Raft Away: Beginning River Rafting


[Ambient river noise] T.J. Miller, Assistant Professor/Beginning River Rafting Instructor: So the number one skill is how to read water–is the number one, since that’s the basis for river rafting. But also we teach safety, um, how to rig your boats, what to wear, how to dress, how to plan trips. But the number one goal is how to be safe in a raft and how to read water. So you can have skills in rafting or not. You can have equipment or not. And we cater to the never ever. All of our beginner classes cater to the never ever. We have a lot of beautiful places to explore in Alaska that you can only get to by river. I think the benefits of this sort of class is, one that it offers something outside of the normal academic realm, which studies have shown can reduce stress. A lot of our students met new people, new friends that they exchanged phone numbers with. They’re going to go out together, go rafting together–just experiencing Alaska. Getting to see some places that maybe you haven’t been or would never go if you didn’t know what you were doing. Well, rafting is not uniquely Alaskan. The benefits I would say are: one, we have trained instructors; two, we have some of the most beautiful rivers in, I would say, the world. And then, we do it in as safe an environment as we possibly can. We offer a beginning sea kayaking class every fall and spring. We offer a rock climbing in the fall. We offer river rafting in the fall. We offer canoeing sometimes. And then in the spring we offer an ice climbing class, a crevasse rescue class, a backcountry skiing class, and we offer sea kayaking again as well. You know, one of my favorite quotes when it comes to school and students is by Albert Einstein and he said, “Don’t let school get in the way of your education.” And I would just like to say that, you know academics are important, but so is getting out and experiencing life and that’s what we try to offer. [sound of boat, paddles creating waves in water] Zoooo! Alright, so you guys know what to do. Frame off. Everything in this bottom boat here, right? I’ll have the trailer back up in a minute.

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