We are rebranding! Why, you ask? Please continue reading.
Thrifty Adventures was born in 2011 in Concord NC. We saw a huge need for rock climbing education. In 2014 we added in our water sport trips and have added new adventures every year after growing to over 21 unique guided adventure experiences. In 2015 we relocated to the NC Mountains to expand our company. Then in 2018 we purchased Hidden Holler Farm and developed an Outpost alongside the Toe River.
So, the name Thrifty was Scott Thrift's brainchild. It was derived from our last name; it was a way to celebrate our first year of marriage and starting a company together! For us to bank on that being obvious to the consumer prior to getting to know us was a mistake. Scott would like me to add here, "being Thrifty is a virtue and doesn't mean cheap or subpar. It means getting the best value for your dollar".
So, to the point we can no longer ignore and hope to market away the negative stigma that the name holds for some. No one wants to think "cheap adventures" associated with risky activities like rock climbing. It has been brought to our attention that the name has caused a few folks to pass us over for bookings. Some of these folks circled back around to us the following season. They decided to book after they read some of the website and saw our many certifications and guide qualifications. They were thoroughly surprised and satisfied with their experiences. On average OVER 50% of our guests have done at least three to four trips with us. I'd say those repeat customers (plus our reviews) speak volumes to the quality of our outdoor experiences and so should our name!
Introducing NC Outdoor Adventures, your premier guiding service offering over 20 guided trips in NC, SC and TN. We offer daily trips during our primary season (May-October) with some winter activities during the off season. We also would like to highlight our discounted rates for our group trips for camps, scouts, youth groups, birthday parties, family/friend reunions, bachelor/bachelorette parties and our Veteran Programs.
New in 2020: more guided plant hikes with food tastings, river ecology snorkel trips, new river trips, winter hikes and 2 Mountaineering Snow School dates. Also, this summer offering FREE community swim days in the Toe River to teach our neighbors how to swim! Another new feature to our outpost in 2020 will be our Yurt Style Outpost for guest check-in and pre-trip shopping and our Root Cellar Tiny House available for lodging options.
First what is a guide service? Wikipedia doesn’t even have a definition stating “The page "Guide service" does not exist. Digging deeper into the web abyss I find this from an Oregan based legal glossary: "Outfitting and guiding services" include, but are not limited to, leading, protecting, instructing, training, cooking, packing, guiding, transporting, supervising, interpreting or otherwise assisting any person in the conduct of outdoor recreational activities”(https://www.oregonlaws.org/glossary/definition/outfitting_and_guiding_services). Guide services typically do just that for a majority of outdoor recreational activities including whitewater rafting, rock climbing, canyoneering, highlining, mountaineering,ice climbing, mountain biking, hiking, and let's not forget wilderderness therapy.
Just a few of the 21 outdoor recreation opportunities NC Outdoor Adventures offers.
The popularity of Guide Services in the USA has grown exponentially over the last decade! In NC alone 56% of residents participate in some form of outdoor recreation annually. In 2018 the Outdoor Recreation Industry in NC had $28 billion in consumer spending leading to the creation of 260,000 jobs, $8.3 billion in wages, creating $1.3 billion in tax revenue (Growing Outdoors Project, Mountain BizWorks). This surge in Outdoor Recreation created a demand for more Guides , and challenged land management groups such as the National Forestry Service to rethink current regulation strategies including revamping the permitting processes for many places you visit . These regulations though are frequently not enough to stop pirate guiding, or guides running businesses under the radar. Ultimately it is up to you as the consumer to check out the legitimacy of a guide company before going out on a trip with them. You may easily do this by just asking about the permits they have acquired and where they have permission to operate.
Why should you care if a guide is certified or carries permits in the areas they guide? First the above activities are all considered “high risk” activities (hence why the definition above popped up first on a legal glossary). Meaning the activities above have inherent dangers that are mitigated by your guides ability and qualifications to safely navigate him or herself and their guests through varied terrain and activities. Varied terrain examples: flat water v/s whitewater, rock v/s ice climbing, backpacking v/s mountaineering. The riskier the activity the more important it should be for the consumer to make certain who they hire is qualified, it also speaks to the increase in cost for the consumer. Here is how to make sure the company you choose has reputable/qualified guides.
1: Ask for your guides certification info: The video included with this blog is an example of one of our river guides, Christy Thrift’s swift water rescue course through Rescue NC LLC this past October.
ALL GUIDES SHOULD HOLD THESE MINIMUM CERTIFICATIONS: CPR/ADULT/ CHILD /AED/ and BASIC FIRST AID. Your guides be it a river guide or rock-climbing guide should hold certifications in the areas they guide.
Rock Climbing Guides in the USA for example have several certifying bodies: the Professional Climbing Guides Institute (PCGI), American Mountain Guide Association (AMGA/IFMGA) and the Professional Climbing Instructors Association (PCIA). There are several certifications for different types of guided rock like Top Rope, Single Pitch and Multi-Pitch. Professional Guides do continuing education to keep certifications current and most seek out advanced education in first aid and rescue.
Guides who work on the river should also have certifications including Swift Water Rescue Training. The main certifying body is the American Canoe Association or the ACA. Note: there is a big difference between a life-guard cert v/s a swift-water cert. Life Guards jobs usually encompass open non-moving bodies of water like lakes or pools. These areas have few natural hazards like those present in moving water situations including changing water levels, rocks, undercuts, strainers, foot entrapments and of course currents. Rivers are constantly changing due to things like flooding and downed trees. A GOOD RIVER COMPANY IS CONSTANTLY RUNNING THE RIVER THEY GUIDE, CHECKING FOR AND RESOLVING ANY HAZARDS THEY ENCOUNTER. Most guide companies partner with organizations such as the park service, Carolina Climbers Coalition, Access Fund, French Broad Riverkeeper and Catawba Riverkeeper to accomplish safe, environmentally friendly environments for those who recreate there.
Remember the guide’s certification information can be looked up via the organization where the guide did his training. Most Guide Service websites have this information. Here is NC Outdoor Adventure’s, Meet the Guides Page: https://www.ncoutdooradventures.org/about/guides
2: Check for proof of business Insurance: Note guides that do not carry insurance are not legally able to guide on federal land as having business insurance and proof of certifications are a main criterion to apply for Federal permits; State Parks are more lenient. For example a business without insurance or proof of guide certifications can likely get a permit to guide in a State Park like Crowders Mountain State Park whereas the same company would not make it to step one applying for a permit to guide in say Pisgah National Forest.
3: Read Reviews: Just remember reviews can be skewed by fake positive or negative reviews.
4: Community Service: This is an extra but I feel like this is a Guide Service’s obligation to give back to the areas we frequent. Most companies volunteer their time and guides to help with things like trail work, river and crag clean ups, graffiti and trash removal as well as hosting educational events. Guide services often times support local nonprofits like the Carolina Climbers Coalition (CCC) or American Alpine Club and Access Fund. Lots of guides volunteer with local Search and Rescue Organizations. NC Outdoor Adventures raises the bar by giving 5% of our total climbing revenue annually to the CCC! See that info under, Why Choose Us: https://www.ncoutdooradventures.org/about. The outdoor recreation community in general does a great job monitoring, reporting and taking care of issues that could be hazardous as well as maintaining our wilderness areas and teaching LNT to anyone who will listen.
Commonly asked Questions:
How much does a guide cost?
Well, it depends on what you are hiring them for. For example, guided rock climbing is much pricier than say a rafting trip, rock climbing will be cheaper than say Ice Climbing or Mountaineering trip. Here are the main factors contributing to cost: gear, education, certification, permits, Insurance and transportation. If the company you choose is substantially cheaper than the competition in the area, there is a reason. Higher prices typically tend to mean higher quality guides/experiences.
Do we tip our guide?
It is customary to tip your guide if you had a pleasurable experience. Although they are paid a wage to guide their income is heavily dependent on tips as well (especially your river/raft/ducky guides). A guide’s job (we will get into that in the next blog) is to keep you safe, teach and entertain! A common saying in the whitewater world, “if you enjoyed your ride tip your guide”. Customary tipping is considered 20% of your pre-tax cost.
I was climbing Ellie Memorial Buttress on the East face of Table Rock North Carolina, a neglected 5.10 mixed line that is currently being overtaken by lichen. It had rained earlier that morning and each piece of lichen I stepped on felt like a slimy snot booger under my climbing shoe. I had gotten through all the 5.10 moves, and was now making my way up through what seemed to be nearly unprotectable 5.7 slab moves. The lichen was getting thicker and my anxiety was increasing. I looked down to see my last piece of good pro 20ish feet below me.
I began scanning the rock for gear placements but could only find super shallow flared cracks and a few small horizontals. I placed two Metolius double-zero TCU’s in a thin crack, then linked them together with a sling, forming a magic-x I clipped my rope in. I now had something that I could surely sit on, but I still felt anxious about these two pieces catching a lead fall.