Outdoor Education Training

Leven River Trip

With the Certificate IV Outdoor Recreation course coming to an end, the white-water paddlers recently embarked on a week of white-water kayaking, and instructing students on the Leven River.  It was a new stretch of water for the group and had some fun rapids and features to play on (contend with!), at the level it was flowing.  After the first reconnaissance mission down the river, we all retired with the comfort of Paton Park Scout Camp facilities for the night.

The following day, we enjoyed another run down the river, which was flowing at a slightly lower level, and relished the opportunity to play on some waves and plough through a hole, before an afternoon of instruction that we were to provide to some of the outdoor education students from Don College.  It was decided that we should take the students to the mouth of the Forth River, where some flatter water could be utilised, with the possibility of surfing some waves at the end of the day, if the students were up to it.  Despite the broad range of abilities in the group of learners, all students ended up surfing waves and having an enjoyable experience together.

Given the level of the Leven River the following day, we decided to take the next group of Don College students there and provide instruction that would allow a short river trip to be run.  Again, the Don College students rose to the challenge and were able to negotiate some rapids and have a safe and enjoyable white-water experience.

As the following day was our last opportunity as a group to practice our paddling before our formal assessment, we spent the entire day being drilled by ‘Sergeant’ Nate Welch, who is largely responsible for the fantastic development of the group over the duration of the course.  There was more than one occasion where I stopped to think about how far we have all come with our white-water kayaking skills, ability to pass on those skills in an effective and empathetic manner and to safely facilitate a river trip with students who are quite new to kayaking.

Beyond the professional development that has occurred within the group, there has been a strong social connection between our student group and our leader, Nate Welch, which was clearly evident on the late-night drive back to Hobart.  I would like to thank all involved for making the trip such an enjoyable success!

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River Crossing Techniques

River Crossings

It was a cloudy morning in Hobart when the Certificate IV in Guiding students gathered at TasTAFE.  The plan was to head out to Plenty on the Derwent River for the day where the Certificate IV in Outdoor Recreation students would be teaching the Guiding Students – river crossing techniques.

The first lesson for the day was a talk on river hydrology.  To give the students an idea of the basics of river features and reading the water.  They were then given a safety brief before heading down to the water.  There were a few nerves in the air but the instructors did a great job of relaxing everyone and starting them off at a comfortable level.  The Guiding students really got into the river crossings, working as a team to make their way out, and back again.

They were taught various methods including solo and group crossings.  After lunch, their hiking packs were loaded with rocks and dry bags for some more crossing practice.

The next activity was a pack swim.  This was to simulate what to do if you get swept away.  Students walked out in a deeper section of flow before being swept off their feet by the current.  They then had to get their packs off before swimming into the eddy.

The last and most exciting exercise for the day was a strainer swim.  A strainer is an object – most likely a log or tree – that is sitting in or just above the water.  The current pushes into a strainer creating a very dangerous situation.  To simulate a make-shift log, we made a log out of PVC pipe and set this up on ropes and moved into the middle of the current.  The Outdoor Recreation students set up safety with a Kayaker, small raft and throw baggers.  The log is set up on a quick release system as extra safety.  A briefing was given for the best method to tackle the strainer as well as some demonstration.  The crowd was tense as the first swimmer floated down towards the log before swimming aggressively towards it and pushing herself over.  Cheers went up as the students relaxed.  This was the highlight of the day.

After the strainer swim we all packed up and got dry.  Looking back at the day it was seen as a big success.  It was a great learning opportunity for both the Guiding students to gain new knowledge and skills, as well as the Outdoor Recreation students getting the opportunity to teach a group.  A big thank you to the Guiding students for coming out and giving us this opportunity.

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