Introducing Boy Scouts to rafting

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of October 9-15, 1997
Ski resort trips around California
Introducing Boy Scouts to rafting
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Introducing Boy Scouts to rafting
Question: I want to take my Chicago-area Boy Scout troop (12 and up) on a rafting trip next spring. Which is the best nearby state to accommodate our trip? I heard about a place in Georgia that combines rock climbing with rafting. Have you ever heard of it? We are very eager for our first high adventure.

Palos Park, IL
[email protected]

Whether a Boy Scout or an expert rafter,
you're sure to enjoy the Chattooga

Adventure Adviser: There are a few places where you can accomplish this task, but first a word of warning: Spring in the east is generally a very wet time, which doesn't make it conducive to rock climbing.

Plus, some of the best rivers don't get rolling with big water until July or later. With these tips in mind, I'd recommend a trip to West Virginia, which on my map seems a lot closer to Chicago than Georgia. But if Georgia's on your mind, then try the Chattooga River, scene of the movie Deliverance and a great Class II-III introduction to whitewater for your kids.

Located on the border of Georgia and South Carolina between Chattahoochee and Sumter National Forests, you could easily get some big-water thrills here in early summer, with ragers like the Class IV Bull Sluice rapid.

Nantahala Outdoor Center (800-232-7238) and Wildwater Limited (800-451-9972) offer day trips on the Chattooga for about $65 a head. Call to find out if their trips include a rock-climbing component.

In West Virginia, a number of rafting companies offer two-day combinations of raft and rock climbing. Wildwater Rafting (800-982-7238) offers a two-day "Wildwater Paddling and New River Gorge Climbing School" trip that runs anytime from April through October for $207 to $227 per person.

For rock climbing, you'll combine the incredible setting of the New River Gorge, the Grand Canyon of the East, with the adrenaline of learning a new sport. Plus, it's my impression that for the river-rafting component you can choose which river you'd like to run; all of these are incredibly scenic: the Upper New (Class I-III), Lower New (Class II), Lower Gauley (Class II-III), and Upper Gauley Rivers (Class III-V), depending on the time of year.

A few other companies that offer rafting and rock climbing are Appalachian Wildwaters (800-624-8060) and Class VI (800-252-7784). Whatever you decide, you really can't go wrong. You'll be in for amazing scenery, hearty teamwork, a great ride down a raging river, and a wonderful way to introduce your troop to the finer points of whitewater rafting.

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