A beautiful day to be out on the water yesterday and our first session in the faster moving waters of the river. Our morning started with us having a chat about the plan for the day and having a quick bite to eat before we unloaded the canoes and got ourselves into the correct gear. Being our first week on the river, instead of the lake we had been on in previous weeks, meant we needed to learn how to get onto the boats from the river bed. This required team work and a good sense of balance as we needed to enter from the rear of the boat and then walk forward, keeping our hands on the sides of the boats so that we kept our balance centred and were able to get on the canoes without issue or taking a dip into the river. Once we had all gotten ourselves into position in the boats we needed to learn how to push off of the river bank, this required the two people already in the boat to place their paddles on the river bed as the person sitting in the rear, the steering seat, would push off the river bank and get themselves into proper Canadian canoeing position. After a small time spent being shown this we were out on the water and ready to learn how to manoeuvre around the reeds and use the currant of the river to our advantage. This was a whole new challenge for the group as it required the person steering to look ahead and pick a route down the river that would avoid the reeds or islands as they were called by the students. This proved to be very challenging as it meant they had to trust in their use of the paddles to steer and could not be looking down at the paddle checking they were doing it correctly. Once we all had a good idea of how to properly paddle down the river we set off on our first real canoeing journey. The journey took us down the winding river and around many different obstacles, consisting off overgrown trees, reeds and the natural twists and turns one finds on a river. The group did really well heading down the river before reaching the end of our journey and realizing they would now have to paddle back up river. Paddling against the currant is considerably harder than when travelling with the rivers flow. It required teamwork and every member of the team to paddle hard in order to get back to where we had started so that we could get back on land and have lunch. Following lunch we set out on the river once more, this time heading up river and under the low lying bridge. In order to get under the bridge we all needed to lean forward and protect our heads, this was a challenge for some of the group as we needed to be flexible enough to get our heads down low enough to safely pass under the bridge. Once we had all gotten ourselves under the bridge we continued up stream and embarked on our most challenging canoeing session thus far. This proved to be even more challenging than in previous years due to overgrown trees and a relatively unkempt section of the Groynes. The team did incredibly well to take on this challenge and pushed themselves far beyond the limits they thought they had. It was amazing to see the resilience of the group and how well they supported one another as we journeyed up this very difficult section of river. �
At the start of the year six students: Finn Walker, Georgia Flanagan, Jack Murphy, Justin Samuel, Andrew Trieu and Daniel Ratka began their journeys with RISK. Our year started with an opportunity for us all to get to know one other and to see what goals, team work or leadership skills each student might work on. In order to do this we used an array of different teamwork and leadership based games that helped us to identify the skills that were most important to teamwork and leadership, as well as the area’s we felt we personally needed to work on. These are skills that are not only important within the confines of the R.I.S.K. Programme, but are important skills needed to succeed as you transition from school to new and challenging environments.
Our first full block for the year started in the first week of term two and would continue for the remainder of the term. This block was led by the ever capable and knowledgeable Wayne Keen, of Keen Adventures. We started the block on the still and slow moving water at the back of the Groynes, slowly introducing goals and getting everyone comfortable with the idea of paddling and being on the water, which was out of some of their comfort zones. To help everyone feel more comfortable and confident in the canoes, we set some challenges for the group like standing up in the canoes, or doing press-ups on them, all while being out on the water. As the group got better at paddling we changed ponds and started practicing on moving water where some of the group also learnt how to correctly steer the canoes. After a few more weeks and some more learning curves, like avoiding banks and trees, the group put all they had learned into practice by going on a Journey. Our canoe journey took us along the Avon River, starting on the corner of Stanmore Rd and River Rd and finishing by the docks at Kerr’s Reach.
The second full block was Climbing and Archery, led by Ben of the YMCA, The Roxx. This proved to be the perfect location and activity for the groups continued work on co-operation, leadership, and personal development; using a variety of games where everyone had to work together and rely on one other to ensure they all completed the activity safely. The group also learned about climbing, the equipment used and how to stay safe on the walls of the Roxx as well as the big walls found in the great outdoors. Everyone had turns at being climber, belayer and back-up belayer, this helped the group see how all of these roles are very important for the group’s overall safety, and that climbing wasn’t necessarily all about the person on the wall. As a break from regular climbing the group enjoyed some time in Clip n Climb where the group was encouraged to push themselves and learn to trust the ropes and their own ability. We also got the opportunity to spend some time learning the skill of archery. This was a huge challenge for some members of the group as dexterity and co-ordination are the key to succeeding in this activity.
Our last block was preparing for the overnight camp and bringing together everything we had worked on all year. Working in teams we made some Bivvies (survival huts) and learnt how to put up tents, as well as making a menu and buddy burners for the camp. We used Spencer Park for the camp, which allowed us to tackle the challenges of adrenalin forrest. The group also enjoyed the challenge of cooking with one another and being held personally responsible for the clean-up and dishes.
In conclusion this has been a really interesting and challenging year, sometimes exhausting but always rewarding. It has been great to see the progress that individuals have made becoming more confident and self-assured throughout the progress of the year.
We feel privileged to have been part of this journey and always remember “There is NO such thing as I can’t; there is only, I need help.”
Graeme Sullivan and Buggi Anderson
The R.I.S.K. Team.