Jim and Jeanette Greiner have been helping people escape the concrete ecosystems of everyday life since 1971. That's the year that they founded Wildwater, and as its name suggests, it started as a rafting outfitter that led groups down the rushing waters of the Chattooga River. Today, Wildwater's trained guides still navigate a number of rivers?the Ocoee, Nantahala, and Pigeon, in addition to the Chattanooga?but they've expanded their reach to the land as well. The company offers canopy tours with a combination of ziplines and elevated bridges, inviting guests to take a thrilling trip through the treetops. If clients prefer to stay within a few feet of the ground, they can opt for jeep tours that explore paths beyond the main roads.
Since Wildwater's team values the beauty of the natural environment, they embrace eco-friendly practices intended to help protect the areas they explore. Each of the company's locations strives to minimize its impact by using solar-powered water heaters for the showers, composting leftover food, and painting all of the outdoor equipment with chlorophyll.
Arts and crafts. Ultimate Frisbee. Digital photography. Horseback riding. Music lessons in guitar and drums. There's so much to do at Camp Blue Ridge that it's easy for kids to forget the few things they won't be doing, like surfing the Internet or learning economics. In two-week increments, campers ages 6 to 16 design their own curriculum and make the 250-acre facility in the Blue Ridge mountains their own. Whether they want to go canoeing on the two lakes or learn to rock climb in a given week is entirely in their own hands. The camp also offers regular field trips to destinations such as Six Flags Over Georgia and White Water. Featured in the New York Times, Camp Blue Ridge gives young people a taste of grown-up self-determination seasoned with a helping of skateboarding.
Founded more than 115 years ago in collaboration with Clemson College, the Foothills Area Family YMCA operates as a nonfacility YMCA. Choosing to focus on programs rather than gymnasiums filled with concrete slides, the Y caters to a large and diverse community. Programs reflect the diversity found in its members, with activities ranging from afterschool care and flag-football leagues to swim lessons and dog training. No matter the program, the Foothills Area Family YMCA strives to provide essential lifelong lessons and impart the YMCA’s four core characteristics: honesty, caring, respect, and responsibility.
Golfers across Texas, Arizona, and Georgia get an expert's opinion on their local private and public courses through AvidGolfer Magazine. The professionals also offer some basic instructions, in-depth product reviews, and careful explanations of why a lower score is better. Besides expert advice, the magazine releases an annual passbook that grants subscribers entry into several local courses.
At the summit of Mount Yonah, hikers bask in the dying sunlight and soak up views of verdant foothills that span the horizon. Before the sun dips below the peaks, they meander back down the craggy trail toward Habersham Vineyard, where they can toast to a wholesome day of hiking. This scenic hike is one of dozens of possible routes led by Georgia Wine Hiking’s knowledgeable guides. They draw upon their knowledge of the region to showcase the best trails and wineries during daylong tours. Based on each group’s fitness level, interest, and ability to tolerate photo-bombing sasquatches, guides can plan easy-going three-hour hikes around Stone Mountain, or embark instead on a 10-hour journey up the steep foothills of Standing Indian. Regardless of the tour route, guides take time to point out local flora and fauna, and energize groups’ with a light lunch.
On the shores of Lake Hartwell, Harbor Light Marina's fleet of 16 new boats waits to cut through the water. Strictly maintained fishing boats, deck boats, and pontoons ferry fishermen or parties into the lake's middle or around its 1,000-mile shoreline, acting as suitable bases for catching striped bass or honing a cannonball. Icons of leisure, the pontoons vary in size to fit each guest's needs, the largest checking in at 28 feet—long enough to fit 16 passengers or set up an eye chart to test the captain’s vision. And all the vessels park in the marina's slips, alongside spaces rented out to other local aquanauts.