School Group 2: Stuttgart Germany
Our last group left almost a week ago, on Friday morning. They almost left behind the great rains accompanied them. Rains that closed the river (cancelling our paddling program) and forced the staff to scramble for wet weather alternatives to the Grand Descent of the Ardeche gorge – the key element of our program.
I was particularly disappointed. After a week as a troglodyte, leading the caving session I was excited for four days of paddling. Our week started out well. Warm blue skies filled with slight breezes. For the first two days we did the intro to paddling we do before taking them down river.
The day starts by prepping the kids: putting paddles in their hands, helmets on their heads and buoyancy aids on their shoulders. The morning is spent coaching in our front yard (which is the river). After lunch we talk about river hydrology and moving water technique before paddling four sets of rapids and passing underneath the Pont D’Arc. It’s a great day and I’m glad I got to do it twice before rain cancelled the rest of our paddling.
It fell the most overnight into Wednesday – instantly putting the river into a swirling brown torrent and forcing us to do orienteering sessions in the rain. I facilitated groups in student led hikes and in the evenings we had to make up programs to keep the kids entertained under the terrace where we eat dinner instead of by running around in the fields.
Well, despite the weather it was a pretty sweet week in which I learned a damn lot about navigation and orienteering. You pretty much have to when you’re expected to teach it the following day.