Amazing Kids! Magazine

Paddlin’ down the River

By Jack Borgerding


I’m sitting on a long, bumpy bus ride as it winds down the valley toward the raging river. I’m already in a foul mood because it’s seven in the morning and I’m not a morning person. I can’t even imagine dipping my toes, much less my entire body, into the cold New River Gorge River on this hazy, dreary morning. I’m out of the bus now and carrying the world’s largest raft toward the river. I have a life jacket on my torso, a helmet on my head, and a paddle in my hands. I dip my feet into the river. I’m seconds away from just quitting and going home. My family is paired up with another family who is talking my ear off. It’s too late to quit now; I have to spend my day miserably.

We are twisting and turning around rocks, and I have the worst spot in the raft. I’m stuck all the way in the back by our guide. He’s from the area, and he thinks he knows everything about the turns and rocks of the river and rafting in it. We are going down a huge rapid, and I am so frightened, I close my eyes and pray that I get to live another day. The rapid is finally over, and I repeat seventeen more rapids in my head. My stomach is hissing at me, and I need an amazing lunch right now, or I won’t make it.

We pull to the shore and they pull out rotten food and dirty, sandy fish. Then to make matters worse, I have to live just on the water they give us. After everyone finishes eating their nasty portion, it is back to business; it is time for the rapids. Twelve more rapids to go, I think again. But after seeing everyone eat everything and talk about the food, I change my focus; I decide not to be scared and just be thankful for the wonderful trip we are having.

We set back into the water, and I take control; I go to sit up front. I discover I am no longer afraid. We are twisting and turning away and avoiding huge rocks. Believe it or not, I am smiling, and it seems like the sun is coming out. It is awesome! Then, we are going slowly, and we stop to lie down and look at an amazing bridge called the New River Gorge Bridge, one of the longest-spanning bridges in the country. It’s 876 feet high, and once a year people are allowed to bungee jump off it. Behind that bridge is the most truly incredible sunset I have ever seen. The colors of the sky blend like melting sherbet. As I enjoy that sunset, I think to myself how amazing this place is in West Virginia. It really teaches me to be optimistic about trips, no matter what hour of the day.

Even though I really want to stay in the raft longer, we have to bring it back to the rental station. The raft that felt awkward and heavy in the morning now seems manageable. The bus ride back is the perfect time to soak in the events of the day. Our guide seems smarter, and the snack on the bus is delicious. That day on the river, I learn the importance of being open-minded to new opportunities. It is important to be optimistic; something good may be coming my way.