ANGELS CAMP, CA. Oct. 16, 2013 – A United States Marine Captain—stationed in Afghanistan for the past four summers—has been selected as the winner of O.A.R.S.’ “Livin’ the Dream” contest to become a “swamper,” or guide apprentice on a two-weekGrand Canyon rafting trip on the Colorado River, when he returns to the States.
The once-in-a-lifetime position Capt. Bob Sise will claim is the result of a social media contest promoted nationally via Facebook & Twitter this summer to outdoor enthusiasts. The contest was hosted by veteran river outfitter and nature-based adventure travelcompany O.A.R.S. and sponsored by outdoor industry leaders: The Clymb, Northwest River Supply (NRS) and Teva.
During the two-week voting period in September, Capt. Sise of Wrightsville Beach, NC, received well over a third (7,053) of 19,577 votes cast. His submission was among 3,364 wanna-be “swampers” from all 50 states who poured their hearts out for a chance to win a crew spot on a trip through the Grand Canyon.
In response to being selected as the winner Capt. Sise wrote: “I can’t thank my friends and family enough for rallying for me and getting the word out. It was tough pulling in votes while going out on regular 24-hr ‘business trips’ here in the Helmand River Valley, but I knew I had the edge when I heard that Grandmom was getting all of her friends at the nursing home to create Facebook accounts in order to vote daily. The closest thing I’ve seen to whitewater on the Helmand River was a floating IED that detonated a couple hundred feet upriver from us (the Taliban aren’t exactly well versed in the art of reading rapids). No words can express how excited I am for this trip. The last four summers have been put on hold for deployments, so the plan is to pack five summers worth of fun into an epic All-American Summer and I can’t think of a better way than to kick it all off than rafting through the Grand Canyon.”
The two closest runners-up were Michaela Hackner of Arlington, VA with 5,766 votes and Eva Lavalle of Des Moines, IA with 2,033 votes. A consolation river adventure will go to these two women and to 17 other finalists. Each will have the choice to join a rafting trip as a guest on either the Green River through the Gates of Lodore or the Colorado River through Cataract Canyon in Utah.
As a “swamper”, Capt. Sise will be a bonafide member of the O.A.R.S. crew, helping load boats, spending time on the oars, helping prepare meals and mingling with clients. Although this might not qualify as a true vacation, a guide slot on a Grand Canyon trip is considered a dream job by people in the know.
The 14- to 18-day trip will take Sise 280 miles through one of the Seven Wonders of the World, running legendary rapids and exploring hidden side canyons on one of the most popular adventure travel experiences on the planet. He will also receive a guide gear package that includes a personal flotation device (PFD), apparel and footwear provided by NRS and Teva.
In addition to the grand and consolation prizes, one contestant per day during the contest was selected at random to win a copy of the book, The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Though the Heart of the Grand Canyon, by Kevin Fedarko. A weekly winner also received a free pair of Teva Original sandals.
Steve Markle, Director of Sales & Marketing for the O.A.R.S. Family of Companies, had this to say about why the campaign was launched: “We wanted to highlight the Grand Canyon as one of the most sought after and meaningful adventure travel experiences on the planet while systematically introducing our company to a new generation of younger, outdoor lifestyle enthusiasts.” Markle says the results tell the story.