Thursday
Apr042013

The best rafting company on the Ocoee.

Everybody these days seems to claim that they are the best.  I was recently in New York City (the media capitol of world).  Here you find the best of almost anything.  They say that they have the best pizza and cannolis, the best shopping and food, the best shows and plays and it goes on forever.  I was inundated by the word "best" so I started to think what does it really mean "to be the best"?  The more I thought the more I came up with what it doesn't mean.  It does not mean that you are the biggest or the oldest, it does not mean you are the newest or the most cutting edge.  I think it is much more than that.  I think that it has to do with core values and how you present those core values to everyone.  

There are lots of rafting companies on the Ocoee River and we all raft the same sections of river.   So what distinguishes one company from the rest?  Every company is different on the Ocoee River.  We have very large corporate companies to the very small several employee companies.  We all use about the same equipment and we all use the same type school buses for transporting our customers.  I believe it is the people that make the difference.  I starts with me the owner of Outdoor Adventure Rafting.  My philosophy is singular in thought and purpose to be as customer driven as possible.  

This means that in every decision I make, first starts with the customer in mind.  How will it effect the customer and how will this benefit the customer?  Once those are answered everything else is academic.  I want every customer to feel like OAR is their rafting company.  Starting with this idea, it guides me in hiring employees and training them as well.  I hire people that are happy and friendly and willing to set aside their needs for the customer.  So, when a customer calls or walks though the door they first get a smile and then a can do attitude.  We will do everything in our power to make sure the customer is happy.  Since we deal in outdoor activities, we are also aware of the possible dangers that can occur when participating in those activities.  

The correct training is critical.  Our training program goes well beyond the basic state requirements.  We have evaluated each segment of outdoor activity that we facilitate and take each employee though a specific training regiment to make sure that when the customer is involved that ever possible safety measure is being implemented.  Examples of these measures would be the advanced Swift Water Training that each guide must complete in order to work for OAR or the advanced Alpine Tower certification that a ropes guide must complete.

Being the "best" in my opinion, is what Outdoor Adventure Rafting does every minute of every day.  We think of the customer first. 

Thursday
Mar142013

How did we come to raft on the Ocoee?

The history of the Ocoee begins in 1910.  The Ocoee dam #1 and #2 were built and thus the river was controlled to generate electric power.  A large wooden flume that runs next to the middle section of the river was built to create head pressure for the turbines down stream.  TVA purchased the dams in 1939 and ran it until September of 1976.  This is when the historic flume broke and had to be repaired.  Since it was over 50 years old TVA could not just replace the flume they had to restore it to its original structure.  During the time of the flumes reconstruction, people start to raft the middle section of the Ocoee River.  As more and more people did small rafting companies were created.  Finally, the flume was fixed and TVA cut the water flow off to the middle river and they were met with a lot of opposition from the now new Ocoee rafting companies.  Lots of pressure from a grass roots effort and eventually a congressional order forced TVA to give the rafting companies 116 days of water releases on the Middle Ocoee River.  So, in 1977 river rafting officially started on the Ocoee River and it has been going ever since.  The Middle Ocoee is the single most rafted section of river in the United States.  It annually commercially rafts around 210,000 people a year and provides countless private boaters an opportunity to enjoy a world class river.

The Upper Section of the river also has a flume but it is a modern flume made of steel.  The rafting on the upper started in 1998 when the US Olympic Committee decided that the Ocoee would be the best venue for the games which were being held in Atlanta, GA.  The water release on the upper is limited to only 34 days a year and people come from all over the county to raft this section of river.

 

Monday
Mar112013

What to wear rafting on the Ocoee River?

This question seems to pop up in the early and late rafting seasons every year.  The most important thing to remember, when going rafting in the non summer months, is you want to be comfortable.   If the air temperature is chilly you want to make sure you bring the right gear to raft.  You never want to wear cotton.  Cotton, when wet, holds no body heat in and will cool you down quickly.  It is great in the summer when the temperature outside is hot but in the colder months leave the cotton at home.  You want to wear micro fleece and wool.  These are great insulators even when wet.  I always wear wool socks when I am on the river, even in the summer.  Cold weather rafting can be fantastic and you will probably have most if not all the river to yourself.  Look to rent a wet suit and or a splash jacket when you raft.  Wet suits are great and you need to wear them next to the skin.  Put it over just your bathing suit and you can then even add a fleece up top or a wool sweater and if you put a splash jacket on top of that you should be toasty warm on your rafting adventure.  You need to remember that you will be paddling going down the river and that will help keep you warm as well.  It is a different rafting  experience in the early and late season.  It is my favorite time to raft because I can get out and enjoy the peace of the great outdoors but when you do a little preparation before you come can make a great experience one your will never forget.

Saturday
Mar092013

How to create your own youth group camp

Youth Group Leaders are constantly trying to plan for summer youth activities, even in the summer they are busy planning.  Planning which camp to take your group to has become a major endeavour.  Camps have continued to go up in price and it seems as if the budget keeps getting smaller and smaller.  So, how do you plan a great worship/outdoor experience on a budget.  The answer is simple.  You facilitate all the worship activities and let some one else facilitate all the camp/outdoor activities.  It will mean more work for the leaders but the savings can mean the difference of getting to do camp or not.  Picking the places critical, it has to have lots of activities right on property.  Needs facilities for either cooking or catering and housing or camping.  Also, the area needs to be big enough to accommodate your entire group with room to spare.  This means areas that groups can gather and worship or do Bible studies even if the weather does not cooperate.  When searching, look for places that have all these amenities and you can create your very own youth camp and at the same time save some of your precious resources.  

Monday
Feb252013

Ocoee rafting starts soon.

I woke up this morning early to a bunch of wild geese making noise in my back yard.  I got up and grabbed a cup of coffee and went out side with my lap top to sit on the porch and plan my day.  I popped open my calendar and realized rafting season was upon us.  I had been so busy making sure my phones were being answered and the insurance forms were up to date that opening day was coming and I had not noticed.  It is easy to miss the obvious.  We get so busy these days with our work and family that we have stop taking time to enjoy the change of seasons and what it brings.   This season brings rafting!!  I have been talking to all your favorite guides and they are all coming back.  They are all have the itch to get back on the water and it all starts on March 16th. March can be unpredictable but it is a great time to raft.  Typically you have the entire river to your self because no one is as brave as you.  So, this year, be the first to raft the Ocoee.  

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