Manchester University
Oak Leaves

September 30, 2016

River Float

Sophomores float down the Eel River Saturday, Sept. 18.


Sophomores Participate in Inaugural KenapocoFloat

Cass Ratliff

Thirty-two students on six different rafts from the Manchester University class of 2019 floated down the Eel River into their sophomore year on Saturday, Sept. 18, during the first annual KenapocoFloat held by the Office of Alumni Relations.
That day, participants met at the Environmental Studies Cabin at 2 p.m. to check in. After listening to students speak about the river and receiving some ground rules, sophomores then made team flags for their rafts. These flags will be sewn into a quilt and auctioned off by Alumni Relations during Homecoming. The proceeds will go directly to fund future class events.
From the cabin, students were shipped off to a river-access site in Liberty Mills where they boarded their rafts and began their journey. Each raft also included one or more faculty and staff members, including President Dave McFadden, Tim Brauch, Michael Dixon, Josh Dzurick, Kurt Kurtzhals, Jordan Redding, Andy Rich, Jessica Sillaman and Lauren Zlotecki. Another very welcomed member of the group was Josh Dzurick’s dog, Champ, who often swam ahead of the rafts in the water or ran beside the rafts in the dirt, all the while holding a tennis ball in his mouth.
The trip began quietly, but it was not long after hitting the water that the rafts broke out in competition. Different groups would sing songs and laugh as they each raced toward Manchester University’s football field, where they exited the river.  Here and there, rafts got stuck in shallow spots while other rafts floated by, its passengers looking on amusedly. However, it was never too long until the roles were reversed.
When students exited the river, they were instructed to hose off, dry their rafts and return their life jackets, all of which were provided by Kosciusko County Soil and Water Conservation District. After doing so, students went back to the Environmental Studies Cabin and ate a meal provided by Chartwells and were treated to ice-cream floats.
Before leaving, each sophomore walked away with a squirrel-shaped Manchester University stress ball and some won door prizes. Many students walked away with comfort as well. “It was so relaxing and peaceful, especially after a long week,” said Delaney Ray. 
Other students walked away with excitement. “My experience with the float was amazing!” said Lauren Rodts. “Although I’m a STAT member who plans events like these, I wasn’t sure exactly what it was going to be like. I couldn’t be gladder that I did it, though. It was such a cool opportunity and an awesome event to be a part of.”
Alumni Relations has been planning this event since last spring specifically to bring sophomores together. “As you probably know, we work to do an event for each of the classes every year,” said Melissa West, assistant director of Alumni Relations. “We want, first of all, to have an event where we put students in an environment outside of the classroom where they can specifically meet their classmates. Really, we want to create class unity by providing you with the opportunity to do things with the people you will graduate with.” West feels that the river is an iconic piece of the community that needs to be drawn back into campus. “Doing something where we could get students on the river was important to us,” West said.
President McFadden learned about this event a few months ago and was excited to be a part of it. He really enjoyed the singing, racing and listening to students talk about their lives on campus. “My hope is that this event becomes established as something students look forward to,” McFadden said.
This year’s sophomores are already talking it up. “I will 100-percent encourage first years to take part when their turn comes,” McKesson said. “Especially with being a SOL, this will be an event I talk about to my first years.” 
West, who was major contributor to planning this event, encourages next year’s sophomores to give it a chance and try something new.