Inspiring Youth Groups with River Rafting AdventuresMarch 8, 2014
by Joe Ballent ~ Holiday River Expeditions Guide
“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit.” Edward Abbey, champion of the American Southwest, conveyed this and many other thoughts through his evocative writing. This quote embodies the heart and soul of Holiday River Expeditions. Every time I hear the words of Abbey, or just walk across the boatyard at the Holiday base, I am reminded of this simple, inherent truth. The vitality and rejuvenation offered by a day on the river, and how it all started for me: with a simple youth group trip.
At the age of 17, I happened upon a unique opportunity to do a youth rafting trip in the Grand Canyon. I loved every minute of it. From rapids to wildlife, to relaxing lunches in the sun. I returned each of the following two summers. Then at 20 I began working for Holiday River Expeditions in the gorgeous southern Utah desert and haven’t wanted to be anywhere else since. It’s been an incredible experience to come full circle and go on several youth trips myself, now as a guide. Whether it be a daily trip on the Green River with Boy Scouts or a Church group on the playful Colorado River Daily. There’s also the occasional multi-day trip with families or high schoolers through the spectacular Desolation Canyon. It has been a unique privilege to pass on this special experience. To be able to work for a well-established outfitter, operating since 1966 with an outstanding record of safety and customer service, not to mention high-caliber guides.
Not everyone who goes on a youth rafting adventure is overwhelmed with wanderlust and becomes a rafting bum. But in my humble opinion, everyone should at least experience a day on the river. It’s so much more than a time and place, it’s a mindset. Who knows? It could change the course of your life forever. At the very least, you’ll be left with spectacular memories…
Joe Ballent found the river- or it found him –when he was only 16. He began guiding with Holiday in 2008 and has enjoyed the unique privilege of getting involved with Holiday’s youth trips, including the University of Utah Hospital Burn Camp program. His writing has been featured on various outdoor online communities including mountaintechs.com and backcountrybeacon.com. Joe works with troubled teens full-time but manages to find trouble around the country and world in his free time. He is an outdoorsman by trade, a romantic by choice, a guitarist in a band, and an outlaw in Europe.