her back. Some of her favorite river trips are the Snake, the Broken Skull, the Mooseponds on the Nahanni, the Moisie (Qc) and the Kootenay in our backyard. She has also been teaching canoe courses in different provinces and has worked as an outdoor educator for the National Outdoor Leadership School in Canada, the USA and New Zealand. She is excited to be teaching and guiding more locally in BC this summer, sharing her passion for paddling and the outdoors. Clara is also very interested and always curious to learn more about the natural world and ecology and feels a deep connection to the wilderness.

When she is not paddling, you can find her rock climbing at her local crags and around the world. In the winter she works as a tail guide at K3 Cat Ski, near Revelstoke, BC, where she has been living for over 8 years and now calls home.  She is looking forward to share her next adventure with you!

Jordan Saunders

Assistant instructor for Weekend River Canoe Courses and guide for multi-day canoe expeditions

Although Jordan’s love for paddling came somewhat later in life, these days it is rare to see him without his canoe regardless of the season. He grew up with Jasper National Park and Kananaskis Country as his playground, allowing him the opportunity to develop and foster his relationship with the natural world, and in turn providing him with a strong sense of adventure. Jordan has always gravitated towards places where water dominates the landscape, which has led him to calling the Slocan valley home for the better part of a decade, where he paddles both Slocan Lake and River 12 months of the year. Jordan’s passion lies in introducing people to paddling, particularly whitewater canoeing, and aspires to build a strong canoe culture in his community to enjoy and respect the abundance of beautiful water.  When he is not paddling, Jordan can be found deep in the mountains, building forestry and hiking bridges to fund his various adventures and passion projects.

Daniel Leidl

Assistant instructor for Weekend River Canoe Courses and guide for multi-day canoe expeditions

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.  He is at home in the mountains and rivers as much as in his beautiful yurt, where he lives close to nature near Vernon with his partner, Shauna. Whether on an alpine trip in the Bugaboos, or in frothy white water on the Clearwater River, he has found himself connecting to nature and himself in ways he never thought possible.

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.

Matt Casson

Guide for the Kootenay River Canoe Trip.

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!


Shauna McGowan

Big Canoe Guide and Retreat Facilitator

Bio coming soon – stay tuned, it’s going to be a good one!



Mark Bauer

Guide for multi-day canoe expeditions.

Growing up paddling in Ontario’s vast lake country, Mark began his passion for wilderness canoeing at age 10. Spending his youth at summer camp, first as an avid participant on lake and river trips, and then as a leader and guide on those same lakes and rivers, wilderness has always been synonymous with reflection, connection and discovery of place, others, and self.

Mark has worked in the Canadian Rockies for YMCA Camp Chief Hector as a hike, canoe and horse instructor for 7 summers. Mark was the director of a unique and award-winning leadership wilderness program run from a remote mountain site on the north-eastern border of Banff National Park. There, Mark held training, guiding, and programming responsibilities for 10 staff, 32 participants, and 20 horses. Mark directed 30-day sessions focused on personal growth and the development of strong backcountry skills through wilderness living and travel.

At Camp Chief Hector Mark also co-guided a transformative 65-day western arctic river expedition focused on river travel, leadership, cultural awareness, and the fostering of community relations with the diverse Dene, Gwich’in, Sahtu and Inuvialuit communities along the river.

Mark trained as a lawyer in British Columbia studying Aboriginal law and working for the Attorney General of British Columbia on the Tsilhqot’in Nation case, now the leading Aboriginal rights and title case in Canada. Mark has taught senior courses in law, economics, and history at a downtown Toronto high school for the past 12 years.

Kat Donison

– Elements Adventures Admin

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 experience or skill she makes up for with enthusiasm for pretty much everything.


Alvin Tam

– instructor with the Wilderness Circus Canoe Camp and Corporate Retreat facilitator

Alvin Tam circusCaptivated by a vision to travel the world and meet new cultures, Alvin discovered the National Circus School in Montreal at the age of 18 and trained intensively for 4 years.  He eventually ended up crossing the globe several times as an acrobatic performer, coach and actor working with many circus and theatrical companies, including the renowned Cirque du Soleil, in KA in Las Vegas.  He now speaks four languages and has traveled to over 12 countries performing over 3000 shows.  Alvin is the co-founder of Barefoot Sanctuary yoga studio, author of “The Art of Impossible” and pioneer of Acrofit, an acrobatic fitness system.  Alvin brings over 25 years of professional circus, martial arts and teaching experience to his coaching repertoire and has taught thousands of children, youth and adults in circus camps around the world.

Jada Tam

– volunteer with the Wilderness Circus Canoe Camp and Corporate Retreat facilitator

jadatam-headshotJada is a professional yoga instructor of 18 years and developed the Expressive Yoga Dance form, a relaxing and revitalizing form of yoga and ethnic dance.  Her unique yoga form blends traditional Hatha techniques, deep breathing and hip and heart opening movements that increase circulation, flexibility and creative flow.  Jada also has lead intramural gymnastics, trapeze, creative dance and has taught kids’ circus camps and private retreats.  She is a strong advocate for healthy eating, strength building, herbology and nutrition through nature.  Jada is the co-founder of Barefoot Sanctuary, Las Vegas’ premier community yoga studio.