Rolling Thunder River Company

We go to McCaysville to meet a group a people who claim their jobs are “better than your vacation.” They’re river guides at Rolling Thunder River Company, a white water rafting company where the employees, surprisingly, still use math to do those jobs. They also use a host of certifications to ensure customer safety. Oh, and being an Eagle Scout doesn’t hurt either.

Acoustic Doppler

Acoustic Doppler

Do you want even more accuracy in your CFS reading? If so, an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler might be what you need. Here’s why.

CFS

CFS

If you’re going rolling on the river, you’ll want to know how fast it’s rolling. CFS is the key to figuring that out.

Current Meter

Current Meter

Once you know what CFS is, we’ll explain how a Current Meter works so you can measure it yourself.

Hydraulics

Hydraulics

We not only offer the formal definition of hydraulics, we also describe what they mean to our river guides.

Northeast Georgia Mountains

Special Thanks To

Bobbye Miller, William Scoggins, Matthew Arrowsmith, Laura Hughes, Huey Lamb

ROLLING THUNDER RIVER COMPANY

MATTHEW

Row, row, row your boat

WILL

Row, row, row your boat

HUEY

Row, row, row your boat

LAURA

Down a raging, bone-crushing, life-threatening, class 5 stream.

HUEY

Merrily, merrily, merrily

WILL

Merrily, merrily, merrily

MATTHEW

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily

LAURA

Life is but a dream.

VO

Today Fast Forward is living on the edge. Or at least the edge of the state. We're visiting McCaysville on Georgia's north border.

I wonder what they have there.

Oh. Right.

We're visiting Rolling Thunder River Company. So let's start with how the folks up here feel about their work.

WILL

It's the greatest job in the world.

HUEY

My job is a job where I get to go out and have fun every day, in nature, all day.

LAURA

I love getting to go out there and have fun.

HUEY

I work on a white water river. I get to get wet for my job.

MATTHEW

Our job is better than your vacation.

VO

I don't know. I've taken some nice vacations.

Anyhow, Rolling Thunder River Company is a rafting company that takes people down the Toccoa and other nearby rivers in the most fun way possible.

LAURA

We have several options as far as white water's concerned. We have trips that last for 3 hours, trips that last for 5 hours.

VO

Anything else?

HUEY

We do have our Toccoa tubing trips. Great way to waste an hour and a half. I mean, beautiful scenery. You're on the water. It's very enjoyable.

VO

Of course you have to be careful with any kind of fun on the water. And the folks at Rolling Thunder are ready.

WILL

It can be very dangerous but we do take a lot of precautions.

WILL SOT:

Everybody needs a helmet. They won't let you on the river without it.

WILL

Safety's always first.

VO

And if safety's first, then the second thing we'd better do is learn something about that water. That means the study of hydraulics-a field of physical science that deals with the forces and properties of liquids, usually water, as they move through channels or pipes. But the river guides here have less formal definitions.

HUEY

Basically a hydraulic is anytime water folds back on itself.

WILL

Well hydraulic is essentially where the water pours into a dip on the riverbed and it will suck things back into it. You know a person or anything. Other hydraulics you know aren't as powerful, and they can be a lot of fun. It's just like you can ride it like surfing a wave in the ocean, except it never breaks.

VO

Now to put that knowledge to use, and get a raft full of rookies down the river, you next need to understand how much water is flowing. That's measured in CFS. Huey?

HUEY

CFS is cubic feet per second. All water is gauged on cubic feet per second.

VO

And how big is a cubic foot?

HUEY

A cubic foot is about the size of a basketball.

VO

So if you had 1200 basketballs passing a single point each second, that would be about twelve hundred CFS.

VO

And the device that measures that water is called a Current Meter. It has cups that spin when placed in a river. The faster they spin, the greater the water's velocity. And by knowing the depth and width of the river, along with the velocity of the water, you can calculate the CFS. Of course you have to do this at several places across the river to get an accurate reading.

And for an even more accurate reading, you can use something called an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler. This device bounces sound waves off the water. The faster the water is moving, the more the sound wave reflection is shifted by the water flow.

Pretty important stuff to know when you're the captain.

HUEY

I like to use aquatic engineer. It makes me sound more professional.

VO

Excuse me! Aquatic engineer.

So tell me more about being one of those.

WILL

There is a very stereotypical raft guide.

VO

Go on!

WILL

Well you got the beard and the long hair you know, outdoorsy kind of people, people that you might see skiing or mountain biking, you know kayakers, all kind of belong to the same community.

LAURA

The company and the industry attracts laid back people. We just love to get out, be active, do things on the water and have a good time while we're getting paid for it.

VO

And it can even affect where you live.

MATTHEW

We have a cabin which houses 8 raft guides in there, pretty much like a small hotel. Great neighbors.

VO

Is there anything else you folks have in common?

WILL

Well we also have a lot of the same certifications. You know, wilderness first responder certifications like that that automatically qualifies us for a wide range of outdoor jobs. So that kind of brings us all together.

MATTHEW

We are trained to handle any kind of obstacle.

WILL

CPR's just one of those kind of things everybody should know, but it's required for this job. Also swift water rescue, learning about the dangers that are underneath the water.

HUEY

The other thing is knowing about wildlife. What snakes can be potentially poisonous, what spiders can be potentially poisonous.

VO

Okay. A lot of that sounds like the stuff you learn in high school.

MATTHEW

Some of us bring high school diplomas. Some of us actually have bachelor degrees. Some of us actually have other degrees higher than that.

VO

So how'd you get these jobs?

WILL

Well what really helped me a lot was being in the scouts, being an Eagle Scout.

VO

Funny, I didn't take you for an eagle scout.

Anything else?

MATTHEW

Basically the classes that really help us out are science classes, your math classes.

VO

Math? Out here? You're kidding, right?

LAURA

I can't believe I'm saying this, but math helps you in jobs like mine. In high school of course I hated it and I said where am I ever going to need to know this kind of math, and then I get to this job and I'm realizing that I'm constantly dealing with a number.

VO

Okay, if you've got a math class giving you trouble, you might consider the passion these folks have for what they do.

HUEY

I'm pretty sure I'd go crazy if I was cooped up in an office all day. Being outside, being in the outdoors is what really, really makes me happy.

LAURA

Not a lot of people wake up every morning and want to go to work. I love to get up and come here. I love the employees that work here. I love the crew. I love dealing with the people. I just love every aspect of being here.

WILL

I don't ever see myself doing anything else. Even if I do find another job or something else, another venture in life, I think I'll always come back to this. I'll always be a river guide.

VO

And we'll always be happy to take a ride in your boat! As good as you folks are at finding amazing jobs, maybe we can work together. And we'll see everyone else on our next episode of Fast Forward.

This content was developed under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. However, this content does not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.