Back at school – On the river
30/4 – 1/5/15
Canoeing and kayaking two day tour between Nelligen and Anglers Reach.
Glassy smooth water. The sharp nose of my very old “dancer” kayak rippled the surface reflections. Clouds built but didn’t spill. Multicoloured canoes and kayaks moved along closer to the shore and contrasted to the shades of bush greens on the bank. The Clyde River. The river all Canberrans know as they speed over the concrete bridge at Nelligen on the summer pilgrimage to or from the coast. Our group of students and teachers were some of the very few that ever venture further than the road or shore.
On the first day I had mixed emotions being back with a school group in the outdoors with that ever present niggling duty of care. The beauty of the late afternoon conditions and a short stretch slightly away from the group helped as the slow calm of the river seeped back to my core. I was working with a group of trainee guides who were assisting the teachers who were overseeing the students who were also under the tutelage of a student teacher along with a couple of ex student helpers. A tangled complex web of skills and knowledge transfer and mentoring. This was a true learning community. I felt a deep sense of satisfaction that I had been able start this program and that now it was seeming sustainable.
At dusk the would be guides dived into their rescue practice tasks. The water was cold. The final part was completed as the moon rose.
Later evening sent us all from the fire to bed. In the middle of the night mist covered the moon.
The weather in the morning had improved. We paddled off in mainly sunshine. The trainees took control and kept it moving and made it fun and swapped the canoe pairs and gave them turns in the kayaks and smiled lots and wound us in and out of overhanging trees in the still water, and cared for them and handled all the scenario rescues and did everything right. I had to relearn that on nearly all of these adventure trips it takes time for the experience to have its effect on people. The change from the first day in the individuals and the group was noticeable if you tuned in. Something subtle often takes place. For this group and some students it would take a few more trips in beautiful surroundings and away from mobile reception with skilful leaders for special characteristics to start showing through. Generosity, inclusiveness, confidence, being at ease in a group.
It did feel good to have a small bit part in it all again.