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Many people today see Nantahala Outdoor Center for what it has become: a premier Southeastern paddling hub and profitable business. What they don’t know is that NOC started with a semi-utopian vision, the idea that friends could work together at pursuits they were passionate about, and that this endeavor would not only be profitable for the company, but also life-changing for the individual. That’s not something many businesses can say, but in the case of NOC, it’s turned out to be true. If you asked current culture-makers and business owners in the whitewater industry about their formative years, you’d find that many were previous staff members, clinic participants, and visitors at NOC. You’d likely also hear that NOC was instrumental in refining their skillset and in inspiring them to become pioneers in their field. From rafting to river rescue, paddling instruction to Olympic competition, the one thing this diverse group has in common is the NOC. The NOC was, and is, a dream; these are the stories of its dreamers.