July 24, 2017

Meet the Local: River Pioneer and O.A.R.S. Founder George Wendt

Posted : October 16, 2012


Did you know the adventure travel industry practically started right here in Angels Camp?  And one of the men behind it all, O.A.R.S. Founder, George Wendt, is still here in Calaveras County running one of the most renowned whitewater rafting and adventure travel companies on the planet.

Here’s George’s story, as well as some local river history…

George will be honored this week by Friends of the River with the prestigious Mark Dubois Award at the 2012 California River Awards.  The event honors those who have made outstanding contributions to river conservation, preservation and protection.

More about George and O.A.R.S.

George Wendt (not to be confused with the famed Cheers actor), founder and president of the O.A.R.S. Family of Companies, co-founder of Sobek and recipient of the Adventure Travel Trade Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award, is a true pioneer in the adventure travel industry. His passion for running rivers was born in the 60s, when he became one of the first 1,100 people to descend the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. In the decades since, O.A.R.S. has set the standard for first-class rafting, as well as environmentally and culturally responsible travel, on over 35 rivers and coastlines worldwide.

George has run first descents on some of the world’s most legendary rivers, fought to include California’s Tuolumne River in the National Wild and Scenic River System and helped to establish the Upper Navua Conservation Area in Fiji. Wendt has also testified before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on River Preservation, and through O.A.R.S. spearheads donations totaling more than $70,000 per year to dozens of conservation efforts. He has donated countless hours and river trips in support of youth, community and conservation causes and has helped introduce more than 500,000 people to the beauty of rivers and the natural world.

George is a founding member of the Adventure Collection and a regular speaker at the annual Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference.  In 2006 George joined producer/director Greg MacGillivray in the Grand Canyon with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and anthropologist Wade Davis for the filming of the IMAX movie, Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk, a story about the global disappearing act of fresh, clean water and wild rivers.

Since 1969 O.A.R.S. has set the standard in first-class rafting, sea kayaking and multi-sport vacations, with destinations and unparalleled experiences on over 35 rivers and coastlines of the world. O.A.R.S. caters to active travelers of all ages and abilities with more than 75 unique itineraries worldwide, including one-day and weekend escapes. For more information on O.A.R.S. eco-friendly adventures visit www.oars.com, email the company at info@oars.com or call 1-800-346-6277.

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