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From Anxious to Exhilarated: Carsen’s Journey Rafting the Payette with Outdoor Programs

Carson smiling while rafting

Trying something new can be a daunting task – take it from Boise State Senior, Carsen Cloud. While he’s always been curious about participating in an Outdoor Programs trip, he’s had a few reservations. Read all about Carsen’s experience white water rafting on the Payette with Outdoor Programs and why you should be sure to do this!

I remember walking through the REC last year with a friend and passing by a poster for whitewater rafting trips with Outdoor Programs and saying, “That looks fun. We should do that sometime.” But, as all half-baked plans go, we never ended up going. So when I had the opportunity to go on one in September, I jumped at the chance. Spoiler alert: it will easily be the highlight of my semester!

Group of students smiling in a raft

Breaking the Ice

I am generally an anxious person, so I was admittedly a little nervous. What would the other people be like? Would I feel safe? Fear of the unknown and doubts continued to stir in my mind in the days leading up to the trip. But when the day finally arrived, I immediately felt welcome. Any remaining qualms were quickly put to rest as one of the employees guided the group outside to begin an icebreaker activity. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip; it helped ease my nervousness and get to know those around me. After the icebreaker, we all prepared for the trip up to Banks. All I could think about at that point was how much fun it was going to be.

The winding road to Banks is beautiful and we all enjoyed the ride to the river. When we arrived, we began unloading the rafts from the trailer, airing them up, and suited ourselves up . After loading the raft with everything that we would need for the trip, we got our safety instructions. When we had the raft in the water, we got the lay of the land and were clearly instructed how to paddle in sync, how to paddle correctly, and when to paddle. Our guide, Emma, was fun and made us all feel confident and comfortable. We were ready for our adventure on the water.

Group of students in raft paddling down the river

Hitting the Water

The section of river we rafted was after where the North Fork and the South Fork of the Payette collided and formed the Main Payette River, which she explained was the “family-friendly” portion of the Payette as the sections before did have more intimidating rapids. The first rapid, Whitewater 101, was tame but still exhilarating. With each rapid I gained more confidence and some of us even jumped out of the raft to take a quick dip and cool off! One of my favorite rapids was called Mike’s Hole. This was also the last rapid before lunch. As we approached the rapid on flat water, you could hear the river roaring. Emma informed us that it was important to paddle through so we didn’t get stuck. This added to the sense of excitement and going through the rapid was a blast! After the rapid, the calm water was relieving and we had the satisfaction of just completing something challenging.

After Mike’s Hole, we stopped for lunch at a takeout along the river and I had a chance to socialize with people who were on the other rafts that I hadn’t had a chance to meet yet. It was fun to connect with everyone and recap the day so far. When we embarked on the rafts once again with full bellies, we were ready to conquer the final two rapids. The first one, Mixmaster, was our guide Emma’s favorite, so I couldn’t wait to try it. The final rapids of the trip were exhilarating, and I couldn’t help but notice how different I felt compared to just a few hours before. Comfortable, confident, and having a blast, it was time to head back. Once we got back to campus, I took a big refreshing nap after our adventure-filled day on the river.

This opportunity was so much fun, not to mention a great way to meet people and work as a team. Pro tip: remember to bring sunscreen! And my number one takeaway: I wish that I had gone on more trips with Outdoor Programs in my time at Boise State. Take advantage of these trips while you can!

Group of students in raft posing for picture while one student swims

A Few Things I Learned About Outdoor Programs:

  • They are dedicated to equity: From the start, I could tell that the REC Center was dedicated to inclusivity. Through accessibility forms that we filled out, they were able to get us the right gear and accommodations so that anyone could participate. One participant on our trip even had an ASL interpreter on board. Outdoor Programs are designed to accommodate all participants regardless of ability, background, or experiences.
  • All equipment is provided and clear instructions provided by your guide make staying safe on the river easy.
  • You’ll make connections: Even though I was a little nervous at the beginning, we were led through icebreaker activities that put everyone at ease before our adventure!
  • There are so many Outdoor Program activities to choose from: Even if white water rafting isn’t for you, there are so many unique trips offered by Outdoor Programs, from backpacking and camping to stand-up paddle boarding!

Still Want More?

Check out our blog post 5 ½ Things About Outdoor Programs!