Even Whitewater Raft Guides Have An Awards Ceremony


Country music seems to have one every other week.  MTV has at least two or three a year.  Campaigns for the Oscars, the Golden Globes and the Emmys will all be launched in earnest pretty soon, and so it was that with great anticipation and no small amount of fanfare that this years French Broad Rafting Staff Awards 2011 were presented last Friday evening. 

The festivities began in earnest with the Raft Guide Olympics, an obstacle course that involved participating raft guides outfitted in PFD’s and a helmet and was, of course, a timed competition.   Guides had to race upstairs through the boat barn, slide down the back of a raft, negotiate the booby trapped aisle of the bus from the back to the front, then dash up the handicapped ramp, an event that in no way will ever begin to replace red carpet discussions of who you are wearing and how did you ever manage to lose the baby weight so fast. 

The awards were fairly evenly distributed among a select group of raft guides, proving once again that there are people who stand out in any profession.  In our case, I’m not sure this is a good thing.  Amos won an honorable mention for falling out of his boat on a calm water trip, and, for the uninitiated among you, falling out of a boat on a stretch of water that is as flat as a pancake and which moves at  snails pace is no small feat.  Makes me wonder just what it was that Justin did to top that, since he won first place in the Best Swim category.

Lyra was chosen “Scariest on and Off the Water” which, by the way, does NOT mean she is a major bad ass. It DOES however mean that if you are an insurance agent, you may want to contact her for coverage, because that girl, delightful though she may be,  is an accident just waiting to happen.

Michael Witt won a host of awards, among them “Most Stylish Maneuver”, for  dumping an entire boatload of customers in the river at Frank Bells.  He, however, managed to stay IN the boat, which isn’t surprising since, by his own admission, he IS a gigantic sissy. He also won the Golden Paddle Award, which means he’s cooperative, clean, friendly, outgoing,  and a real team player. 

Obviously, the people who voted for him have never lived with him.

The entire office staff won the Late Award, and were presented with a gigantic clock to make the prospect of being on time for work a bit more likely.  But only a bit.  I know, because I work in the office and I have absolutely no intention of being on time.  Although the thought IS nice.  Unrealistic as all hell, but nice. 

And what Raft Guide Awards ceremony would be complete without Best Chaco Tan or the Photo Op Antics Award?  I’m not sure how you could tell whether Carl Chandler had a great Chaco Tan or not with the tattoos, rebel flag t-shirt, camoflage shorts, battered cowboy hat, and two toned Van Dyke beard, but maybe the tan was the least visually overwhelming thing about him.  Shawn won for best Photo Op Antics by balancing his paddle on his chin while going over Pillow.  He also won for Stinkest Clothes and/or Gear, so I guess its good that he has a special skill to help offset his special odor.  

In any event it was a great evening with lots of good food and laughter and the great thing about it was that no one needed a stylist, a manicurist, a pilates instructor, a chauffeur or a $50,000 evening gown to have fun.  Nope, we got by on lasagna made with spaghetti noodles, a ratty assortment of French Broad Rafting t-shirts that smelled like mold, and one incredibly cute eight year old named Mariah who gave every competition her all.

Praise Earl….