A Whitewater Rafting Adventure That Brought Me Closer to My Pre-Teen Son


On our recent trip to the Smoky Mountains I wanted to do something special with Andrew. To be honest, since he is almost 11 I wanted to do something that would be more fun for him and something that was not appropriate for the younger ones. He is not the type of kid who likes a lot of things that are athletic. He plays soccer and will go hiking with me but that is about it. So I really wanted to try and find something active and something where we connect as mother and son and learn to work together.


When I was researching fun things to do in the area I saw a lot of zip lines but since he is afraid of heights I could not imagine that experience going well. Since I love to kayak I thought that I would check to see what type of water sports were available and I instantly spotted many different white water rafting opportunities. I was ecstatic at the thought of being able to go whitewater rafting since it is something that I had done before and wanted to do again.


I did my research and learned that the NOC (Nantahla Outdoor Center) trips were some of the highest rated in the area and around the world. Their guides have a rigorous training camp and many additional qualifications which made me comfortable as a mom taking Andrew on his first whitewater rafting trip with him.
I had expected us to have a great time together but there were many things that happened when we were on our trip that I had not expected and I would like to share with you.


We Grew as a Team
Andrew is not my husband’s son so we have faced some challenges and issues with him because he is constantly bounced back and forth between our home and dad’s. Since dad is completely different than we are, it is confusing and hard for him to adjust between visits. Thankfully he does spend the majority of his time with us but that does not make the challenges any less real. When we were on our rafting trip we got to learn a lot of things about team work and had to really pull together to get it done right. I was amazed by how well he listened and how well he did with everything that he was asked to do.


We Laughed, A Lot
I am kind of a serious minded person. I try to be funny sometimes but I tend to have a dry sense of humor. One of the things that I had not expected was for my son and I to connect and laugh on so many levels. He loved the rafting experience and was screaming and yelling as we went through the rapids. It was a great time to be able to laugh and let loose with him.


We Fell in Love with Our Guide
Lara (pronounced like Sara with a “L”) was a great guide. In fact I can not imagine any guide being better for our family or our situation. We had a lot of similar interests, listen to the same type of music, and enjoy the same type of leisure fun. Being able to have Lara as a guide made the rafting experience more comfortable for us and something that we all really enjoyed together.


All in all our NOC whitewater rafting trip was a great time. It was athletic, we burned some major calories, and it allowed me to connect with my son. I have the hardest time connecting with Andrew because of issues that are not his fault. He is around his dad (who I have to work hard not to hold resentment and anger towards) and he then acts like him making it hard for me to not be upset when he does certain things. I am thankful for any opportunity that allows me to be better connected with him while being able to really enjoy our time together.


NOC does offer some whitewater rafting trips that are not as intense as the one that we went on. These are something that the whole family can enjoy. They also do kayak trips for those who have experience kayaking. So if you are going to be in any area that NOC offers whitewater rafting I would highly recommend the experience. If you are going to be in the Pigeon Forge, TN area I would say that this is one of the must have experiences for any family and I would encourage you to ask for Lara if she is available. I promise that you would not be disappointed with her at all.