Contribution from French Broad Rafting Staff/Family Member


Great Contribution to the French Broad Rafting Expeditions Blog from Chris. Thanks Chris for taking the time to help everyone relive this very fun day.

French Broad Rafting Expeditions: Hug Tom Butler Day

French Broad Rafting Expeditions (FBRE) takes pride in being a family business, partially because they cater to families but also because they are a family in and of themselves.  Owners Michael and Mitch Hampton foster an environment where guests, friends and employees are always welcome and feel at home.  You won’t find a more tight knit group of raft guides who come back year after year to be part of the FBRE experience that has been best described as “Livin’ the Dream”.

Like any family a good bit of practical joking and warm-hearted tomfoolery takes place at FBRE.  Mike and Mitch encourage (and sometimes mastermind) the playful activities that take place amongst the crew.  A standard game played at FBRE is the irresponsible raft guide scavenger hunt.  In order to encourage the guides to take care of their personal gear and keep the outpost clean and organized (as well as provide a few laughs), raft guides who leave their equipment out will arrive to work the next day to find it scattered about the premises.  It is not uncommon to see a guide crawling on top of a bus of digging through a helmet bin in an effort to locate their misplaced paddle or pfd.

Dress up day is another standard.  This year’ honorable mentions include Amy as a Cincinnati Bengal, Korey  as a sheik retro dancer, Kim’s white water Mumu, Jason’s Hawaiian getup complete with hula skirt, Rose’s raft guide evening wear and Ruvayne who sported a mask that was disturbingly similar to his actual visage.

While the usual activities continue, a new tradition was born this year, Hug Tom Butler Day.  First let it be known that Tom Butler is nothing short of an icon.  A professional fire fighter, ski patrol guru and all around good guy, Tom has been rafting longer than some of us have been alive.  Rocks move for Tom Butler and he seems to have a divine connection with the river.  That being said he’s not too proud to play with the “kids”.  Often initiating antics, Tom was a true sport, blushing when he discovered a pair of thong underwear tied to his throw rope in the middle of a safety talk a few weeks ago.

Because the crew at FBRE loves Tom so much they decided to give him a day all to his own.  The theme of Hug Tom Butler Day is self explanatory but the object and enthusiasm displayed warrant explanation.    Score was kept to determine who could give the most hugs.  Arguments were made as to whether extra points should be added for lewd, inappropriate or overly affectionate embraces.  Tom found himself the object of overwhelming affection as guides convinced their guests to join in the fun.

At the end of the day stories were swapped as usual, but instead of, “Did you see that clown stuck at S-Turn?”, “Did you see so and sodownsized_08010918363 hug Tom at lunch?” was the topic of the day.  Of particular interest was the performance of Jason who was so overwhelmed by his opportunity to display his love for Tom to the world that he was brought to tears.  Capping the day off with a kiss on the cheek of his idol Jason fulfilled a lifelong dream.

Fans of raft guide shenanigans will be glad to know that the FBRE spirit is strong and plans for Tickle Timmy day are underway.  Recent developments however suggest that Marti  might prove a better target as she has demonstrated a low resistance to being tickled on her knees and tummy (thanks for the tip Amos).  Check back for updates of the French Broad Rafting Experience.        

Livin’ the Dream,

Chris Wingate

NC Whitewater Rafting, Asheville, North Carolina  Go whitewater (white water) rafting near Asheville, North Carolina (NC) on the French Broad River
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