Staff Spotlight: Breckin Cluff

Breckin Cluff

Trading Restaurant Work for Sun and Water

Ask folks in the outdoor industry how they got into this line of work and you’ll often get stories of being fed up with typical jobs. Usually, the previous job either had coworkers with poor attitudes or a line of angry customers. Either way, some folks throw up their hands and seek a better lifestyle working in the outdoors.

That’s how Breckin Cluff, an 18-year-old student at Alamance Community College, found his way to The Haw River Canoe & Kayak Co. in late April 2023.

Discontent led him to apply on Indeed—yes, we advertise sometimes—and he was interviewed and hired right after he applied.

We don’t like to boast, but we know quality staff when we see them.

A Teacher in the Making

Breckin is relatively new to central North Carolina, having moved here from Utah about four years ago. After graduating from Western Alamance High School, he enrolled at Alamance Community College in their Associate in Arts Teacher Prep pathway.

While Breckin has a lot of interests, he says he “always wanted to be a history teacher” and will probably focus on that area as he continues in school. Around the river, he excels at working with all age groups, but when it comes to teaching, he envisions working at a high school or college.

Every Guest Matters

During his first season at HRCK, Breckin worked as Rental Operator, outfitting guests and handing out boats down at the shed on Saxapahaw Lake. While this job appears a simple matter of dispensing gear, Breckin challenges himself to tailor his interactions to each guest’s experience level.

Breckin acknowledges that each person has a different level of confidence in their kayaking ability, so he watches the guests as “they walk up to the boat shed” to see if they “seem confident or nervous”. If someone seems anxious about paddling, he quietly focuses more on them to “make sure they’re comfortable” and feel good about their upcoming trip. His soft skills enable him to focus not only on the physical experience but on the feelings of our guests.

Why He Likes Working at HRCK
Turns out Breckin’s choice to leave the restaurant industry paid off because he enjoys the outdoors and appreciates the people he works with, noting that he never finds himself getting upset with his coworkers at HRCK. In all, he finds working here to be “a very welcoming and friendly environment,” and he particularly appreciates how more experienced staff respect his ideas even though he does not have as much paddling knowledge.

Interestingly, the angry customers of restaurant life seem to also have vanished. Something about being outdoors puts people at ease. Breckin notes that, generally, people who are kayakers are “pretty chill,” and even some of the more aggressive guests are still happy to be there and excited about getting on the water. He says, “nine times out of ten it’s already a good day. They’re in a good mood.”

Room to Grow

Though Breckin has always loved the outdoors and fondly remembers family camping trips, he has a goal for this summer: to push himself more by becoming a better paddler. With help from our experienced staff, he plans to learn how to roll a kayak this year and hopes to expand his role at HRCK by leading some guided trips.

Breckin’s positive attitude is frequently noted by our staff and guests. We appreciate all he has done for HRCK, and we’re excited to be part of his growth.