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The Boathouse Blog

Joy in the Time of COVID

Why a river rafting trip became the perfect vacation for 2020

It is no secret that 2020 was a hard year. Because of the pandemic, our lives were dramatically altered. Almost every part of  life, from going to the grocery store to seeing loved ones, became a stressful event. Over time, the constant routine of waking up to a depressing news cycle, and going to bed not knowing what else would go wrong the next day became exhausting. It is safe to say that we all got to a breaking point this year, and craved an escape from the chaos of the world around us. Despite the challenges we faced this year, we were lucky enough to continue providing river trips, and they became the perfect escape that many folks needed in the era of COVID. 

With overseas travel nearly impossible, outdoor vacations close to home were popular this year. River rafting trips ended up being the perfect solution for adventurous people looking for an outdoor domestic vacation. The remote canyons, warm weather, and gorgeous beaches provide a change of scenery that makes you forget that you are in the reaches of the Pacific Northwest. Plus, the lively rapids and magnificent wildlife satisfies the cravings of adventure-seekers looking for excitement. Although COVID demanded a change of travel plans, many families found a silver lining by discovering the joys of the river in their own backyard. 

One of the greatest gifts that the river bestowed this year was the ability to completely disconnect from technology. With work and school going online, the amount of time we spent in front of screens increased dramatically. Thankfully, there is no cell service on the river. The sounds of notification bells are replaced by running water. Screens are replaced by tremendous canyon walls, and text messages are replaced by quality time with loved ones. The river provides a feeling of simplicity and ease that you cannot get elsewhere. When you wake up on the river you won’t be bombarded by emails and news headlines, instead you will be delighted watching the sun rise over the canyon walls, sipping fresh coffee, and listening to the sounds of water passing by. These simple moments were especially important this year to help us rest, recharge, and reconnect with the world around us. 

Relative to the rest of the world, the river provided a safe environment where our guests could let their guard down. River canyons supply a natural breeze that ensures we are always breathing fresh air, and being in the outdoors is undoubtedly good for our wellbeing. However, we still modified many of our protocols to keep our guests and guides healthy. In order to reduce the risk of virus transmission we kept trips smaller, on average around 12-15 people. We also changed some of our food safety protocols, requiring guides to wear masks and gloves while preparing food. We provided the option for separate parties to remain 6ft apart by spacing out during meal times and remaining on different boats. We even rearranged the spacing on our boats so that the guides were 6ft apart from our guests while rowing. 

Some of the changes we made actually ended up being popular among the guests and our crew. To decrease the number of high-touch surfaces, our guides plated food for the guests rather than everyone serving themselves. This change made meal times feel more like a fine-dining restaurant than a potluck. Another popular improvement was color-coded bags, which made it easier for guests to find their belongings. With a little bit of innovation and out-of-the box thinking we managed to have a COVID-free river season while still providing a fun and relaxing experience on the river. 

We were honored to bring some joy and relaxation to our guests in a year where it was hard to find either. We are so thankful for the support of our amazing guests. Because of them, we were able to remain open and provide the rest and rejuvenation that we all needed this year. We are looking forward to what 2021 will bring. COVID or not, we will still be here, ready to make some more memories on the river with you all.