If you rafted with us in the past you may remember a tall, bearded, imposing, yet gentle figure that graced the camp for many years before the dark time of the COVID. Assisted by such blithe spirits as Scotty, Penny, Jose, Randy, Heather, Joe T. and of course, Charlie the River Dog, it was Greg Hawkins, the alter ego of Obi Wan Kenobi, who was Master of all that was MaLode!
So, it is with great pleasure and excitement that we announce that the Master has returned. This puts a smile on the faces of all of us here at the camp, and we are excited to spread the word! Since much time has passed, a brief introduction is in order (see also Greg’s Bio).
Growing up in Texas with access to outdoor adventure of all kinds, I believe Greg came to appreciate early on that nature’s power and beauty is best if directly experienced, hands on. This is likely to be what led him to pursue a BS in Recreation Administration, followed by experience as Manager of the LeFlore County, Oklahoma, Youth Adventure Program. It was there that he managed and helped develop their Ropes Challenge Course. Facilitation of group process is one of Greg’s true gifts, and I can imagine that watching him help those youth confront and overcome challenges on the ropes course was inspiring!
Having found his passion, Greg then pursued a Masters in Education while managing the Outdoor Recreation Program at Texas State University. Leading and coordinating whitewater rafting and canoe trips, rock climbing, hiking, biking and all manner of outdoor adventure have been where Greg is in his element.
My first personal encounter with Greg was in the late 1990s when he worked as Manager for an exceptional team of guides that composed the Chili Bar Outdoor Center (CBOC). At six foot two, he literally stood out, and it was clear everyone felt a presence that made him special, on and off the river.
When MaLode acquired CBOC in the year 2000, following the destruction of CBOC’s dreams by the Great Flood of 1997, Greg did not come with the deal. Rather, like the Jedi he is, he took his time to check us out before finally joining us as our General Manager. Once on board, however, he went all in. He was essential to the transformation of Mother Lode River Trips, a conservation advocating whitewater rafting company and saver of rivers, into the Mother Lode River Center of today with the addition of the Outdoor School, Challenge Ropes Course and Sustainable Practices Programs. Those were great years, and when Greg answered the pull of greater family responsibilities to manage the recreation facilities owned by El Dorado County’s water district, we missed him greatly.
Now that fate has intervened to enable his return, and since the “Death Star” of COVID has loosened its grip, we at the River Center are prepared to welcome Greg home. In the tradition of guides gone, but not forgotten, let us raise the MaLode cry of gratitude: “thanks for the shoes”! May the path ahead be bright and filled with promise for the next generation of Jedi Eco-Warriors. You are needed more than ever, and Greg is calling you home……