HELPING – it’s not all fun and games

I know some of you may think I am just on an extended holiday, relaxing and enjoying, having fun and exploring. While I may be doing some of those things, mostly I am working. Hard. And for long hours.

Looking down the street after the thunder storm.

Here at the rafting company my work day usually starts around 10 or 11, although on occasion I have had to start as early as 7 (yuck!). The days are filled with various tasks, from physically challenging to mind numbingly boring. It’s work, plain and simple.

A typical day goes like this: I usually prep the snacks and lunch for the different rafting trips of the day. This isn’t too difficult, it’s just a matter of putting the right number of items in the right bins, and hauling all this down the street a couple of houses to the busses. Then depending on the day and number of trips, I might go on one of the rafting trips. I help distribute the gear to the customers at the house and get them situated on the bus. Once at the site, I help haul all the gear down to the shore, pump up the boat, get everyone on the boat and help push out into the river.

Looking back at the Sulphur Gates.

A water fight on the Smokey River

Looking back at the other boat.

Once we are in the river, I am just like any other passenger – enjoying the ride.

Me, looking incredibly dorky.

The mighty Smokey River

On shore at the end of the Best of Both trip.

After the trip is finished, I help haul the boat and gear back up the hill and load it onto the bus. I also hand out and pack up the snack. Once we are back at the house, I help facilitate the returning of the gear and then I either wash the gear and the locker rooms or clean up the snack, lunch items, and kitchen. Then I am done. It is usually around 6 or 7 by this time.

On the days that I don’t go on one of the trips, I either work in the office answering phone calls and booking trips, or up at the tourism center painting busses. There are also the odd jobs, like mowing the lawn, washing the bus, childcare, and of course performing on the pirate trip.

We've found the treasure - matey!

Oh, the pirate trip. Over two hours of pirate shenanigans AND I have to fall into the icy cold river. Oh my. It is a fun trip, but I am kind of hoping not to have to do another, especially now that the weather has turned colder. The last trip was with a very nice family with two little girls. They were very enthusiastic and didn’t think my “Oh my gosh!” comment was very piratey. Instead I had to say “Oh Barnacles!”  and throw in a few more “Aaarrrgghhh’s” as well. My pirate name for that trip was Screamin Pete McGee. This name was somewhat strategic. I knew that when I hit that ice cold water a shriek or two were going to escape my clenched jaw. I was simply making it part of the story with my chosen name. It worked exceptionally well – if I do say so myself.

Aarrrgghhh!! Me eye patch seems a wee bit runny.

Although the booked trips are becoming fewer and farther between as we head quickly towards fall, it seems busier than ever here. This is due mainly to the fact that most of the staff have gone back to college or whatever else they do the rest of the year.

This is seasonal work and the season is coming to an end. But I find that as it winds down, I am left with more and more work. Good thing I’m only staying for two weeks – I think it will be plenty.

The beginning of the sunset and the moon.

I’ve done a little math in order to figure out just how much my help is worth here. I calculated almost $400 in rafting trips so far, an awesome game of paintball for $40,plus $75 a week for food, plus maybe $20 a day for the room (if I was at a hostel) – so that’s $870 that I didn’t pay, I just helped. Not too shabby.

Would you do this sort of thing given the opportunity? How much are you willing to give and what would you expect in return?

Thanks for reading!

– Rene

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