I’ve done a number of Adventure Education weekends with Oswestry School cadets over the last few years. More recently, I seem to have spent more time in boats, coaching canoeing and kayaking skills. This week, the senior cadets, that have given a lot of time and commitment to instructing younger cadets over the course of the year, were rewarded with a week of AT. I was asked to deliver a week’s course on 2 star paddling skills for 3 of them. All 3 had previously done at least one weekend of paddling with me, in one craft or the other, so had a bit of a head start.
On Monday, we made our way to Llyn Geirionydd. It’s a venue that I’d heard about before, but never actually used. I’m glad we did. It’s lovely up there – fairly sheltered and in a wonderful setting. We spent the afternoon in canoes, paddling in pairs and introducing a wide range of steering and turning strokes from both the front and back seats.
I’d already committed to working elsewhere on Tuesday, so had to leave them to it. Ali took over the coaching, and had them in kayaks for the day, spending time on Llynnau Mymbyr (by Plas y Brenin National Mountain Centre) and a short trip down to Jim’s Bridge on the river Llugwy, to introduce them to a bit of moving water.
With my return on Wednesday, we spent the day on Llyn Padarn. We spent the day in canoes, concentrating on doubles paddling in the morning. We started looking at going sideways and introducing the J stroke to make things more efficient. The afternoon was spent paddling solo, which feels significantly different, but the lads actually did very well for a first time.
We headed back to Llyn Geirionydd on Thursday, spending the morning in kayaks again. Surprisingly for many, one of the hardest things to achieve in a river running kayak is to paddle it forward efficiently, so we spent a fair amount of time trying to develop this as well as a general feel for the boat. We had agreed that Thursday afternoon would be our
‘wet’ session and, after enjoying lunch in the sunshine, we all got dressed up for a couple of hours in the water. We practiced towing and shunting boats to the side, self rescues, emptying capsized boats without having a paddler to rescue before expecting people to go for a dip, getting back in a canoe, ‘all in’ rescues and eskimo rescues before finishing off with some throw bag practice. Everyone was pretty tired by the end.
Today was a shortened day, leaving the afternoon to travel back to Shropshire, so I took the group back to Llynnau Mymbyr, to reduce travel time. Spending time in both craft, this morning was about giving everyone the chance to demonstrate what they had learnt over the week, playing some extra games and just enjoying the fabulous setting. A wonderful way to finish a brilliant week of all round 2 star paddling development!