With the weather forecast uncertain this morning, I set off to pick up a group of primary school children for a canoe trip down the River Severn. The sky was suggesting a lovely day, but the Met Office were hinting at a marked change late morning, bringing rain and increased winds. I knew that the group had done the ideal section of the river before, so I didn’t really want to repeat it. Weighing up the options, I decided to go for the next stretch of river downstream, putting in at Cressage and looking to finish at Buildwas, and opting to raft the canoes together for increased stability in any breeze.
With waterproof trousers on, ready for the possible rain, we spent time making sure our raft was well constructed before getting on the water in the sunshine. I only had 6 pupils today, so we went for one raft for them, while the teacher and I paddled together in a single canoe – it’s much dryer in a separate boat than being stuck with a group of children that always seem to splash you!
We had a very leisurely paddle for the first 45 minutes to an hour. The main idea was to get them working together, which they started to do really well, co-operating and communication wonderfully, while making slow but steady progress. After an early stop for lunch on the river bank, we had to get our heads down and work a bit harder. With the lion’s share of the paddle still to do, we needed to start to make quicker progress, drawing on the skills that had already developed, in order to meet the minibus at our get out.
Taking enough time to take in the joys of seeing all the wildlife, they made good progress with a few helpful nudges from behind to keep them pointing and going in the right direction. The group worked really hard today, and can be pleased with what they achieved. They’ll sleep well tonight.
And the weather – not a drop of rain all day!