All fans of whitewater sports have been impacted by the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) in one way or another. In 1972, the NOC was the outgrowth of an idea that friends working together to pursue their outdoor passions could change lives for the better. Today, the center is a seminal Southeastern paddling hub.
Compiled by Payson Kennedy and edited by Greg Hlavaty, NOC Stories is a collection of 62 entertaining stories by NOC staff veterans--memories that describe the center's first 25 years. It approaches the story of the NOC's inception, a time of exponential growth in whitewater sports and instruction, a time when the NOC's contribution to paddling technique and instruction reverberated around the world. It is both a history of NOC's leading role in the evolution of commercial river running and an overview of when kayaking, as a sport, exploded in the United States. The remembrances presented here blend history with adventure as they document the NOC's singular vision.
About the Author
Payson Kennedy enjoyed a fifteen-year academic career at Longwood College, Hampden-Sydney College, the University of Illinois, and Georgia Tech. He worked at the new NOC in the summer of 1972 and then began year-round work at the NOC in June of 1973. He served at the NOC as President and later as CEO, Chairman of the Board, and CPO (Chief Philosophical Officer) until his retirement from full-time work in 1998. He returned to full-time work at the NOC as CEO and CPO from 2004 through 2006. While working at the NOC, he also guided regularly on six rivers, taught canoeing and kayaking courses, worked as a ropes course instructor, and led extended trips in Central America, the Cayman Islands, and Nepal. Since retiring from full-time work, he has continued to serve on the NOC Board, guides a few trips on the Nantahala River, and especially enjoys regular bicycling, working in his pond, and continuing to do adventure travel trips. Greg Hlavaty worked in NOC Rentals for four years. He believes in combining nature experience with written reflection, and his essays have appeared in various magazines and literary journals, including Arts and Letters, Barrelhouse, Yale Anglers' Journal, and Bird Watcher's Digest. He has taught survival skills classes and led outdoor trips in North Carolina and Alaska, and his writing and teaching are founded on the belief that outdoor adventure and nature connection changes people for the better. He lives in Graham, North Carolina, with his family. Find his website at greghlavaty.com, or contact him on Twitter @greg_hlavaty.