7 River Names You Don’t Want To Earn

3 Min. Read
7 River Names You Don’t Want To Earn

If at least one person doesn’t come out of a vacation, road trip or adventure outing with a new nickname, well, you did it wrong.


And frankly, those are the moments I long for.

Somebody forgets something.

Somebody breaks something.

Somebody flails so spectacularly it paralyzes witnesses with gut-busting laughter.

And out of this, new nicknames are born. Inside joke references that only your group will get form bonds and memories that will last you a lifetime — sometimes at the expense of a bit of pride, however.

On this last point, let us dwell. There are, in fact, nicknames you don’t want to earn.

We can all take advantage of a chance to become someone new, someone of our own invention on a river trip. But here are some examples of new identities you’ll want to avoid:

1) “Liberace.” Don’t be the guy who brings all sorts of unneeded and inappropriate apparel and jewelry. Just don’t.

2) “Sunshine.” Don’t be the guy or gal who doesn’t know how to relax, let go and just have fun. There’s no room for downers in these magical places.

3) “Lefty.” You’re going to want to apply sunscreen evenly — to your arms, to your neck, shoulders and back, to the tops of your thighs and feet, too, if you’re wearing sandals. You could also earn this one by grabbing something hot, not looking where you’re stepping on shore or a host of other snafus that could diminish your ambidexterity. Be safe.

4) “Disco Kid.” Multi-day river trips often feature real disco parties, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. You’re going to learn what a “groover” is, but you don’t want to spend an inordinate amount of time with it (or cause the crew to have to break it out after it’s been packed up). Get too “groovy” and you might pick up this moniker.

7 River Names You Don't Want to Earn on Vacation

5) “Swim Team Captain.” Even the best of us fall out of the boat occasionally. Some people just can’t seem to stay in the boat, though. Stay in the boat. The view is much better from there.

6) “Sparky.” We all love a good campfire. Some of us love it too much. With kids, you can tell them, as I was told, “if you play with fire, you’ll wet the bed.” (This is a whole other river name topic I won’t go into.) With adults, you hope you don’t have to say this. Don’t sit too close to the fire, either, or “Smokey” might be the river name you earn.

7) “Your-Name-As-Verb.” This last river name you don’t want to earn is created when you do something so hilariously awful as to own the action for all time. Get caught lily-dipping your paddle enough, it might become known as “Dave-ing.” Completely fail and burn every s’more you try to make, they might just say you “Susan-ed” it. Avoid this at all costs.

Who in your group never fails to inspire a new appellation?  What’s the worst vacation nickname you’ve ever earned? Tell us all about it in the comments below.

Reid Williams

Reid has guided whitewater and taught swiftwater rescue in the U.S. and Central America on 13 different rivers, after brief turns as a chemistry teacher and a newspaper journalist.

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