On Saturday, June 18th, three Scouts from the Troop 26 Venture Patrol, along with three adult leaders, met early in the morning at IHM for their first Venture Patrol outing, namely, Whitewater Rafting at the U.S. National Whitewater Center near Charlotte. The day started out warm and sunny, with temps expected to climb into the nineties by late afternoon. The Scouts (Alex Zito, Landon Hilliard, and Austin Garmer) and adults (Mr. Garmer, Mr. Humphrey, and Mr. Gottwalt) had prepared by bringing recommended items such as sun screen, eyeglass straps, a towel, and a change of clothes, as well as wearing the appropriate clothing like swim trunks, close-toed footwear, and a t-shirt. Since the group was obtaining AllSport Passes for the day, Personal Flotation Devices (PFD’s), helmets, and paddles were supplied by the USNWC. An AllSport Pass enables one to participate in a variety of activities offered at the Center, including climbing, ropes course, rafting, whitewater kayaking, still water kayaking, adventure course, biking, and zipping (flying above the ground on a zip line).
The plan was to arrive, participate in the first scheduled whitewater rafting session at 11:00 AM, then schedule a second whitewater rafting session for the afternoon. Between sessions, the group could eat lunch and participate in some of the other activities available at the center. For some in the group, it was their first experience with whitewater rafting, so there was some anxiety as the group went through the requisite safety training session run by one of the Center’s excellent rafting guides. We were shown (graphically!) how harmful the T-handle on the end of the paddles could be if you didn’t hang onto them at all times. After the safety briefing, the group suited up with PFD’s, helmets and paddles and were assigned a raft and guide. The size of the group made it ideal to all stay together in one raft. The guide was terrific, and helped everyone feel at ease as we started with one of the less challenging routes. Each “session” consisted of three trips down the various man-made rivers, followed by a conveyor trip back up to the top. The second and third trips down during the first session featured increasingly challenging rapids and an introduction to “surfing”, where the raft gets positioned in the back-current directly behind a submerged obstruction. Totally fun! By the end of the first 45 minute session, everyone (even the guide!) had gotten dunked in the man-made river.
The group scheduled the second session for 2:00 in the afternoon, then went to grab some lunch. After lunch, the group wanted to try the Climb-2-Zip activity, which involved climbing a rope net to a platform, then taking a zip line to the ground on the other side. Little did we know that the line would take well over an hour and force us to exit the line and return to the rafting area in order to make our second scheduled rafting time. Our second rafting guide, “Sunshine”, was entertaining and fun, as the entire group enjoyed the challenging rapids of the Competition Channel, “Zoom Flume”, and “Big Drop”. After the second session, the group split in order to allow scouts to participate in whatever other activities the Center has to offer. Not much later, a storm front moved in with wind and lightening, causing many of the activities to be temporarily shut down. As the rain came pouring down around 4:30 PM, the group decided to head back to High Point. Everyone agreed it was a great trip and a rewarding experience. Thanks to everyone who helped make this trip a success. The next Venture Patrol trip will be an extended backpacking trip planned for this Fall.