What We Do

In order to accomplish its goals as a nonprofit organization, the Nantahala Racing Club (NRC) works to partner with local schools, recreation departments, and outdoor retailers to create programs and events for all families in Swain and Graham counties including the Snowbird Community, and part of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Reservation. 65% of students in Graham County receive free and reduced lunch, and 34.2% of youth under age 18 live below the poverty level. As a result of high unemployment rates (11.3%) and lack of outdoor-recreation culture, few Graham County students have been exposed to outdoor sports, or currently have the opportunity to explore the natural resources beyond their own backyard. By offering these youth an engaging introduction to outdoor recreation, the NRC sparks a long-term interest in paddlesports as well as a passion for exploring the natural world around them.

Beginning on flat-water, participants of NRC’s Nantahala Kids Club build a foundation of skills through exploration and active play on Fontana Lake. Later, professional instructors lead expeditions down regional rivers, including the Nantahala, Little Tennessee, Tuckaseegee, Ocoee, Chattooga, and Snowbird Creek. Welcomed into NRC as young “Rhinos” (the NRC mascot since 1990), participants form relationships with young paddlers from around the country at a series of family-friendly whitewater competitions, creating an extended community of active, outdoor youth. To learn more please visit the Nantahala Kid’s Club and the After School Kayaking program pages.

Over the years the methods and practices of the NRC have fostered countless positive relationships between youth and the outdoors as well as helped send 24 members to the Olympics, including Tokyo 2020 Olympian, Evy Leibfarth!