River Crossings

River Crossing Skills

Two weeks ago our Certificate IV in Outdoor Recreation students left the comforts of the Drysdale South Campus to adventure north following the Derwent River.  After a week in the classroom, the students were itching to test out some of their newfound river crossing skills.

The day was jam-packed with hazard scenarios, river reading techniques and some very, very icy water!

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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River Crossings

River Crossings

On Tuesday the 15th September 2015, the TasTAFE Certificate IV Outdoor Recreation and Cert IV in Guiding students joined forces for a day of learning and instructing.  The session was focused on teaching the Certificate IV in Guiding group some useful river crossing techniques with all instruction delivered by the Certificate IV Outdoor Recreation class.

Participants arrived early in the morning at a section of the Derwent River just up from New Norfolk where they covered some very important river safety and theory sessions prior to getting their feet wet and wading out into some small, yet powerful rapids.  The section of river chosen was ideal for the learning activity which provided channels and rapids of varying depths, widths and current strengths to challenge the skills and abilities of participants.

At the commencement of the session’s practical component, students were introduced to crossing techniques in a fairly shallow section of swift water before progressing to a deeper and much faster flowing rapid.  Each individual trialled a number of methods including assisted crossings using a pole for support and wearing a full multi-day backpack for an added challenge and real-life simulation.

A ‘strainer’ obstacle was set up downstream for students to negotiate, practice in white water defensive and aggressive swimming was also covered.

All students rose to the challenge and achieved a high level of competency and confidence in an activity that can prove quite intimidating upon first contemplation.

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