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Our Michigan Rafting Outfitters

Meet Our Rafting Outfitters

Here at Northwoods Adventures we are very proud of our guide staff. They are what make us as an organization succeed or fail. They alone make or break your trip. They are naturalists, medics, rescuers, interpreters and historians, all of which are separately demanding fields. The guides love what they do, and feel privileged to share their river expertise with you. We only hire the very best applicants and graduates from our guide school, and as a general rule we require a minimum of 3000 river miles and 600 hours to be considered. We hope you enjoy their presence, skills and knowledge as much as we do.

View our Michigan rafting trips or call us today to book a trip at (906) 563-5450.

Phil DeDecker

Phil, is a local to the area and a true ‘Yooper’ hailing from the hills of the Upper Peninsula. Phil grew up to become a guide on the Menominee River at age 16 for Argosy Adventures. He has traveled extensively around the US and Central America on a quest to paddle sea kayaks on the major bodies of flatwater, which was spurred by his love of guiding on Lake Superior years ago. After spending 5 years in Humboldt CA on the coast in the rain, Phil and his wife Jenny returned home to raise their children here in 2010. After guiding for other organizations in the area he came to us in 2011, Phil is truly a one in a million person and a phenomenal guide.

Cameron Blades

Cameron Blades hails from Kansas City Missouri, and is another testament to the quality of the Outdoor Recreation Leadership major students from Colorado Mountain College in Leadville CO… “Cam’s” grandfather, who was a Colorado river guide on the Arkansas River, introduced him to the river at an early age. He grew up canoeing and kayaking in Southern Missouri and Northern Arkansas where he found himself over the years wanting to expand his knowledge of the river and the crafts used to navigate them. Cam has many wide and varying outdoor experiences from National Rugby championships, Rock and Ice Climbing, Canyoneering and leading a Conservation Corp in the Rocky Mountains. Cameron joined our team in 2011.

Jeremiah Young

‘Miah’ as we all know him grew up on the banks of the Ohio River with Matt in Indiana. Jeremiah became a Kayaker and whitewater rafting enthusiast in 2011 and is a Rookie raft guide in 2012. His unique schedule as a Union Boilermaker allows him to Guide during our peak season. ‘Jamimah’ was in the US Navy from 2002- 2006 and did 2 tours serving his country in the Mediterranean Sea and 1 tour in the Persian Gulf aboard the Nimitz Class Aircraft Carrier, USS Truman. He has been to such exotic ports of call as England, France, Greece, Spain, Turkey, Slovania, Bahrain, Italy, Dubai, Norfolk VA and Boonville IN for short stints. ‘Dreamyah’s’ true passion is hunting though, primarily he goes after big game such as Whitetails, Mulies and Elk.

Matt Williams

Matt cut his teeth on Tennessees Nolichucky River in 2003 and continued to work for various, progressive organizations all over the U.S. as a guide, Trip Leader, Trainer and Manager for many different adventure sports also as a Search and Rescuer over the years. Matt attended Colorado Mountain College in Leadville, CO, where he studied Outdoor Recreation Leadership. Currently, Matt is applying his years of observation and experience within the recreation industry working for world class outfitters towards running Northwoods Adventures, and is working diligently to achieve his dream of operating NA as a world-class, whitewater rafting operation.

Layne Thaler

Layne grew up in Broomfield CO until the age of 4 when his family moved to the Upper Peninsula. Layne began pushing rubber rafts down the wet highway in 2005 on the Menominee River. His winter passion in life is snowboarding, Layne loves to push his limits and feel the rush of being in the moment. When he isn’t out buttering the gnar on the ski hill, Layne mostly enjoys just being outside as much as humanly possible.

Ben Blucher

Ben is a native of Aurora Colorado who got his start in whitewater rafting on Northern Wisconsin’s rivers in 2008. Ben is a ‘sick’ snowboarder and loves everything snowboarding and snowboard related. When he’s not rafting or boarding, Ben enjoys fishing for Largemouth Bass with a fervor only matched by Bill Dance.

Dan Okerlund

Richard Daniel Okerland a.k.a. Dan O, a.k.a. Dickie Dan, a.k.a. “Gator”! Dan was the founder/owner at Costa Rica Descents for the last 5 years and has been a world class guide since 2002 when he began rafting on the Arkansas River.

Cory Okerlund

She grew up in Evergreen, CO. where her father was a longtime rafter, her big brother Dan was a guide for many years and Cory followed suit. Cory recently received a BA at Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO in the field of Humanities. Her Humanities studies include a primary concentration in Art and secondary concentrations in Philosophy and English. Her life Philosophy is to live each and every day in happiness, love and enthusiasm. “Nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile.” Welcome to Northwoods Adventures Cory!

Marcello Galizio

Marcelo joins our 2012 N.A. team from Rio Tavares, Santa Catarina Brazil. Marcelo is an accomplished raft guide and safety kayaker as well as video boater and videographer. His kayaking exploits have led him to conquer many first descents in his native country of Brazil. He is fluent in Portugese, Spanish and English and is extremely passionate about rivers and surfing as well.

Bryan Drewyor

Bryan Drewyor is a veteran extreem sport enthusiast, a professional musician by trade, and a first year guide on the Menominee river. He has performed, climbed, snowboarded and mountain biked his way across the states for the past ten years, He has been competing in and coaching gymnastics for over 20 years as well. He grew up canoeing and kayaking Michigan’s many rivers, lakes and also camping on the shores of Lake Michigan near Muskegon MI. Bryan first fell in love with whitewater during trips down the Arkansas River in Colorado and was hooked while exploring Arizona’s many rivers during rock climbing trips. He has an undergraduate degree in psychology and perusing a graduate program in clinical psychology. A proud father of two and a true family man with his wife by his side, he has a honest and trained connection to people of all ages and development and continues to share this gift on and off the water.

Jim Kemp

Jim is a native of Wisconsin’s Great Northwoods who got his start in whitewater rafting on Northeastern Wisconsin’s hidden jewel rivers around the turn of the century. Jim,‘Jimbo’ or “The Amazing Jim”as we all know him, has a rare natural talent for guiding. When he’s not rafting, Jim enjoys other river-oriented activities, and is a bit of a local legend when it comes to trout fishing.

Justin Conklin

Justin was born in Columbia, South Carolina. After traveling for a few years he landed in Racine, Wisconsin, where he grew up. He was a Rookie guide in our 2013 season. Although he hadn’t spent a lot of time on the water prior to 2013, he quickly learned how great it is to go rafting and has become an excellent guide. When he isn’t rafting he works for Local 1011 District 26 Union as an apprentice. He also has two children that he spends as much free time as possible with.

Ryan Milligan

Ryan is a true Yooper. He grew up in the Norway/ Vulcan area. After serving in the United States Marine Corp. he came home to his family and friends. He became a Rookie Raft Guide in our 2013 season. Semper FI.