A Tourism and Outdoor Leadership Alumnus Takes His Degree to the River


Technical ability, equipment knowledge and leadership skill can help turn a curious tourist into a confident kayaker. That’s what Christopher “Topher” Robertson does on a large scale as associate program director at Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe in Bend. He and the Tumalo Creek team encourage hundreds of visitors and locals out onto the Deschutes and other rivers each year. 

This summer, when the Bend Park & Recreation District completes its latest project — an improved Colorado Dam with whitewater features for kayakers — the Tumalo Creek team will be even busier. “Our customers and the paddling community are thrilled about whitewater in Bend,” says Robertson.

Robertson graduated from OSU-Cascades’ tourism and outdoor leadership program in 2014. The degree program is unusual in that it blends outdoor leadership, business and communication skills. Growing up in Utah, Robertson spent much of his childhood outside.  “I’d rather play outside than go to a football game,” he says.

He was a backcountry ranger and worked for the National Park Service before moving to Bend and enrolling at OSU-Cascades. He interned as a whitewater kayak instructor at Tumalo Creek. After the internship, he was hired as the lead whitewater kayak instructor and has since been promoted.