A few years ago, we spent our family reunion on the banks of Colorado’s Arkansas River. Each time rafters passed by, we’d hoot and holler from our deck. My brother, the photographer, captured the action. And there was lots of it!
Yep, I’ve braved that mighty river before. As a member of a Mature Active Women’s group (MAW’s) we set off one day on a river rafting adventure. Lining up and signing in we asked for a Class 1 experience. (They called this the Granny Tour.)
It started quite tame. There’s nothing more beautiful than rafting calm water with picturesque canyons looming above you. There were seven of us snuggled together including a young teen and her Dad. That girl complained from start to finish – loudly and often.
But it didn’t take long before we were too busy to notice. Our calm float quickly turned into a churning rapid. Our guide yelled commands. We plunged our paddles and battled the waves. It was thrilling. It was fast. We got wet.
Then everything changed. Our craft shoved itself up on the back of a boulder and the force of the water threatened to topple us.
“Get out on the rock,” yelled our guide. “One at a time. Hurry up!”
Considering the alternative, it seemed like a better idea to be stranded with a whiny teenager. So out we climbed as water pummeled the raft and our guide tried to keep it from flipping. We huddled close together on that rock and wondered, what now?
A passing raft saw our plight and their guide shouted, “Can we pick someone up?” We all looked at the girl, but she wouldn’t budge.
In the meantime, we were attracting quite an audience. Passing cars tooted and waved. People gathered along the road. Fellow rafters promised to send help. It was humorous and a little humiliating. How would this play in the papers? “Mature Active Women Stranded in Class One Water. Rescue Required.”
Finally help did arrive. They told us to keep our feet up and pointed downstream. Then they threw us a rope and advised, “Let the current carry you to the side.”
Guess who went first? (Nope, the whiny one still wouldn’t budge.) So I jumped in. Man, that water was cold! And the current was far more forceful than I’d expected.
But we powered on through it like macho mamas in an Extreme Outdoors episode. In the end, we were able to boast about — wait for it — a very successful ride back on the bus!
Here’s what we learned from our unexpected adventure. In any leadership role, always remember:
- Sometimes it’s better to bail than be tossed in the river
- Rapids look rougher down in the drink than up on the road
- Whiners will ruin everyone’s ride
- If you’re in the rapids, you’re bound to get wet
- No one ever rafts the same water
- Don’t fight the current – let it lead you gradually to shore
- Wear a life vest and helmet, no matter how calm things appear
- We can’t always see what lies beneath
- There’s no shame in abandoning ship
- Remove all whiners before you shove off from shore!