Other recipients of the 2012 Inspiration Award include The North Face, National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind mountaineer to climb Mount Everest and the tallest mountains on every continent.
The ceremony caps the OIA’s Winter Outdoor Retailer event—the premier tradeshow venue for the outdoor specialty industry. Representatives from many of the organization’s 4,000 manufacturers, distributors, suppliers and retailers will be attending the event hosted by Reinhold Messner—renowned for the first solo ascent of Mount Everest without oxygen—and Sasha DiGiulian, the world’s top-ranked female outdoor sport climber.
The Outdoor Inspiration Awards are given to companies and individuals that “are breaking new ground and getting people outdoors.” NOC’s nomination highlighted the following efforts by the company:
- Starting the Canoe Club Challenge, an annual series of paddling races based on participation instead of competition. This paddling event had over 1500 starts making it the largest whitewater slalom event in the country in 2011. It was free to participants.
- Supporting the Nantahala Kids Club, a local area outreach program offering free paddling lessons and outings to over 40 local schoolchildren from 6 to 16 along with use of gear and equipment.
- Launching and growing the NOC Youth Paddling Team, an effort to sponsor youth paddlers who promise to focus on school, promote whitewater paddling as a recreational activity and to live a drug and alcohol-free lifestyle while improving as whitewater athletes.
- Sponsoring and hosting the Camp Cup Challenge, an event giving over 150 youth paddlers at North Carolina's large summer camp community the chance to paddle in a large, end-of-season inter-camp competition.
- 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 National Park, hosting over 300,000 visitors in 2011.
- Winning a bid to host the 2013 ICF Canoe Freestyle World Championships on the Nantahala River in North Carolina 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 and provide for a long-term legacy for the event.
- Hosting twelve 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 certification projects in the last year.
NOC President and CEO Sutton Bacon remarked “We’re humbled to receive this award from our peers in the outdoor industry. 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.”
NOC Marketing Director Charles Conner added, “It’s important to note that we wouldn’t be receiving this recognition without our regional partners who collaborated with us on many of the projects considered by the OIA. Also, we’re blessed to have guests who are committed to their outdoor lifestyles, and who are always game to pilot NOC’s new offerings and programs.”
The award comes as our company celebrates its 40th anniversary. Since opening in 1972 NOC has been one of the nation’s premier outfitters, outdoor retailers and roadside attractions.