Taking on White Water Rafting

Aside from my overall career change, I came to business school to meet new people, live in a different place, and try things outside of my comfort zone. Therefore, when the opportunity arose, I signed up for a white water rafting trip with the Outdoors Club. Now, let me preface this by saying that I am not an outdoor person, in any shape or form. I hate bugs, and I went camping for my first time two years ago (it was great). Nevertheless, white water rafting was something that I have wanted to try for a long time, and this seemed like a perfect opportunity.

Now, to keep up with the trend of bad weather dampening weekend plans (Hurricane Irene ruined a friend’s wedding in NYC and Campout), the weekend’s white water rafting forecast was a nice and balmy high in the mid 40s with rain. Still, we made it to Ace Adventure Resort in Minden, West Virginia, on Friday night ready to go. In a typical outdoors setting, my lodge included 16 bunk beds and no bathroom. The closest one was about 20 yards down the road. In true Fuqua style, numerous parties were happening at the lodge on Friday night.

On Saturday morning, everybody was ready to go. Ace provided each rafter with a full wetsuit, booties, a windbreaker, helmet, and an oar, and encouraged us to wear non-cotton clothes underneath to stay warm. I saw my classmates in their fleece and dri fit pants, shirts, and gloves and once again realized that I am not a true outdoor person. Next up was the hour-long bus ride to the river. I was already nervous about the weather and asking myself, “what did I just get myself into?” when the tour guides explained hand signals and protocols in case you fell off the boat. All along the bus, I heard talk of Class III, IV, and V rapids and was trying to scream, “I am a beginner!”

The tour guides said numerous times that anybody who was not comfortable could stay on the bus and go back to the lodge. Let me just say that I was very tempted to stay, but knew that I had to continue. We got off the bus, formed groups, met our fellow rafters, and proceeded to the water. Of the 6 Fuquans on my boat, I was one of two who had never been rafting. I informed the tour guide of my hesitation, but he did not seem too concerned. We were ready to go! After the first rapid, I calmed down a lot and started to realize that it was really fun. Except for the frigid air. To my surprise, the water was a lot warmer than the air and we used the water to warm our hands.

Lunch was provided for us at a campsite on the side of the river and consisted of a fire, hot chocolate, and burgers. During that lunch was probably the coldest that I have been in a long long time. Then came the second half of the day with more rapids to conquer! I was definitely much more relaxed after the morning’s adventure. Overall, we rode the river, submerged ourselves in rapids from Class I – Class V, and all managed to stay on the boat!!!

A shower, warm and dry clothes, dinner, a video of the day, and it was time to drive home. Will I white water raft again? Probably, but in 80 degree weather.