7 River Names You Don’t Want To Earn

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.
  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.What a funny nickname!
  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.
  • Vykki

    Love giving out nicknames! My all time favorite was when my husband and son gave me the trail name of Snot Rocket sung to the tune of the Hotpockets commercial. I got very sick while we were backpacking on the AT sans facial tissue and I didn’t want to use up all the toilet paper. You get the picture!

  • Tera Adams

    While working on the Kern River in California one high water year (not my rookie year nor my first high water year), my boat happened to be upside down so often that the guy in charge of naming the new midseason fleet of rafts, flipped one upside down, painted my name “Miss Adams”. When dry, he flipped it rightside up so the name was upside down while the boat was rightside up…. I might have also won the award for most river miles swam that season.

  • Dave

    Or as a river guide, you really really do not want to be in the position where a feature on a river is named after you. One particular river has feature known as Dave’s Rock…not my best moment.

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