I recently led a group of incoming freshman to the backwoods of West Virginia so that they could forge friendships, find a mentor, and go whitewater rafting on the New River with some sick people for some sick times. The trip was about them and what they could get out of this big transitional phase of their lives, but right now I’m more interested in what I’ve acquired from the experience. I’ve received the very appropriate nickname of “Killa Kay”. I met 18 kids, all from different walks of life, and watched them transform from awkward-high-school-senior mode to confident-university-scholar status. I learned that I loved driving my rented black Chevy Tahoe. Maybe it was the people in my car and all of us singing screaming the lyrics to American Pie in unison, but I suspect that the badass-ness of the Tahoe had something to do with it. I learned that 12 boxes of mac & cheese for 22 people is not enough and that there is such a thing as too many tortillas. I learned that one should not place butter on the bottom of a heavy bag in summer or to at least make sure that it’s not there to begin with. I also met a fellow foodie on the trip – a co-guide who I knew before but didn’t really know before, which is sweet because now I have someone who will squeal over perfectly cooked puff pastries and the wonders of swiss chard with me, and someone to consult after I fuck things up in the kitchen and who’ll answer questions like “where the hell did that fireball come from?” In all honesty, this whitewater trip wasn’t my first choice. It’s funny how things work out.