NOC Stories describes the Nantahala Outdoor Center’s first 25 years, a time of explosive growth in whitewater sports and instruction.
NOC Stories by Payson Kennedy and Greg Hlavaty presents a history of the Nantahala Outdoor Center as seen through the eyes of early leaders and some of its dedicated staff. This history spans the years 1972-1997 and approaches the story of the NOC’s inception and growth in conjunction with the explosive growth of paddlesports and paddle instruction; in a very real sense, the great strides in paddle instruction and the growth of whitewater sports parallels the growth of the NOC.
Many people today see the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) for what it has become: a seminal Southeastern paddling hub and profitable business. What they don’t know is that the NOC started with a semi-utopian vision, the idea that friends could work together at pursuits they were passionate about, and that this endeavor would not only be profitable for the company, but also life-changing for the individual. That’s not something many businesses can say, but in the case of NOC, it’s turned out to be true.
If you asked current culture-makers and business owners in the whitewater industry about their formative years, you’d find many were previous staff members, clinic participants, and visitors at the NOC. You’d likely also hear that the NOC was instrumental in refining their skillset and in inspiring them to become pioneers in their field. From rafting to river rescue, paddling instruction to Olympic competition, the one thing this diverse group has in common is the NOC. These people are the stories that have become the NOC’s legacy, and this book is an attempt to collect and make sense of them.
But the book also features a very human element, a tinge of adventure that sets it apart from your standard history text. The stories in this book, in addition to their historical value, offer a testament to the experiential aspect of working at the NOC, that ineffable change that has affected so many staff and that forms the basis for outdoor adventure programs.
The NOC was, and is, a dream; these are the stories of its dreamers.