Not many 11-year-olds can say they've had the opportunity to spend their birthday in a different location every year.
River McDuffie, who began flat-water racing when she was just five years old, is one of the few who can.
It just so happens that River's birthday, August 7th, always coincides with the USCA National Championships, allowing her to celebrate her birthday in all kinds of different places.
Times Observer photo by Colin Kyler
River McDuffie and her parents William and Lynne are competing in this week’s USCA National races.
McDuffie, who travels with her parents William and Lynne and who just turned eleven on Tuesday, has spent birthdays in New Hampshire, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin (two times), and Warren (four times), to name a few.
That's quite a list for somebody who has yet to reach even her teenage years.
"She's spent maybe one birthday at home," William said of his daughter.
"We always throw her a big party before we leave, and then we get to celebrate on the road," Lynne added.
While many kids would rather stay home and have fun with their friends, River makes it clear that she enjoys travelling to races with her family. A shy and quiet girl, she smiled and nodded her head in approval when asked if she enjoyed going someplace new every year.
"She always asks 'when are we going on a big trip?' It's not a bad way to spend your birthday," William said.
River, like all kids, still likes to do normal things as well.
"One day she asked us, 'are we ever going anywhere without our canoes?'" Lynne said laughing.
"So then we had to make the Disney World trip," William added without missing a beat.
William and Lynne have both been involved with the sport for years, racing in their first flat-water Nationals in 1994 and their first white-water Nationals in 1992, so naming their daughter River may seem like it was a logical choice. William, however, notes that the name came about in a unique way.
"The name River actually started as a joke. We knew we were going to have a baby girl, and we needed to call her something while we were waiting so we just started calling her River," William said. "And by the time she was born, we said we couldn't imagine calling her anything else."
The McDuffie family also jokingly noted that their hometown of Robbins, North Carolina now actually has three people with the name River - theirs and two others - despite having a population of only 1,000.
Canoeing is a big deal in Robbins and the McDuffie family, who have 37 canoes and kayaks at home, have helped make it even bigger, starting several youth programs and getting more people involved with the sport.
River, who finished first in the USCA youth orienteering Wednesday and was scheduled to race in two youth sprints on Thursday, has now started white-water rafting as well, and her parents gave her a white-water canoe for her birthday this year.
The future will likely hold several more birthdays like this one for River, albeit in different locations.
"We have no plans to stop," said William. "I can't think of a better sport than this."