Rafting in the Rockies
As things heat up here I will be returning to more regular blog posts so long as I am near an internet connection which is not something I take for granted out here:
Greetings from Denver:
I finally had a chance this week to get out into the Rocky Mountains! On Sunday I left the city to drive two hours to the Arkansas river near Buena Vista. Lindsay and I camped along the water and in the morning hopped on a rafting trip run by Noahs Ark . It was an amazing day!
Although I have spent numerous days canoeing on lakes and river, I had never before been rafting. We sat in the front of the boat on a 17 mile route that took us through Browns Canyon in class 1,2 & 3 rapids. The water was VERY cold (41 degrees) but the air was crisp, warm and dry. Sitting in the front, we got very wet, but until the last hour, it did not matter too much, as the sun was beating down on us. For the last hour the clouds rolled in and I was not the happiest of campers each time a rapid sprayed on me. While I had brought a wet suit and rain jacket, for some reason that I am still unsure of, I decided not to wear them after lunch, and so I got drenched!
So here are my thoughts on rafting. Hands down it is a lot of fun. The company we worked with was amazing. Each person was professional and had excellent people skills. But I am not sure how much skill is involved for anyone in the raft except the guide. After spending a day on the river, I am no more prepared to lead a rafting trip than I would have been before. To become a guide takes a number of weeks and requires training in hydraulics, river rescues, navigation first aid etc. While I was pleased to hear about the extensive training required, what I could not figure out was how one can obtain this training without going through a three week course. If we brought campers on a 4 day rafting trip, how many skills could they learn? Could they learn to scout rapids? Could they learn to do rescues? Could they learn to steer the raft? I did not get clear answers to any of these questions. We agreed to continue our discussion in September when their busy season finishes and we have a better sense of the excursions that we want to run.
Perhaps the best part of the two days was having a chance to leave the city and get into the outdoors. I have found that as a camp director I can spend hours upon hours at my desk writing, researching and talking. At times I feel as though I could be anywhere starting any organization while at others I am doing very camp/ outdoor specific programming. But on Monday and Tuesday there was no doubt about what I was doing. As I looked around at the canyon walls and distant peaks I imagined the 100s of teens who will come to our camp in the coming years to experience the magic of Ramah camping in the outdoors. I was reminded of the reasons that I went into this line of work to begin with. I can not wait until I have the opportunity to return to this area with our first campers and not only have a wonderful river trip, but also be able to weave in Jewish texts, values and traditions into this awesome setting.