Rafting Legend – Shanandoa Mountains, Virginia

On a rafting trip her friend’s “mother was saying, ‘Oh, you know you guys should be careful you could drown and I was like, ‘Oh, no. I’m a good swimmer.’ And she was like, ‘No! I know this story about this old woman who was rafting on the river out here and uh, she was a really good swimmer like you Andrea, you know she was a really good swimmer. But she fell out of the raft in the high rapids and she got stuck under one of the rocks cause you know like under it cause the current was so fast going over it that she got stuck and then she drowned and she couldn’t get out.’ And this was used to scare me and my friend. And it definitely worked!”

The informant, originally from Arlington, Virginia, learned this legend was she was in 3rd grade on a rafting trip with her friend’s family. They had gone over some terrifying rapids on a multiple day rafting trip and her friend’s Mom had had them get really low into the boat so they no one would fall out. The informant clearly understands this as a legend told to scare children into behaving well while rafting.

This mother may have exaggerated the dangers of rafting – the logistics of getting caught under a rock are not beyond imagining but out of the real of normal experience. Mentioning this legend served its purpose not so much in being a realistic representation but in controlling child behavior enough to relieve a frightened mother’s anxiety. Especially a mother that was given the task of ensuring the safety of not only her own child but also another’s child who she didn’t as trusting a relationship with.