2nd Annual Green River Race Staff Event

The “FCC Staff Huddle” Newsletter

Nov/Dec 2023

This article was written by Andy Killebrew as part of the Nov/Dec 2023 Staff Huddle newsletter.

We’ll send out a new edition of The Huddle every couple of months to keep you informed on the latest staff news at Falling Creek Camp. Email jeff@fallingcreek.com if you’re not already recieving the full newsletter in your inbox!

We’re so grateful for the part you play in our mission, and we look forward to serving along side you this coming summer. Behold!

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By: Andy Killebrew

When our Staffing Team sat down to discuss our aspirations for the autumn, one of our goals was to create an occasion for recent counselor alumni to visit Falling Creek. We do our best to visit our people on their college campuses or in their hometowns, but we’re typically only seeing a couple of people a visit (unless we’re at Sewanee, then it’s like a family reunion with the cousins and all).

After some deliberation, we decided to send out invitations to join us in the mountains for the Green River Race. It’s a singularly epic event on the calendar of outdoorsy folks in our neck of the woods. From the race’s own website, “The Green River Narrows Race is the largest extreme kayak race in the world. This iconic kayak race has drawn spectators and racers from around the world, humbled Olympic medalists, and been featured on major networks such as CNN. From innovating new boat designs to bringing together one of the largest kayaking events - this is the super bowl of kayaking.”

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“being able to see my two best friends from camp, as well as the rest of the Falling Creek community, was so enjoyable." - Etta Pierce (‘23-‘24 staff)

Falling Creek has the privilege of being located just a few miles from the Narrows (the Green River actually passes through our property), so we asked our attendees to arrive the night before for a pizza party prior to attending the race in the morning.

Etta Pierce (‘23-‘24 staff) said that “being able to see my two best friends from camp, as well as the rest of the Falling Creek community, was so enjoyable. On Friday, we were all able to catch up by the fire, update each other on the past 3 months that we’ve spent apart, play a very competitive game of Mario Kart, and share our excitement about returning to FCC in May.”

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There were FCC Alumni racing and cheering!

In the morning, following a precipitous hike into the Narrows (there are nearly vertical stretches of the trail that require the assistance of ropes and roots) we got to watch the best kayakers in the world do their thing. The Narrows are notoriously treacherous – the passage features multiple Class V rapids, which is the most difficult rating for a rapid. The hairpin turns through rock faces, massive waterfalls, and potential to get “pinned,” or trapped underneath your boat, mean that the Green Race is not for the faint of heart.

Falling Creek was fortunate enough to count a couple of the racers as our alumni. Among those alumni competing were Charles Brooks (‘13-‘17 camper, ‘22 staff) and JR Wallace (‘12,‘15-‘20 camper, ‘22-’23 staff), proving that camp’s paddling program is robust enough to measure up with the best in the game.

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Regarding the race, JR Wallace told me that “completing the race was a goal of mine for a few years. Seeing the FCC family at Gorilla (the largest rapid on the course) after the race was awesome. Boofing Gorilla (going over a large rapid in a kayak, for the uninitiated) is a feeling that is hard to recreate, especially in front of a massive crowd. I haven’t had a fan club since high school lacrosse, so this brought back a warm feeling.”

From our vantage point, we watched JR’s kayak rotate and head flip out of the water just as he styled over the top of Gorilla. We were looking down into one of the course’s “whirlpools,” a section of river where the currents of water create aquatic black holes that the kayakers could get stuck in. It was the perfect vantage point for witnessing the incredible skill it takes to run this demanding river.

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No stranger to running the race himself, former Trip Leader for Paddling, Max Feild (‘09-’17 camper, ‘21-’23 staff) remarked that “it was thrilling to be a part of, but spectating this year with all my camp family was even better. Taking your friends into a place that so few get to see and showing them a taste of what kayaking at camp can lead to is such an awesome experience.”

All in all, it was a marvelous weekend for our camp community to share in communion and outdoor adventure. Like Max mentioned, it was a lovely early-November reminder of camp’s power to unite and delight. Etta even commented that the “event became a new tradition for me and my two best friends from camp, and emphasized the excitement of being back in May!”

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