Whitewater Rafting is the Ultimate Field Trip for Students
By Ted Tibbets
As a 30-year classroom veteran and 20-year whitewater guide, I have found rafting trips to be the most fun and engaging trip students can take.
The adventure, camaraderie, and low maintenance required from the chaperones make a trip with Adventure Bound a perfect option for creating memories!
When some of my friends look at photos or videos of my trips they sometimes say things like “That looks crazy!” or “I’d be terrified.”
But here’s the deal…
Whitewater rafting, especially on the Kennebec River, is incredibly manageable. The water is deep (so there aren’t a lot of rocks to hit), the lines are forgiving, and the staff and equipment at Adventure Bound are top-notch.
Unplugged and Engaged
More and more we see young people with limited outdoor experiences. Rafting trips provide fantastic opportunities for kids to get outside, disconnect from their phones, and engage with their classmates and the real world.
While “memes” and “memories” share a few letters, that’s where the similarities end. We’re constantly bombarded with memes we’ll never remember, but splashing through the mighty waves of the Kennebec River creates memories that you’ll never forget.
And in case you ever want to be reminded, simply look at the video and photos often available to spark nostalgia or share with the folks back home.
The Weather Doesn’t Matter
As we often say on the river, “You’re going to get wet anyway!”
Rain, shine, wind, heck…even hail still can’t dampen the excitement of a rafting trip. BBQs, beach excursions, camping trips, and amusement park visits just aren’t that much fun in the rain. But geared up in wet suits and smashing through six-foot waves is still a blast in the rain!
In fact, I guided a trip last spring where it not only began to pour near the end of the trip but quickly turned to hail. My group of high school students LOVED it. “Let’s GO!” they cheered and laughed all the way through the next rapid.
While I have to admit, I much prefer a warm sunny day (I think I’m part lizard), rafting in the rain is still fun. Sitting in a soggy, heavy mist all through a baseball game…well…not so much.
The Power of Adventure
Most educators agree that we learn better when we are emotionally engaged. And excitement runs high as you burst through Big Mama and Magic Falls!
The transformative power of adventure is undeniable. When students step outside of their comfort zones and take on new challenges, they grow and learn in new ways. Adventure pushes us to our limits, both physically and mentally, and helps us develop skills like resilience, perseverance, and problem-solving. As a teacher, I’m always amazed at how different kids step up and take on previously unseen roles in these kinds of environments. The social dynamic changes, new leaders emerge, and suddenly the group is stronger.
It can also provide a new perspective on the world around us and help us appreciate the beauty and wonder of nature. By riding the epic wave-trains of the Kennebec Gorge, whitewater rafting provides the transformative power to give students newfound confidence.
I always tell my crew that rafting is the ultimate team sport. I have intimate knowledge of the river and where the raft should go. But I can only steer, I can’t really move the boat. The crew has no idea where the rocks and potential hazards are, but, by paddling together can move the boat.
Groups form bonds when they have to complete a challenge together. And rafting the Kennebec River presents an authentic group challenge with some real-life consequences. (Not to knock team-building games, but “falling off” a manila folder in the “cross the river” game doesn’t present very high stakes!)
Listening to guide commands, executing the necessary paddle strokes, and maneuvering Class IV rapids provide a sense of accomplishment and shared experience that bonds students together. Whether they are beginning a journey together or celebrating the end of the year, rafting field trips are perfect for building community.
Whether it’s a graduating class, sports team, outing club, or scout group, trip leaders write back to us afterward and say how much closer the participants seemed to be when they returned home.
Highly Trained Supervision
Finding quality chaperones for field trips is often challenging. However, on a rafting field trip, you get “built-in” chaperones; the guides function as bonus supervisors.
And not just any guide. Maine raft guides have to meet some of the highest licensing standards in the country. Not only are they certified in first aid and CPR but they have also completed a minimum of a week’s training and passed a written test administered by the Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
Plus, Adventure Bound guides specialize in working with kids. They understand how to communicate, relate, and act appropriately around students to ensure that everyone has a positive experience.
And kids just love raft guides because they’re “cool,” “lit,” “slick,” and “savage.”
Here at Adventure Bound, we built our unique facility with kids in mind. There’s something to do for EVERYONE! We have fields for soccer, frisbee, volleyball, and kickball. A pool. A climbing wall. A video game and board game room. TV for movies.
We’ve thought of everything to keep kids entertained so that chaperones can relax, join in the fun, and not worry about kids with “nothing to do.”
We’re sure you have questions. Which is great because it gives an excuse to talk about rafting.
We’re confident that we can provide a positive, unforgettable experience for students. It will be fun, full of adventure, meaningful, and, in many cases, transformative.
Give us a call today at 207-672-4300 or Email at email@example.com, and we’ll be thrilled to talk you about one of our favorite pastimes!
Find out more about our School Field Trips!
What Class Whitewater is the Kennebec?
The Upper Kennebec Gorge is Class IV, and the lower is Class II/III. The classification system goes like this:
Class I: Moving water (current)
Class II: Current with small waves with white tops. (Whitewater!)
Class III: Bigger waves capable of swamping a canoe
Class IV: Bigger waves and obstacles like rocks or hydraulics that necessitate a particular line
Class V: Bigger waves and obstacles like rocks or hydraulics that necessitate a particular line with consequences for not making that line
The Class IV Kennebec gorge is the perfect classification for student trips. It provides the ideal blend of excitement and safety.
What is the age minimum?
For the Upper Kennebec Gorge (Class IV): 10
For the Lower River (Class II/III): 8
When’s the best time to go?
We run our trips from early May through the middle of October. Due to daily scheduled dam releases, we can guarantee excellent Class IV whitewater all season long. We offer discounted trips during the months of May, September, and October, and our peak season Saturday rafting is a great value.
How big of a group can you take?
Big. Specializing in large groups of kids, we designed our trips to handle this rambunctiousness smoothly. We’ve taken as many as 240 adventurers down the river!