What can you expect from a prep? Let’s use paddling for example - First thing after morning assembly, groups of eight boys (in four sets of pairs) come to the Yak Shack to start their paddling preps. From the beginning the basics are covered, and the many questions boys have are answered. Do I need shoes? No. What about my shirt? Not unless you want it. Sunscreen? Definitely. As they wait to start some dip their feet in the lake water and are surprised by the cool temperature.
After a quick introduction boys head over to a canoe to start learning. Here they’ll learn the anatomy and terminology of a canoe. Once they’re done, the boys will know the bow from the stern and perhaps most importantly to not grab the gunwales (pronounced gunnels). Putting too much weight on the gunwales can make the boat difficult to maneuver or more prone to capsizing.
While at the canoes, they’ll also learn the parts of their main tool: the paddle. It’s good to be able to tell the blade from the t-grip. Next, they’ll be taught some basic paddling strokes on the dock, to perfect their stroke technique before getting in the boats. Kneeling on the dock they’ll dip their paddles into the water and practice, following the instruction of the counselors. Forward, back, pry, draw.
Once they’ve shown that they know how to hold and use their paddles, it’s time for campers to put on a PFD and hop in a boat with their partners. Yesterday, one pair of campers decided to partner up because they recognized each other from the 2-Week session in 2021, and chose to reconnect by being paddling partners for the day.
To pass the prep and get on a river in a canoe, partners need to be able to complete the buoy course in a certain amount of time. The buoy course is a test of how well boys can work together to efficiently and effectively maneuver their boat around obstacles. If paddling partners can complete the course in the allotted time, it’s likely that they’re proficient enough to get out on a river and start trying out rapids. To be successful on the river the campers need to be able to put the boat where they want it, dodging rocks and other obstacles.
It sounds relatively simple. Just paddle your boat. However, the prep is deceptively difficult when you include the added element of teamwork under pressure. Campers must learn to work efficiently with their partners to navigate the course. In some boats a bit of bickering is inevitable. The pressure to succeed can cause small errors which throw the boat of course. They’ll need to learn to trust each other, recover from mistakes, and communicate.
Now you know why we start with preps before any trips, but why do we start boys out in canoes before moving to kayaks?
“For me, the teamwork piece is one, but also canoeing is a skill that’s lifelong,” said Ben. Yates echoes Ben’s sentiments, adding that “kayaks are forgiving, so if you learn to read whitewater when kneeling in a canoe instead of sitting in a kayak, you become much better at it. You don’t need to be the strongest to canoe either, it’s about finesse and technique.”
No matter what kinds of adventures these boys are looking forward to this session, our counselors will help them be prepared and set up for success! “Adventure” also happens to be the theme for this week. We’ll certainly be embracing adventure every day, whether it’s in camp or off property!