When a UCLA student named George Wendt rafted the Grand Canyon on a makeshift raft for the first time back in 1962, a singular passion for rivers became born. In 1969, that ardor led Wendt and his wife Pam to determined OARS, and their sons Tyler and Clavey literally grew up with their dad and mom’s fledgling rafting employer. Now 50 years later, the scrappy, family-owned, and operated rafting outfit that they built is one of the most respected adventure journey clothing stores within the world. Wendt turned into a gentle large in the area and was honored as the first solely oar-powered rafting clothing store legal to run trips in Grand Canyon. But he also became a visionary entrepreneur and considered one of the adventure tour industry’s trailblazers, a truly inspiring speaker, and human being. When he passed some years ago, his sons took the helm of OARS. I lately had a hazard to speak together with his son Tyler.
Everett Potter: I was a large fan of your father, who based OARS 1/2 a century in the past. I met and interviewed him in numerous instances, and he becomes an outstanding, frequently profound, and regularly very funny guy. What mark has George left on OARS?
Tyler Wendt: It’s been almost 3 years because Dad exceeded. We’ve been especially lucky in that time to have retained nearly all of our key complete-time group of workers and many lengthy-time publications, all of whom are committed to furthering his legacy of river conservation and sharing a love for wild rivers and places. These are those who knew him well, and in many cases, he thought of him as a father determine. I suppose all of us experience a sense of pride in knowing he turned into a real pioneer in the field of adventure journey and that his spirit lives on inside us. He had an infectious enthusiasm for the work we do at OARS and became inspiring in a unique, incredibly “off-beat” sort of manner. He might also have been a touch socially awkward, which really made him very endearing to those who knew him or started working with him. And he turned into a definite type and worrying individual, which surely informs the way we contend with our visitors.
Potter: Now that OARS is half a century old, are you catering to skilled river rafters, or do you still get your percentage of first-timers?
Wendt: Definitely masses of first-timers. In a median yr, I’d say at least 60% of our vacationers are first-time rafters.
Potter: OARS started as a rafting organization, however now you provide so much greater, consisting of hiking, kayaking, fishing, or even beer trips? Can you tell us a piece approximately these trips?
Wendt: We’ve stepped into a pleasant niche with our Grand Canyon hiking applications, which are lodge-primarily based and allow us to leverage our understanding into assembly the desires of adventurers who need to experience Grand Canyon with a manual but don’t want to run a river or camp out. The identical is going for a number of our maximum a hit global packages in Peru and Patagonia that feature hotel-to-hotel hiking, with beds and showers available at the give up of a day of active exploration.
For flat-water paddling, our particular services in Grand Teton National Park and Baja, Mexico, constitute a unique form of expeditionary camping ride, simplest without the whitewater exhilaration. There’s a simple thrill in quietly paddling up to a natural world viewing possibility or hanging out through the campfire whilst sundown fades to darkness. So simply, there are a few commonplace topics in the varieties of journeys we want to offer. Every year, we have a few specialty departures that spotlight fishing opportunities, like the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in September. Or wine & beer-tasting trips that characteristic a sponsoring winery or brewery. But in the end, it’s the spontaneous interplay with the sort of world-elegance recreational sources that make the trip.
Potter: With this kind of other journeys, is rafting nonetheless in the middle of what you do?
Wendt: Yes, for certain, river jogging is still the very middle of what we do. Our ardor is primarily based on this inspiring belief that river journeys have a true expeditionary reality to them – they’re about shared enjoyment and shared exploration. Certainly on a -week trip through Grand Canyon, but even for our one-day journeys in California, we’re embarking on an actual day trip, with actual threat all around us. And but with cautious making plans and skilled leadership, we can feel confident in our and our visitors’ abilities to courageous the factors and embrace the true journey.
Potter: Can you speak about the attraction of custom trips, in which a prolonged own family or a set of buddies get together to raft? How massive a group does you need to make it feel powerful and is there a ballpark charge per character be for one of these trips?
Wendt: We have visible some very a success multi-generational journeys, in which I believe a quite profound set of connections occurring within the layers of a regular circle of relatives dynamics. Undoubtedly, a huge part of the magic is primarily based on the dearth of connectivity with the outside global. As ways as placing a custom experience collectively, at some point of the height summertime, we are limited within the range of trips we can place on the water due to permit restrictions and overall capability. So, to get the maximum appealing pricing, a collection organizer searching out the great quotes could work the shoulder seasons in May and early June and overdue-August into September. Groups of 12 – sixteen or extra are perfect for spreading out the fixed costs for transportation, meals, and a group of publications. Let’s say $250 per character in line with day for an all-inclusive excursion would be within the ballpark for many of our locations.