We have always enjoyed UMW students in the shop as customers, clients, and as employees.  Berkley, Kate, Bailey, and Thomas are all UMW alumni.  We also have UMW professors and staff who visit us at the shop.  We even have a certain UMW head swim coach (Abby), one of our favorites, who is an adventurer taking SUP and climbing instruction this past summer.  Even with our current relationships we are always looking for additional ways we can connect with the students, faculty, and staff and provide benefit to the University.

We would like River Rock to be one of many factors that drive UMW students to Downtown Fredericksburg.  [xp_academy_unique_fact] We believe that a University must be connected to the social, cultural, and economic development of the town where it resides.  Likewise, businesses must find ways to offer services that benefit the students and staff and encourage engagement and growth. [/xp_academy_unique_fact]The two cannot, or should not, operate as independent entities but rather find mutually beneficial partnerships.  These partnerships are necessary for the long term health of both the University and the local business community.

We opened River Rock in part to form a community; a community of people who share our passion for the outdoors.  Local outfitters often serve as community centers.  They provide a space where you can hang out, talk adventure, see cool gear, swap notes on best paddling or fishing spots, and in general feel at home.  We try to create that same feel here in Fredericksburg and hope to provide that local, outdoor resource to the University.

I wonder if people really understand what a cool University exists here.  We are starting to.

Jon Pineda, creative writing professor at UMW, is an avid fly fishermen.  He visits the shop to check out Dan’s latest flies and we knew him simply as a fellow fisherman who appreciates our awesome river.  We saw an article, Fish Tales, a few months ago where he had his writing students get outside to experience fly casting.  He argued that students need to have experiences in order to write about them.  I immediately recognized him.

Not only was I super jealous of his students but I knew I had to officially meet him and find a way that we could support.  I mentioned to him that we are always available to provide his students with an outside experience.  I also thought it might be interesting to have a student join us on adventures and write blog posts about the experiences.  It would provide us with content and offer a student the opportunity to be published on a business’s website.  Win-win!

Welcome Rebecca Melson.


Rebecca is a senior at UMW studying Creative Writing and Journalism.

When I had this crazy idea I was not expecting such talent.  Rebecca loves the outdoors, hikes a ton (when she is not busy raising her kids and going school), and has such an energetic and positive attitude.  She literally fit right in with our team.  When I asked her what she wants to be when she “grows up” she said, “After I graduate, I am really hoping to continue writing in meaningful ways.  My dream job would be to buy a van and travel around the country, revealing the stories that unite us as Americans and humans.  We have become so unnecessarily divided, that stories we can connect and relate to may help heal our culture. However, I may have to get a big girl job one day, but I don’t think so”.  What better way, what better person, to bring our communities together – the University and River Rock.

We are so excited for this crazy, cool partnership with Jon Pineda and Rebecca.  It brings us one step closer to establishing a relationship with UMW and hopefully a larger community connection between Downtown and its University.  Rebecca has already finished her first blog posts for us detailing her experiences on Small Business Saturday.  We can’t wait to get her in a kayak, on a rock face, or out on a trail so that she can document her experiences.  I like to think that this is the exact message Jon was trying to impart to his students.  Go out and live, then come back and tell your community about it. 

Stay tuned for Rebecca’s posts….

To learn more about one of our many talented UMW professors, Jon Pineda, check out the following:

Books for Sale

Poetry Foundation – Poets