On September 25, 1993, my youth group and I all went on a white water rafting trip in New York. I had been planning this trip since the beginning of the summer, but I had never got around to actually setting a date in stone because everyone seemed to always be on vacation. A gentleman in my church had given me a brochure on white-water rafting and he also had told me that if I did plan a trip, that he wanted to be included too. The more I looked at the brochure, the more excited I got and finally, I mentioned the trip to my friends. They did not seem too excited at first, and most of them said they would be gone most of the month of August, so that blew my first try.
I went to Maine with my family during the end of August and when I came back in September, I was determined to make the trip work. I knew at least two people who had committed to going, so I called the number on the brochure and talked to the woman in charge. She was very helpful and I found out all the information I needed. The trip was finally set for September 25th. I had a total of 14 people who wanted to go, including three grownups for chaperones. The ages of the teens ranged from 14 years old to 19.
Eleven of us met at the church in Cambridge around 8:15, that gorgeous Saturday morning, and after buying what we needed at the store, we split up into three different cars and headed out to Bristol, where we were going to meet the gentleman from church. I had my two friends in the car with me, and I led the way to Bristol, where the man from church lived. The ride to his house was quite long and the further we went the more nervous I got that the others would think I was lost. Vermont is like that, you know. It takes forever to get anywhere, but I knew where I was going.
We finally made it to the house, parked in the long driveway, and got out to stretch. We waited ½ hour for the other two girls to arrive, but only one showed up. We had to leave or else we would have missed our appointment. The raft ride started at 12:00 and it was already 10:15.
The rest of the ride took two hours and when we arrived we found a bus already waiting for us. A huge raft was tied on the top. We were all given a life jacket, a “whiffle-ball” helmet and an oar. It was pretty hilarious seeing everyone wearing the funny, white hats, but hey, I had one on too. It was all part of the fun deal and I did not care.
The bus ride to the loading point took another 20 minutes and finally it was the big moment. Our guide, Tony, gave us some instructions on how to paddle, and what to do if one of us happened to fall overboard. That made us a little nervous. Before we climbed into the raft, we all gathered for prayer. We wanted to make sure the Lord was with us in the boat, protecting us the whole way.
Finally, all fourteen of us climbed in and we were off. The water was beautiful and a wee bit cold, but it seemed bearable. I was wearing my father’s wool coat from his Navy days, so I was not worried about getting cold. We hit some very large rapids the first 10 minutes of the trip, but then the water calmed down and some of the teens even jumped out to go for a swim, clothes and all. I had no desire to get that wet though, even if I was wearing a wool coat. I was afraid it would only pull me under!
The last stretch of the ride was awesome! The rapids were even bigger then the first ones, and it seemed like my side of the raft was always facing the raging waters! We were thrown up and down, and amidst screeches of delight and cold water splashing into our faces, we had the time of our lives! I was completely soaked when the ride was over, and I was surprised to see there was also a half a foot of water on the bottom of the raft.
Before we knew it we were climbing back into the bus. The ride had ended much too soon for my liking. We rode back to the rafting office sopping wet, but it was hardly noticed as we laughed and talked about our adventure. We had all gotten a taste of white water rafting and loved every minute of it!
We stopped for a quick bite to eat around 4:00 and then we all split up and went home different ways. I had my two friends with me in the car and dropped them off at their homes; I finally got home around 6:30. I had to share with my family the events of the day, and though it had been great fun, I was a little disappointed I did not have a 'movie-like' story to tell about how we all got separated from our guide and had to fend for ourselves. Maybe next time, when the snows have just melted and the water is rushing madly, something exciting will happen. Or maybe I will just have to push someone in….