Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Let There Be Light: The Solar Panel Ribbon Cutting

Matt Knott cutting the ribbon!
  It's no secret that here at River Riders, we support the "green" lifestyle. By regulating materials that may be used on river trips and hosting annual high way and river clean-ups, River Riders has demonstrated their commitment to keeping our environment clean.

  River Riders just recently became the proud owners of the Quality Hotel (soon to be Clarion) and  renovated the inn to expand its amenities, conference, food service and activity offerings. To no surprise also used this opportunity to move forward in our "green" efforts by installing over 250 solar panels on the roof! 

  The hotel is now home to the third largest solar array in the state! The energy system was designed and installed by Mountain View Solar of Berkeley Springs. 
  The rooftop array consists of 289 SolarWorld 285W modules. The 82.4kW system will produce enough energy to offset an estimated $10,000+ annually in electricity costs. An electric vehicle charger is also being installed at the parking lot, which will allow guests to recharge their electric/hybrid cars during their stay.
  To celebrate,  River Riders hosted a ribbon cutting today located at the cliff side hotel at 11:00 a.m. this morning. Light refreshments were served to the abundance of attendees. Our original attendance number of 20 - 30 people was blown out of the water as people continued to make their way in the hotel.

With support from the community as well as The Chamber of Commerce, the Rural Energy for America Program, the Natural Capital Investment Fund’s Energy Initiative, the West Virginia Small Business Development Center, and more. 

Mary Hott speaking brought on lots of laughs during her speech.

Mary Hott, the WVSBDC Eastern Panhandle Center business coach located in Martinsburg, spoke at the ribbon cutting about the work her and Matt put into this project in order to develop a business plan to secure a loan for the hotel investment.  

We also had a representative of MTV Solar explain the way the new panels would work, how much energy they would bring in, and the difference they would make. For display, MTV Solar hooked up one of their electric cars to demonstrate our new electric vehicle car charger. 

For more pictures and information on our latest endeavors, please visit or visit our facebook page at

Refreshments from Royalicious Bakery.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Welcome Back Day 2016

  River Riders offers an exciting, adventurous atmosphere. It's no wonder that we have so many returning staff members show up to our annual Welcome Back Day. Many arrived at the Quality Inn Hotel, River Rider's newest addition to the family resort, on March 6, 2016 to find the faces of those they made memories with the season before.

  Welcome Back Day offers a brief outline of what to expect for the upcoming season, refreshing on previous emergency procedures, and a chance to update your employee information. As we walked into the banquet room, we were greeted with donuts, coffee, and the exciting smiles of team members that haven't seen each other in months!

  Just before lunch, everyone met with their department members and went over new information for the upcoming season. To our surprise, after having a wonderful lunch we were given a tour of the hotel and informed on all the renovations to come.

  As with every year, it is always a joy to see the staff who make River Riders such a memorable experience as an employee. 

  Though this may have been the last topic on the itinerary for shop, sales, and other staff members, it was not the last for the guides of River Riders.

  Welcome Back Day is also known as a refreshing day for guides who must participate in the P.T. test to be eligible to guide in the upcoming season. This test includes a series of push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, dips, and a 2 mile run.

  Congratulations to all the guides who conquered the fitness test! We are all officially ready for summer. All we are waiting on is the weather and you!

Saturday, March 05, 2016

A Journey to New Found Confidence

  • a feeling of self-assurance arising from one's appreciation of one's own abilities or qualities.
   I'm not sure when it started. Somewhere between the magic of childhood and the mysteries of adulthood, I lost my confidence. It's a strange thing to wake up one morning and think "I can't do this because I'm not good enough" or "I'm nervous to go to high school because people won't like me." After years of observation it became very clear that many people around me felt the same way; children, teens, and adults alike.

  There were so many different techniques and strategies I had created for myself to adjust to this rapid growth of low self-esteem. My favorite was the humor. I had a whole set of jokes that allowed me to insult myself and amuse others at the same time. If I was laughing then it was okay for them to laugh, too, right? I put a lot of focus into working as soon as I started my first job at the ripe age of 16. Up until I was 22, I allowed myself to go through the motions and live day-to-day. 

  May of 2015, I had a job interview with River Riders. I never, in a million years, thought I would stumble upon a journey that would slowly but surely lead me to a more confident version of myself. I started as a sales and service representative and for those who don't know, it can be a very demanding position. As my first couple of days turned into my first couple of weeks, I began figuring out my own way of communicating and handling guests. 

Jack or "Old Man River"
  Each day at River Riders, a raft guide named Jack (also known as "Old Man River") would greet me as I made my way across the gravel lot. He always had words similar to "Miss Melanie, I appreciate all of your hard work. You are wonderful and I hope you have a good day today." He was soon followed by several other raft guides and managers who would smile, shout my name, or offer a quiet "good morning, Mel." Raft guides rarely make contact with sales staff during work hours unless they have questions about a guest. Their words acted like a jump start to my mood and I would walk in those doors with a smile and optimistic attitude.

  River Riders provided remarkable opportunities for me. I got to challenge myself on the Adventure Park a couple of times - an activity I thought I was too out of shape to do. It turned into 2 hours of surprising myself as I conquered obstacles! I relaxed in a kayak on the Potomac River and even tried Stand Up Paddle boarding for the first time! My first time on the Zip Line Canopy Tour was full of emotions. My heart was beating out of my chest in excitement while my fear of heights made my stomach full of butterflies. 

  From the very the moment I zipped on the 2nd tower, I felt like I had evolved into a better, more confident version of myself. I kept thinking "a year ago, I would NEVER have dreamed of doing this." That first trip is all it took to push me to become a certified guide on top of my sales experience. CPR/First Aid course, self-recovering, command training, knot tying, ride-along trips, and more was required of me before I could guide trips. Let me tell you, after learning what a recovery was and how much strength it took, I was positive that I would never become a guide.
  Just like it did for other guides, my time to shine came. On my last ride-along trip, as I landed onto a tower, the guide leading the trip,Jason, grabbed the rope to my trolley and said, "See ya!" I helplessly flew back out onto the line, knowing that I'd have to pull myself up to the line and perform a recovery. Once I threaded my daisy chain through a trolley, made a foot loop, and pulled myself up to the line, I clipped in close and began my uphill pull back to the tower. For just over 130 feet, I continued to push all the while thinking, "Don't give up! You want to be a guide more than you want to give up!"

A view of the plank bridge in the fall, when I began guiding.
My most recent recovery during a "refresh" trip.
As my arms and legs began to shake, I began hearing encouraging cheers from the guides. To my surprise, I began hearing shouts from the children on the trip as well. They cheered, "You can do it, Melanie! Go Melanie! We believe in you! You're the best! You're almost here!" I began doing anything in my power to make it to that tower. I kicked my legs, used two hands at a time to pull myself up the line, and just kept trying. Just as I felt my battle was lost, I felt the same trip leader who had pushed me out grab my harness and say, "Great job! You made it!" Jason is an amazing guide. He's goofy, sarcastic, and a blast to be around. I relied on him a lot when I first began zip lining.

To the right is Jason, the guide who trained me and pushed me onto the line.

The more trips I guided, the more I began to feel confident in my abilities. Just recently, a long time guide, Ash, had commented that he feels as though I am a "strong person" who he "believes in." Ash is a strong, confident, and inspiring person. His words really meant a lot to me. I guess what I'm trying to say is that going out in nature, traveling, and trying new things is a great way to discover long-lost confidence.

Ash, the guide that believes in me.
For many, gaining your confidence is a difficult journey that could take several years. You have to rediscover and identify yourself before you can begin to love yourself. River Riders was the beginning of that journey for me. Aside from being a blast, the activities provide excellent opportunities to challenge yourself, conquer your old comfort zones, and realize your potential. From the bottom of my heart, I hope to see you all out there this summer! 

To find more information about these remarkable trips and experiences, visit

Remember, you can request a guide, including those who made my journey so special. Speak with a sales and service representative when booking your trip and let them know who you are requesting. 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Battle of the Trips!

One of our most popular questions from new guests and callers are things such as: "What's the difference between the Aerial Adventure Park?" or "Which trip is better for me and my group, the Adventure Park or Zip Line?"

Never fear because we have all the answers you need right here!

An important first question to ask yourself when booking an activity is "what kind of experience is my group looking for?" All of our activities provide different experiences so it's essential to evaluate your group and their comfort zones.

The Adventure Park is suitable for participants looking to be challenged on a physical and mental level. This activity has a fitness rating of medium - high. A.K.A.: Expect to break a sweat! There are nine courses that are coded by color - similar to a skii resort. One course, Chicken Little's, is specifically designed to keep children ages 4-6 active for the 2 or 4 hour reservation time.

Our courses run as follows: 2 orange/yellow (beginner), 3 green (intermediate), 2 blue (advanced), and 1 black (expert).

These courses offer 108 different elements! That means 2 or 4 hour climbs filled with rock walls, tight ropes, zip lines, rope ladders, chain bridges, and more! This activity is not guided but is monitored by staff from the ground.

Maybe you're not all about the challenges and more about views and thrills. If this is the case, the Zip Line Canopy Tour may provide a better experience.

From start to finish, the tour can last 2 - 4 hours. The Canopy Tour is made up of 8 zip lines, 2 bridges (one wood plank and the other net), and 4 1/2 ladders. As you make your way through the course, you'll enjoy gorgeous views as you soar alongside the Potomac River. Atop tower 3 the two guides leading your trip will give you a brief water break and a history lesson as you enjoy the view of the historic Hill Top House Hotel.

This activity has a low-medium fitness rating and takes up to 8 guests per trip time. Ages 4 and up can enjoy the Canopy Tour.

So which will it be? The challenging high ropes course or the thrilling zip line? YOU DECIDE!

Still not sure which trip is best for you and/or your group? Give us a call. 304-535-2663

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Preparing for the Season

  Hi, adventurers! Melanie here, informing you about what goes on behind the scenes at River Riders during our off season.
  A lot of time is spent preparing for the season. After all, we have new brochures to design, more items to order, and more guests to accommodate!

This year, we're expecting new gloves for different activities, new t-shirts, and a whole lot of fun.

  Since so much of our time is spent preparing for the season, we also spend a lot of time getting hyped for all the new and returned guests, and staff!

  All of this preparation is no easy task! As a step towards our 2016 season, a manager's training meeting was held on February 19th, 2016. Some of the attendees have been here for years while others have only been here for one season. Some were simply refreshing their managing skills while others were developing them! Thanks to River Rider's owner, Matt Knott, these staff members will be prepared for their season as supervisors and managers.

  With coffee in hand, Matt informed the attending staff of the meaning behind being a manager - being a role model and a leader.

  There were tips and tricks along the way. Throughout the meeting, we learned how to lead our staff, how to properly resolve issues, and how to learn each team member's potential. With these new skills, we will be able to more effectively direct our staff and give them different levels of delegation.

  A question I get all the time when I tell people where I work is, "What do you guys even do in the winter?" The list is so long that after I explain the activities we still provide, I smile and say, "We get ready for the next season."

Don't forget: we are still open in the winter. The Adventure Park and Zip Line Canopy Tour are just waiting for you! Next month kicks off March Madness. What does this mean? You and yours friends can come zip line for $20 off on a Saturday or $10 on Sunday. Camping is also discounted at $5 off. Give us a call to learn more about this special offer.  304 - 535 - 2663

From all of us at River Riders, we can't wait to see you and yours!