There was a little splashing, but all in all everyone was dry when they and their kayaks were pulled out of the Broad River just outside Lockhart.
Union County High School junior Patrick Greer was the only one who had the pleasure of finding out how warm or cold the water of the mighty Broad was on Tuesday afternoon when the kayak he was in flipped as he was waiting to get out.
It didn’t bother him, though, and despite a few tired arms and a little chill everyone else in the party enjoyed the experience, too. They also had the opportunity to learn about teamwork in a real life situation.
The trip — guided by Carolinas Outdoors Expeditions — was designed as a team-building exercise for participants of the Leadership Union programs. The Youth Leadership kids had the pleasure of being the first to launch on Tuesday and the adults shoved off for the same 11-mile trip down the two rivers today (Wednesday, May 12).
“We had a blast,” said Youth Leadership coordinator Heather Patterson. “Only one went in and it was right at the end.”
“It was cold, but it felt good after a while,” Greer said as he stood on shore drying off.
A few others felt the burn of the trip in their arms, but enjoyed the experience.
“My arms were hurting, but it was all right,” said sophomore Andrea Eison.
Even those who had never been in a kayak before enjoyed the trip.
“It was pretty fun,” said sophomore Tommy McKelvey. “My arms are hurting, but I enjoyed it. I got water all over me, but wasn’t cold at all.”
The trip is designed to get those along to work together and keep each other safe, out of the trees and from tipping over while on the river, according to Patterson and Union County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Torance Inman.
The chamber is a sponsor of the Leadership Union programs.
The event also brings those who participate from year to year in contact with the beauty and nature of Union County with which many may not be familiar.
“A lot of them don’t know this is here,” Inman said.
The exercise has been part of the leadership programs since their inception and coordinators have tried to do it annually. They previously have gone down the Tyger River, tying in places such as Rose Hill and other historic sites, while on the trip but drought in recent years has hindered the event.
This year coordinators decided to try a different route to get leadership program participants familiar with other areas of the county.
Everything went off without any problems on day one with the students and Patterson and Inman agreed it was a good experience for them.
Plus, they had a good time, too.
“It’s been great,” Patterson said.
The trip also was a learning experience for Carolinas Outdoors Expeditions as the nearly 20 people who participated — including guides — made up the kayak/canoe rental and guided tour business’ first large group of the fledgling summer season.
“It just now really turned season as of May 1,” said company owner Bryan Brown.
He and his guides have had smaller groups of up to four people but Tuesday’s group was the first of more than 10 for them. The company is prepared — as of now — for groups of up to 25 and hopes to expand that as it grows.
“I think it went fine,” Brown said about the first big group tour of the season. “These kids took right to it.”
He added Union County’s rivers and waterways provide great places to kayak or canoe if people are looking for leisurely trips and not white water adventures. The rivers, lakes and other waterways of the county are great for any age, whether a person has been in a boat before or not.
Like the Leadership Union program’s effort to show its participants the hidden beauty of Union County’s natural resources, Brown’s company aims to do the same for all of its customers and was glad to help the leadership groups experience it firsthand.
Brown wants people to come and enjoy the waterways of the county while taking in all of nature’s beauty.
“It’s a little eco-friendly tourism,” he said.