You’re never too old to create new memories

Message From The Director

For those of you who read last month’s article about ziplining with Grammy, it appears I may have inadvertently created a monster!!  The article was a surprise to her, she had no idea I planned to document the trip, and when I told her my plan to do more with her in parks, she was all in. Although I have been with parks for almost 30 years, I tend to forget that my job and the places and things our park teams protect and share are pretty cool. Sharing these places that are so special to me, helps me appreciate things about the parks that I have at times come to take for granted.

As I looked for an activity to include Grammy in, I turned toward the SC7 groups activity calendar. Every July this incredible group explores the wonders of South Carolina including visits to some of our parks. There were hikes and paddles of various distances I was considering, but decided to half jokingly mention that the group was floating in tubes down the Edisto River, and they were starting at Givhans Ferry State Park, want to go? She immediately said yes! I on the other hand was immediately thinking of how to talk her out of it. Fortunately for me Pop Pop, her less adventurous half, was in the room as well. He, being older, and according to him, wiser than Grammy, chimed in, I want to go too!! So, with no solid argument against it, the decision was made, tubing would become our next adventure, and Pop Pop would be joining us!!

When I say this activity is out of character for these two, I don’t know if I have the ability to explain how out of character it is.  While they took my children tubing in Florida almost 20 years ago, Pop Pop no longer owns a swim suit and I have no memory of him ever wearing shorts.  I don’t know when the last time Grammy got into a body of water that wasn’t chlorinated and let’s not forget her two relatively new knees.  But here they both were, committing to several hours of sitting in a tube floating down a black water river with a son in law who admittedly makes some questionable outdoor activity decisions. So, after several Amazon purchases, (water shoes, sun shirts and suits) they were ready to go and off we headed to Givhans Ferry State Park.

Arriving at a state park that is new to them is always a proud moment for me.  I love sharing theses special places with them, and I am always excited to be able to tell them about all the improvements our park teams have made through the years.  From community building and campground improvements to the Edisto Blackwater Boogie festival and weekend floats, Givhans Ferry is not the park it was even 10 years ago.

Our first stop at the park was the park office to check in. While visiting the park store, Grammy had to by a new rash guard shirt with Givhans Ferry on it because, “if you’re going to do adventures with Grammy than I need to be branded.” Purchases complete, we checked into a cabin for the night, and after burgers on the grill, conversation on the porch and lightning bugs in the woods, we headed to bed excited to get on the river the next day.

The next morning, we joined about 50 people at the office to begin our float.  As we made our way to the water, the staff from Edisto River Adventures, were incredibly helpful getting us tied together and launched into the river.  The two-mile float we embarked on was fraught with no peril and we all easily survived. While not the most exciting sentence I have ever written, it is certainly reflective of one part of the journey.  We relaxed in the tubes, feet dangling, enjoying the sun and current.  On occasion I jumped in or we paddle splashed our way back towards the middle of the river but the float itself was thankfully uneventful.

While uneventful may sound bad, it was so much more than that. For several hours we disconnected from jobs, responsibilities and even from phones, something even Grammy and Pop Pop struggle with. We talked about parks, kids and life experiences.  We shared stories with new friends and heard tales of other rafters’ adventures.  We connected with nature but more importantly we connected with others.

This tubing trip served as a poignant reminder that park experiences are not solely about adrenaline rushes or physical challenges. They provide us with a unique chance to connect, both with ourselves and with others. Even seemingly uneventful days in nature allow us to recharge, reflect, and create lasting memories.

So, I invite everyone to take a day and embark on their own park adventure. Whether it's a river float, a day at the beach, or a hike through the woods, these experiences have the power to bring us closer together and make our lives richer. Come create your own unforgettable memories in the great outdoors!


July 2023