Outdoor Adventures Program Hosts Overnight Whitewater Rafting Event

The overnight whitewater rafting trip led by the Outdoor Adventure program took students to catch the rapids on the New River April 16.  

Alpine Ministries provided the guides for the rafting experience on the West Virginia river. Liberty students traveled by bus to West Virginia Friday night and stayed at Appalachian Bible College. 

On Saturday, guides took students rafting where they experienced the thrill of riding class three to class five rapids. Students stopped for lunch on the banks of the New River with their fellow colleagues. 

This year marked the 15th consecutive year that Outdoor Recreation hosted the event.  Director Michael Ellsworth accompanied the 12 students on this year’s whitewater rafting trip. According to Ellsworth, the New River starts with beginner rapids to get students used to the water. However, it progresses in levels of difficulty,  referred to as  “classes” along the route. 

According to Western River Expeditions, all rivers are rated on a “class” scale that establishes the size of the whitewater. This way, people are able to decide what level is best for their comfort and ability. Class one rapids are small waves that move a boat downstream swiftly, while class five rapids are bigger waves that include steep water falls or extended drops large enough to flip rafts.

Students with little to no experience whitewater rafting can participate in the trip as the guides divide rafters by beginner, intermediate and advanced skills on the river. All rafters must wear a life jacket and helmet for protection in case they are thrown from the raft. 

According to the National Park Service, the New River is one of the oldest rivers in the world and runs from North Carolina to where it intersects with the Gauley River in West Virginia.

“I mean it definitely is the premiere whitewater spot here on the East Coast,” Ellsworth said. 

With West Virginia just a short drive away, Ellsworth believes the New River Gorge is an exceptional place to take the opportunity to navigate the river. 

The trip cost $85 per student and included transportation, meals, and the boats and guides. A full-time Liberty staff member drove the bus and helped students to get oriented by leading the group on-site during
the trip.

“Our goal as a university is to provide outdoor experiences,” Ellsworth said. 

However, the whitewater rafting trip is much more than just a meaningful experience for students to connect with one another. Ellsworth suggests that the trip also develops social skills and highlights the biblical principles that Liberty upholds to its students.

The Outdoor Adventure program is a part of Liberty’s Campus Recreation and offers off-site trips for the day, overnight and the weekend. These trips can vary from hiking, camping, kayaking and so much more. 

Students interested can participate in three more Outdoor Recreation trips this semester before heading home for the summer. On April 23, Outdoor Rec will host a camping and biking trip at Grayson Highlands State Park followed by two kayaking day trips on the James River May 1.

More information and sign-ups for these trips can be found on the Liberty Campus Recreation website.

Lauren Shank is a News Reporter. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenmshank.

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