It’s a hot spring day and two yellow school buses squeal their breaks and come to a halt. With the engine idling the roar of the students rivals that of the river nearby. The raft guides are smiling and waving, muttering “here we go” under their breath, readying themselves for the 60 hormonal sweaty teenagers that are about to be thrust into their care.
I always felt sympathetic to these kids as they were herded around. Most them in their everyday lives spent very little time playing outdoors. Pre-teens were pulled from their game consoles and teenagers from intense study and school commitments and were placed abruptly in the over stimulating environment of the riparian forest about to embark on a whitewater adventure. Most of the time they just went wild. I often wondered whether the kids remembered anything other than how many kills they got with their water cannons.
For a river guide like me it was an obscene waste of a great opportunity. So when I came to be an owner and operator of River Runners, I wanted to offer kids more for their parents money. I wanted to give them the experience they deserved. I wanted to make them fall in love with being outside.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think every moment of a kids play should be programmed. Quite the contrary. I think kids should be given great freedom to express themselves in and interact with the natural environment but within a determined set of boundaries.
At River Runners we often say, ’okay look, we are going to do this really fun activity, but to do it we need you all to follow these rules because if you don’t follow these rules it increases the chances of someone getting hurt which means we can’t do the activity’. When we get the kids on board with this the possibilities are endless. Now they can really experience the pure joy of being on the river: paddling upstream to surf, swimming in currents and eddies, skipping rocks, jumping off rocks and simply exploring.
At River Runners we are focused on continuing to develop great trips for people of all ages. But for 2018 we have cooked up something special in particular for kids groups whether it be school field trips, scouts or any other group of adventure hungry young folk. Our Whitewater Awareness program has all the great fun of the usual River Runners two day adventure plus more. With the focus being on how to swim, walk and be safe in both swiftwater and whitewater there are so many more opportunity for fun! Check it out here.
Vice President and River Guide