Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Dry land river reading activity

Smurf avoids the hydraulic with the log stuck in it.
Our 10-week spring kayaking class at the local YMCA is almost over. We've spent time teaching rolling and basic strokes in a small pool augmented only by slalom gates and our own imaginations. Some of our activities are of our own creation, but one we owe entirely to Tom Lindblade, president of the Illinois Paddling Council, instructor trainer for countless canoe instructors, instructor to countless canoe students, advocate for local waterways and paddlers...in short, a mentor to us all.

It's the "river in a box." Simply put, it's a long piece of denim on a gradient with some pieces of yarn and a bunch of rocks, sticks and other river accessories. Ours also features pillow stuffing to simulate whitewater, and a Smurf paddler with an awesome helmet you can't buy in any larger size.

After showing a short film clip about river reading and talking about river features, how they're created and how they affect paddlers, we had our students create the river banks and eddy lines with the yarn and place the rocks, twigs and stuffing on the river. Then we looked at what our Smurf would experience as he headed down the river, choosing safe routes and play spots.

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