The Nantahala Outdoor Center has been bestowed with the 2012 Outdoor Industry Association Outdoor Inspiration Award. It is the outdoor industry’s top honor for businesses contributing to the future of outdoor recreation, voted on by an expert panel of peers from the outdoor industry.
The awards are given to companies and individuals that “are breaking new ground and getting people outdoors.”
“There is no better validation for our mission to get people outside and offer the very best programs in outdoor recreation and education. This is a wonderful and unexpected honor,” said NOC President and CEO Sutton Bacon.
NOC’s nomination highlighted the following initiatives:
• Starting the Canoe Club Challenge, an annual series of free paddling races based on participation instead of competition, clocking over 1,500 starts to make it the largest whitewater slalom event in the country.
• Supporting the Nantahala Kids Club, a local outreach program offering free paddling lessons and outings to over 40 local schoolchildren.
• Launching and growing the NOC Youth Paddling Team.
• Sponsoring and hosting the Camp Cup Challenge, an event for over 150 youth paddlers at North Carolina’s large summer camp community.
• Opening an experiential retail environment at the Gatlinburg entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park that educates visitors on easy guided and do-it-yourself recreational opportunities in the park.
• Winning a bid to host the 2013 ICF Canoe Freestyle World Championships on the Nantahala River to promote regional paddlesports opportunities to a worldwide audience.
• Contributing to the successful effort to build a permanent world-class kayaking wave on the Nantahala River for free public use.
• Hosting 12 additional outdoor events including a large AT thru-hiker festival, the USA Canoe and Kayak Team Slalom National Championships, the national Wildwater Team’s training camp, and an Olympic Day Festival where kids were invited to paddle with NOC’s very own Olympic athletes.
• The company’s commitment to sustainable building practices, demonstrated by three US Green Building Council LEED certified projects in the last year.