White Water Rafting Trip

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

Each year our campers that are over the age of 12 are offered the opportunity to experience a rafting trip on the Class IV Kennebec River in The Forks, Maine.  This exciting adventure takes place in the second week of camp each session and has been a camper highlight year after year for over a decade.  We caught up with counselor Matt Cowley to find out about his experience this past summer as a raft chaperone on the trip.


Ferg:  What was your personal highlight of the trip and what do you think the overall highlight was for the group?

Matt:  My personal highlight of the trip would have to be the journey there and back itself. It was cool seeing the group cohesion that happened on the trip. At the beginning of the trip, the van I was driving was very quiet, but by the end of the trip everyone was talking and joking with each other. I saw these same campers remain friends during the session after the trip.

I think the overall highlight of the trip would have to be the rafting itself. Even though the trip and camping was fun, all the excitement was focused around the rafting. The weather wasn’t great, but the rafting was still very fun and everyone had a great time.
Ferg: Why would you recommend the white water rafting trip to our campers and what do you think our campers take away from trip as far as experiences?

Matt:   I’d recommend the trip for campers for several reasons. Obviously rafting is fun, but there’s more to it than that. I would definitely recommend the trip to anyone new to the camp, especially if they are concerned about making friends. It automatically gives the campers who may not know each other something in common, and it’s an easy way to make friendships. I’d also recommend the trip to campers because it can break up the BHS day cycle, and it can make the session more interesting. 

I know of two campers who were very nervous about the rafting itself. I know they left this trip with a feeling of accomplishment that they were able to conquer a fear, and their self-esteem was probably a little bit higher than it was.

Ferg: Can you give us a run down of what the rafting trip itinerary looks like?

Matt:  The itinerary of the trip of the trip looked like: 

-The campers were told to have their bags packed before lunch, we ate lunch at camp, then piled into two vans and rolled out around 12:30pm.
-A few hours of driving later we stopped at a pizza shop and ate until none of us could eat anymore. We were caught in a crazy thunderstorm leaving the restaurant, but it didn’t put a damper on our journey.
-We rolled into the, luckily dry, campground around 6pm (I think, might be off). The first thing we did was scout areas that would be suitable for tents, and once we found a suitable area we worked as a group and set them up.
-Once we had the tents set up, we still had a few hours of light, so we ate dinner and just relaxed. We shared stories and played games until it got dark, and went to bed around 9:30. 
-We woke up early the next day and had breakfast, then took the tents down and packed everything in the vans.
– From there we drive ~20 minutes to the rafting staging area, where everyone was given a paddle, PFD, and a helmet. From there we boarded the bus and drove to the put-in, which was about 45 minutes away.
-We were on the water ~11pm, and rode class 2, 3, 4, and one class 5 rapid (which is very big if you are unfamiliar, it was pretty much just a 10ft drop. Very fun, and the guide was able to maneuver it safely).
-We stopped on the side of the river to have lunch, which consisted of grilled chicken, steak, pasta salad, and other sides. They had a grill already set up, which was surprising and impressive.
-We then rafted on calmer water to the take-out, where we piled back onto the bus and drove back to the staging area. From beginning to end the rafting took 3.5-4 hours. From there we started our drive back home. On the way we stopped at a gas station so everyone could get snacks.
-Got back to camp around 9:30pm, and everyone had a special late night dinner.


Ferg: Sounds like and absolute blast!  Do you have any additional and lasting comments you want to add?

Matt: I know I said it earlier, but I think the real value in this trip is what the campers can take away from it personally. Rafting is fun and exciting, but it’s the friendships, feeling of accomplishment, experience, and improved self-esteem that lasts much longer than an adrenaline rush..

Thank you to Matt Cowley for taking the time to tell us about this awesome adventure.

We recommend this rafting trip to all of our campers who are aged 12 and over.  It is supervised by Camp Birch Hill Adventure Staff like Matt Cowley and leaves on the second Sunday of each session and returns by Monday night.  The cost for the trip is $150.