Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Business of Rafting & Random Thoughts

The business of rafting is almost a misnomer since most of us got into this because of a love of rivers, rafting and the outdoors. We want to share this love and introduce this activity to other people. Sharing this joy is almost a religious calling... the rivers beckon, we hear and we go. To be in this business is a positive thing. We sell joy... we sell excitement. We sell an experience not compared to much. And it is an activity shared with many types of users. With skiing, you have to accomplish it on your own. You know, ya put on the skis and ya have to go downhill by yourself. You can't depend on anyone else, but yourself. With rafting, the beginner, the timid, the less athletic person who is spiritually and mentally ready can go rafting and conquer their fear and accomplish quite a feat in conjunction with a team. A team of like-minded individuals who are guided by professional paddlers.

The business end is filled with politics. We're governed by several agencies on our rivers that include the county, the state, the feds and others. That's a lot of agencies duplicating essentially the same paperwork and resources to mandate the same rules and regulations. We have a lobbying group who takes care of protecting our industry from overly zealous politicians in DC. We have environmental groups who look after our precious resources and help us to keep rivers flowing. We work with the utilities who control dam releases on some of our rivers as we negotiate for flows much like agriculture and municipalities... yes, water is our number one precious resource in the state of California...

Recently, we took down a group of middle school kids from a Bay Area youth group. Back to back overnighters for the entire week, and each day approximately 50 kids ranging from 12 to 14 yrs rafted the venerable South Fork American River. The kids enjoyed themselves immensely. Most were definitely priviledged young people, living a bountiful life of good schools, great neighborhoods and wonderful opportunities. Do they know how lucky they are? Do they know how many children their age that never see a tree or experience a naturally moving stream? Living in an urban setting doesn't prevent you from experiencing these things, but money does. Money for activities like this. What I'd like to ask is that those of you who have the resources; check your communities. See if there are organizations who offer outdoor activities to inner city kids... and then donate your money to them. Support them. Help them to introduce these opportunities to the less priviledge. Every year, we take our resources and donate to these groups who could never afford these trips...

W.E.T. River Trips started out as a rafting company dedicated to at-risk youth. From those beginnings, we set out to introduce the team-building aspects of rafting and paddling to those youth groups. We see it as a constitutional right that everyone enjoy a part of their lives in the great outdoors. From those introductions, young people will connect to nature and will understand how important it is to place yourself in the universe. You matter. You can make a difference. And as future voters, they will have a deep connection to saving or preserving these places in our world...

Speaking of connecting, I had some readers who were upset with the tone of the Maddox blog. Didn't like Maddox or didn't like his politics. Ok. So, don't read him...? Nothing prevents anyone from reading anyone's website or blog. And, where is your sense of humor? I like reading anything that gives me a good belly laugh. The kind where you're sitting in your chair and your head rolls back and a big ha ha comes exploding out somewhere deep from your gut. I like reading this stuff... even when it's politically incorrect... sometimes that's the funniest.

My friend who writes political blogs says some pretty damning things and I get such a kick out of his bravery and courage to post inflammmatory words about this current administration. It's flippin' funny that anyone could get so emotionally disturbed about such posts. Remember it's an opinion... a United States of America Constitutional right to write about anything we want. And that's why we all blog. The only thing that I see as a problem is that perhaps some of us and you may only read the opinions that we agree or concur with. That is limiting and could be perceived as narrow-minded. So, I even read political blogs about things that I disagree with so that I can be informed and know what the "opposition" thinks. It's important to have a balanced view. Most of us are opinionated and have a political view, but I think the majority of us all have the same hopes and dreams... a good life, loving family, the ability to make a good living and support your loved ones, a safe place to live... see we are all alike.

I am definitely a liberal leaning to the left... but only slightly to the left, because I also pay taxes and am raising children and I worry about "bad" stuff happening to my family. So political parties really don't offer much for me anymore. I've been a registered Democrat for a long time, mom was a Republican and dad was a Kennedy Democrat... so for me, political parties just don't seem important anymore. I vote for specific issues, and I vote for people who seem to have the common sense necessary to make decisions based on sound reasoning and people's well-being. So I might not vote for a Democratic candidate just because I'm a Democrat. Or I might not vote for a bond issue because I see wasteful spending in an area which is upsetting. Or, I might not vote for the liberal politician because his environmental record sucks. But there are some things that are quite automatic for me... I will vote against unbridled development in agricultural and wilderness areas. I will vote against this administration's attempts to destroy our National Parks and rivers. Because once it's gone, people, it is gone forever. And that's not what we want to leave as a legacy for our children.

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