The Confluence

The footbridge at the Nantahala Outdoor Center in NC (also part of the Appalachian Trail. Note the blaze on the right.)
The footbridge at the Nantahala Outdoor Center in NC (also part of the Appalachian Trail. Note the blaze on the right.)

In June 2016, Drake and I were standing in the middle of the footbridge that crosses the Nantahala River in Western North Carolina on NOC’s campus (where Drake worked for over ten years, back in the day). We were reveling in the joy of a day well spent. Our daughter, Laurel, had chosen an adventure with friends instead of a birthday party, so we had just taken four joyful, screaming eight year-old girls on a river trip (in Harry Potter glasses, no less). They were playing at the waters edge by the take out and we were enjoying the birds-eye view from the bridge.

A few minutes later a large group arrived at the take out looking pretty familiar. They were a mixture of current students and alumni from a therapeutic boarding school we had worked at a few years back where we started their weekend adventure program. Their adventures have since grown to include awesome alumni experiences like the one we were witnessing from the bridge. And then we got another blast from the past, when a former student who is now in college walked up in his employee shirt and took some time to catch up. He is in college now (hard to believe!) and wanted to tell us that he works there in the summers because of the trips he took with us years ago that introduced him to rafting and the combined peace and thrills of southern whitewater.

Personally, we had been struggling to find our next professional chapter. Neither of us were in jobs that were a right fit. And then, standing on that bridge, it suddenly all made sense…not crystal clear obvious sense…but sense, nonetheless. Sometimes your calling creeps up on you, because it has been standing right behind you quietly waiting for you to notice. In the scope of a few minutes we knew we were headed back towards working with kids and their families in outdoor and creative adventures. The seeds were sewn for what is now Upstate FORT (Family Oriented Recreation and Therapy). We are discovering as we go, but excited to be on this journey. We know from experience that when we play, learn, and grow together good things are bound to happen.

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