College Clubs and Whitewater

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Seanie
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College Clubs and Whitewater

Post by Seanie » Tue Dec 07, 2010 3:35 pm

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xg0pb6 ... nage_sport
Courtesy of Aberystwyth University Canoe Club

This video provides the back drop for the conversation.

With a committee and safety structure that lacks continuity, and as such the ability to learn from previous mishaps. Are college clubs full of would-be instructors that in most cases don't have the required experience, qualifications, or maturity to provide a safe paddling environment for under students under their care on whitewater?

Can college clubs offer white water programs that are safe?

tiernan
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Re: College Clubs and Whitewater

Post by tiernan » Tue Dec 07, 2010 5:45 pm

Lads that video is 2 and a half min of clusterf*^k...

I think that college clubs CAN provide safe white water paddling however it is mandatory to provide the necessary level of experience on all trips. As a college shelf life is only 4 years (typically) then there should be an emphasis on ensuring that there are oldies around to do rescue. Bar the few that come into college having paddled previously (e.g. scouts) it would take at least 3 or 4 years to get up to a mature safety level (IMHO). And its not all about having certs, etc. The more you go paddling (or do anything in life) the more you will be able to deal with pressure situations, think quick, etc.

If it is the case that college clubs cannot get experience paddlers out with them (e.g. the typical solid oldie),then the club should be hiring an instructor/ guide for the day all the while investing in their members to be trained up to a sufficient level (which again means little without the experience to go with it).

As for the clip above, I think there was an underestimation of the danger of feature or trip leaders were blind to the dangers. i don't think anything need be said about the follow up rescue (after the swim), as it is evident these lads hadn't a clue. i hope the girl was ok.

What would posses someone to put a musical backdrop to this footage and post it to youtube? haven't they heard of abu ghraib?

decgforce
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Re: College Clubs and Whitewater

Post by decgforce » Wed Dec 08, 2010 12:12 am

Sweet divine, its like a really bad ad for specsavers, how many people paddled past that girl and not one thought to look twice!

Paddling can be done safely in colleges, unfortunately college's are populated by students who think they're invincible, the realisation of how dangerous paddling is usually doesnt sink in until you've gathered a little wisdom along the way!

kmck
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Re: College Clubs and Whitewater

Post by kmck » Wed Dec 08, 2010 3:02 pm

I think someone got wise and removed the video. I can understand a video showing a screw-up being shown for training reasons but posting on YouTube is just stupid.

I've had this discussion a number of times and find it boils down to this college clubs aren't really whitewater clubs, members maybe whitewater paddlers but the clubs are really set up to cater for beginners and intermediates.

A typical club year starts out with your come try it sessions on flatwater, few easy river trips, first white water, a few more river trips and maybe some different types of paddling if they are lucky. It then ends in May and repeats for three years doing the same thing.Unless there is an effort to train up replacement rescue clubs go through a boom/bust cycle in relation to paddling experience and skill available.
Freshers may have experienced different types of river and paddling. Their skill level would lag behind their experience and the bigger the gap between these two the greater the danger.

There can also develop an over reliance on a few key paddlers who know the river and rescue, once again you need to push the younger paddlers to take charge on easy rivers to build up their skills to deal with harder rivers.

You can argue for clubs to introduce long term training plans that last more than one college year, you can argue that we need to run training weekends focused on college paddlers showing different techniques for rescue. They have been run in the past, they do take a bit of time to organise but there is an outline for such events available through Benny. Certainly any instructor with a company would love to advertise their courses at such a weekend.

You could run the weekend similar to varsities that it rotates around the country; limit the numbers from each club. Cost for this kind of weekend would be high but most colleges do have funds for training and the individuals who attend can be subsidized by the college. I would say run it the last weekend in august, this would not interfere with the Liffey descent, exams and there is a good chance of getting the numbers plus it would introduce the clubs to instructors in their area and they can have time to arrange for courses tailored for their club needs throughout the rest of the year.

In the end college clubs are a launching base for paddlers and if you want to do harder rivers it's up to you to get out with others to get the skills and the experience you need to do them safely.

I have no doubt that all the ideas have been discussed before but it might be worth raising the idea for the captains meeting for Cork?

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Seanie
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Re: College Clubs and Whitewater

Post by Seanie » Wed Dec 08, 2010 4:48 pm

kmck wrote:You could run the weekend similar to varsities that it rotates around the country; limit the numbers from each club. Cost for this kind of weekend would be high but most colleges do have funds for training and the individuals who attend can be subsidized by the college. I would say run it the last weekend in august, this would not interfere with the Liffey descent, exams and there is a good chance of getting the numbers plus it would introduce the clubs to instructors in their area and they can have time to arrange for courses tailored for their club needs throughout the rest of the year.
I've heard this idea before, and I like it. Universities would almost be obliged to subsidies their clubs, a sort of safety blackmail.

One issue that has been raised is that it wouldn't get the turn out required to make it feasible. I think that if it was approached in a proper manner it would be very successful and even very lucrative for the organisation running it.

There are two other interesting discussions happening on UKRGB:
http://www.ukriversguidebook.co.uk/foru ... =3&t=71370
http://www.ukriversguidebook.co.uk/foru ... =3&t=71345

AndrewR
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Re: College Clubs and Whitewater

Post by AndrewR » Sat Dec 11, 2010 2:19 pm

''in most cases don't have the required experience, qualifications, or maturity to provide a safe paddling environment for under students under their care''
Wholeheartedly disagree.

If you look at Jim's final response on the thread here on UKRGB.

I think he hits the nail on the head.

Experience is a great, exclusive word used by many older and self proclaiming 'safer' paddlers who in fact paddle about 5 times a year. It seems to trump any argument that a person who has been paddling less time can make. However it a lot of cases it is total BS. Experience should equate to actual time on the rivers of Ireland kayaking not time spent talking in the pub about it. Some older long term kayakers have high horses because they spend a fraction of their time on the water and are therefore less inclined to have a compromising situation arise. i.e. make a mistake.

Ive seen mistakes being made by long term kayakers and short term kayakers (who has maybe paddled 3-4 times a week for 2 years) as river leaders and i know myself personally that i would prefer to be on the water with a physically fit, consistant, skillful kayaker who has a good head on his shoulders. As opposed to the rusty legend kayaker who has paddled every river in Ireland but not much in the last 5 years.

Yes, I do believe students can cater for students.

kmck
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Re: College Clubs and Whitewater

Post by kmck » Sun Dec 12, 2010 1:26 pm

It all depends how you define the terms:
Skill = natural talent or Skill = learned technique or Skill = learned technique times practice (It's not practice that makes perfect, it's perfect practice makes perfect) I argue for the third definition

Experience = time paddling not lenght of time in the sport or Experience = range of different rivers done plus time on the water plus maturity of the individual (when to run or not run a rapid)

experience(with a small e)= the different types of paddling and rivers that you introduce a fresher to. This experience in college clubs is very steep while on the other hand of the equation skill level increases slowly.

The weakness in the system is that clubs get reliant on a few individuals, they leave but the club contiues to run what in previous years they would have done with no problem but now find small incidents occurring that wouldn't have before.

In otherwords clubs go through cycles of really shit hot boaters forming a paddling core then other years with one or two strong paddlers trying to emulate the glory years.

I think the argument is how can you make sure that a group of young peer paddlers can gain the skill set quickly to run trips by the end of their third year and that this must be a continous process that doesn't depend soley on having a few good boaters around.

So I don't think it should be old farts vs young guns but rather how do make a better paddler at the end of a college cycle?

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Re: College Clubs and Whitewater

Post by Seanie » Sun Dec 12, 2010 1:44 pm

AndrewR wrote:Wholeheartedly disagree.

If you look at Jim's final response on the thread here on ukrgb.. http://www.ukriversguidebook.co.uk/foru ... 0&start=30

I think he hits the nail on the head.

Experience is a great, exclusive word used by many older and self proclaiming 'safer' paddlers who in fact paddle about 5 times a year. It seems to trump any argument that a person who has been paddling less time can make. However it a lot of cases it is total BS. Experience should equate to actual time on the rivers of Ireland kayaking not time spent talking in the pub about it. Some older long term kayakers have high horses because they spend a fraction of their time on the water and are therefore less inclined to have a compromising situation arise. i.e. make a mistake.

Ive seen mistakes being made by long term kayakers and short term kayakers (who has maybe paddled 3-4 times a week for 2 years) as river leaders and i know myself personally that i would prefer to be on the water with a physically fit, consistant, skillful kayaker who has a good head on his shoulders. As opposed to the rusty legend kayaker who has paddled every river in Ireland but not much in the last 5 years.

Yes, I do believe students can cater for students.
I have yet to reply to Jim on UKRGB, I don't think he's addressed the points I made in the other thread. Some of your points are valid Andrew. However, your points don't combat my view point on college clubs, I'll tell you why...

Firstly, on a broad note you should always try to paddle with people who are better than you, its more fun and you learn more. People that are better than you are usually at it longer, and there comes a point, somewhere in the mid twenties, due to work, family, and life, when people can only get out every few weekends. Almost everyone is in the same boat, at that point, the people better than you will no doubt paddle less than you. But that doesn't matter, because at that stage you're not seeking out skills, fitness or experiences. You're seeking knowledge and wisdom.

Old rusty kayakers have nothing got to do with the shit that goes down in some clubs and shit does go down, in vast quantities. Some of it as you well know goes far beyond a having a single compromising situation arise. In a case, I think you'll be familiar with, there were two up and coming college club instructors with no end of training, fitness, opportunities or (relative to their time paddling) paddling experience. Over a two day period, wholly independent of these rusty legend kayakers, as you've termed them, a kayak club imploded. Key committee members failed to do their job for whatever reason, 3 trips in 2 days were carried out in a massively unsafe manner. Core safety ideals were ignored, and some times pissed upon. If I remember correctly, you yourself even said that the trips were unsafe, sometimes there were a number of safety concerns, but the trips continued. None of this happened because of outside actors, physical fitness didn't help out either, nor did skill, but cop on was lacking. The two student instructors in charge were to blame, so were some committee members, not some old dude at a keyboard, no twisting of words can change that. People need to take responsibility, but as with the other flaws of college clubs, responsibility is in short supply also.

Old rusty kayakers more often than not get involved after the fact, as you quite rightly point out they paddle less. And as you can see, sometimes their interference is not liked at all by the younger folks. But even when it came to the aftermath of the above scenario, a student club with student members refused to take corrective action to prevent the same thing happening again, for reasons such as "they are our friends", etc. etc. This hammered it home if more so. College clubs cant operate at that level safely.

I didn't hold this opinion until I learned about these three trips, the committee reaction and the ensuing analysis, comparing it to the club over the last 10 years or more. Its an opinion I believe that holds for most clubs. I don't think I would "get it" as much as I do, without these past ten years of observation. And more than one cycle of club members is needed to absorb the entire concept and go beyond individuals and single incidents.

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Re: College Clubs and Whitewater

Post by AndrewR » Sun Dec 12, 2010 3:15 pm

Experience = range of different rivers done plus time on the water plus maturity of the individual.

Ya id agree with this. But also do not underestimate the importance of being allowed to learn from mistakes. River-running is an inherantly dangerous sport. Things will go pear shaped sometimes, and these sort of events in my opinion are what builds to your river experience more then anything else. Reaction time to somebody swimming somewhere, decision making before a river trip and just general awareness while paddling as a leader or with peers.

Where we have a Uni kayak club utopia, in which every club river trip was perfect and safety was set up at every bend and every rapid where someone could potentially get hurt was portaged. Are you doing future club lead kayakers a favour?? Or are you babysitting them to an extent that when something does go wrong for real and they are in charge because they've done loads of rivers, spent loads of time on the water under the club super safe environment and are really mature that they wont make the right call. All the money spent on safety qualifications will be wasted because everybody who has been kayaking for a while knows the value of learning and improving from past experiences in real live difficult situations.

Ok theres a line here, and it was stepped on badly on those 3 river trips Seanie, your dead right. But how did you get your knowledge and wisdom? I'm pretty sure alot of it would of come from you being witness to or heard about almost every bad situation thats arisen over the last 10 years and there has been lots.

I dont regret having those experiences for a second. Im glad i was thrown into the deep end in certain situations when I started out, watching how the leaders at the time made difficult decisions and took risks and im not beating myself up too much about my judgement calls that have been criticised, I will recover. I dont condemn the video that started this thread, its a terrible scenario and I personally know 2 members of that club who said that the event shook them to the core, all the leaders on that trip had to take a big reality check, but they will recover aswell and be better for it. In fact all of the UK will now learn about that weir on that river.

Having an over-bearing amount of older instructors on a river trip with little faith shown in younger members and clubs compulsorily portaging rapids with risk even though the club members have the skill levels to run the rapid with appropriate safety is totally counter-productive in my opinion, and will prolong the time it takes beginner river runners to become insightful river leaders by years. In effect long term the club will lose out in bringing river running to newer generations.

Can you see yourself doing river trips for another 10 years Seanie, because in reference to nuigkc I now know as of now our club has not produced a Grade 3 river leader in the last 3 years at least despite having huge intakes of members and with new measures being brought in I dont see it happening any time soon.

Should river running just die as a discipline in University clubs? I dont think people want to see that happening. Whitewater has its dangers, everybody knows it. But why stop there... so does climbing, sailing and surfing.

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Re: College Clubs and Whitewater

Post by Seanie » Sun Dec 12, 2010 4:33 pm

I'm glad you replied, and I'm glad you posed the questions you did. Yet again, largely what you're saying is correct. But some of it is irrelevant for this thread, but I'll try to address it (hoping it doesn't take this off topic). And might I also say, some of what you are arguing against are clearly established best practices.

And also might I just say, yes accidents do happen, to everyone, at every level, at every skill level, no matter what the experience. But putting all of this down to chance and part of the sport is naive. There are different contributory factors in each case, yes some things just happen. But, if they happen over and over again in similar circumstances, they can or could be prevented, for the good of the sport and the safety of the people undertaking the sport. Thats what has brought kayaking to the level its at today.
But also do not underestimate the importance of being allowed to learn from mistakes.
But when people are acting as instructors/guides the students are the people that suffer the main consequence's. Trial and error isn't a valid strategy in a scenario where the person experimenting is responsible for another persons safety. The first time I'm guided down Grade 5 whitewater, I want to be guided by a guide that knows what they are doing and not some guy who is being thrown in at the deep end as an trainee instructor. Thats why people shadow guide, the get their experience gradually and under the helpful eye of someone senior. And internship if you will.
Where we have a Uni kayak club utopia, in which every club river trip was perfect and safety was set up at every bend and every rapid where someone could potentially get hurt was portaged. Are you doing future club lead kayakers a favour?? Or are you babysitting them to an extent that when something does go wrong for real and they are in charge because they've done loads of rivers, spent loads of time on the water under the club super safe environment and are really mature that they wont make the right call. All the money spent on safety qualifications will be wasted because everybody who has been kayaking for a while knows the value of learning and improving from past experiences in real live difficult situations.
I 100% agree. I guess its what your definition of what the deep-end is. But our views are converging. I think debriefing at the end of a trip is the best way to go about it, after I returned from Canada I tried to get this to be adapted in our club. The river trips went ahead, shit happened on the river, within a margin of safety. And we all had a chat at the end about what went well and what could be improved. Far from rapping people in cotton wool. But thats not what I'm taking issue with here and now. I'm getting at flaws with the overall organisation, I think this sort of things is down to individual instructors.
Having an over-bearing amount of older instructors on a river trip with little faith shown in younger members and clubs compulsorily portaging rapids with risk even though the club members have the skill levels to run the rapid with appropriate safety is totally counter-productive in my opinion, and will prolong the time it takes beginner river runners to become insightful river leaders by years. In effect long term the club will lose out in bringing river running to newer generations.
100% agree. I have learned a large part of growing leadership within clubs is knowing when to step down, so that others can step up. There is a period of uncertainty between those two periods, the only standard I would set for intervention is if things become unsafe. Then problem then becomes, how do you get back on track?
Can you see yourself doing river trips for another 10 years Seanie, because in reference to nuigkc I now know as of now our club has not produced a Grade 3 river leader in the last 3 years at least despite having huge intakes of members and with new measures being brought in I dont see it happening any time soon.
Ah, finally back on track ;) Actually in NUIG's case, after only 3 years yourself and Barry are no longer instructors, but I would have previously counted you both as level 3+ instructors. This shows how fickle a club environment can be. Sometimes a year produces lots of instructors, others not so much and other things happen, people leave, people fail college etc. etc. Its not uniform. But clubs are run as if the same resources are there year after year. The same expectations are there. On average how long does it take to train someone as a grade three instructor? 3 years? 4 years? 5 years?
Should river running just die as a discipline in University clubs? I dont think people want to see that happening. Whitewater has its dangers, everybody knows it. But why stop there... so does climbing, sailing and surfing.
I don't think so either. But there is the very real fact, that college lasts four years. Given that most people start kayaking properly when they enter college, four years is not enough time to sufficiently train people up to being an instructor on anything above grade 3+. And given that clubs have good and bad years, in bad years even having sufficient instructors for grade 3 is a push.

There are similarities with climbing, sailing and surfing. Often committee members or instructors are in a position of responsibility, they have to say no to their and even even their seniors in the club. A lot of people lack this maturity at 19 or 20 years of age, and often go down the route that avoids conflict. Kayaking has a lot of ego built into it, some kayakers really don't like being told they cant do something. Being the one to say no can be daunting. And sometimes conflict is avoided out of lack of experience and ignorance. Either way, just like instructors on the water, its seldom that the committee are the people that suffer the main consequence's. Trial and error isn't a valid strategy in scenario where the person experimenting is responsible for another persons safety. This puts clubs in a position where they can neither take pre-emptive or corrective actions and sometimes are complicit in unsafe behaviour.

This is why I believe that grade 3+ is beyond a club run by a student committee. All clubs and Universities have a duty of care, this can not be diluted with 'its part of the sport', especially when the facts are know. When it comes to the safety of people in your care 'good enough' isn't acceptable. When it comes to individuals paddling for themselves, you're over 18, I couldn't give a shit.

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Re: College Clubs and Whitewater

Post by conor_b » Sun Dec 12, 2010 4:37 pm

kmck wrote:You could run the weekend similar to varsities that it rotates around the country; limit the numbers from each club.
Would it be necessary to make another event for it? it could be possible to encorporate a rescue scenario event into the varsities. If anyone is familiar with Surf Lifesaving, in the pool competition theres a judged scenario in which a team have to deal with a scenario in a given time frame. none of the teams can see the set up before they actually confront it in the competition and then they are just given what ever points out of 100 say.

To adapt this for a varsity event it would be easy, except, i think, to fully test a college clubs safety the team for that event could be picked at random, out of a hat say, from the entire club's team to try and get a cross section of the clubs competency and not just the top 5 people who do it all for the club anyway.
have a scenario set up on a section of river thats suitable and have judges watch as they go about it.

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Seanie
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Re: College Clubs and Whitewater

Post by Seanie » Sun Dec 12, 2010 4:56 pm

conor_b wrote:
kmck wrote:You could run the weekend similar to varsities that it rotates around the country; limit the numbers from each club.
Would it be necessary to make another event for it? it could be possible to encorporate a rescue scenario event into the varsities. If anyone is familiar with Surf Lifesaving, in the pool competition theres a judged scenario in which a team have to deal with a scenario in a given time frame. none of the teams can see the set up before they actually confront it in the competition and then they are just given what ever points out of 100 say.

To adapt this for a varsity event it would be easy, except, i think, to fully test a college clubs safety the team for that event could be picked at random, out of a hat say, from the entire club's team to try and get a cross section of the clubs competency and not just the top 5 people who do it all for the club anyway. have a scenario set up on a section of river thats suitable and have judges watch as they go about it.
I really like this idea. But why have either or? could we have both? This event wouldn't address the lack of training on its own, a student safety weekend would be a welcome addition. And another good excuse to party, perhaps on the the colleges buck too ;) . Its called ass covering blackmail. The college almost has to cough up for the course, especially if it was backed by our NGO saying it was mandatory.

Currently there its planned to have part of the Varsities Capatins and Safety weekend dedicated to an ICU lead safety course. The idea being that it will target the key people in the club and they can disseminate their knowledge through out the club. I welcome it, but as I see it, the captains and safeties are on their way out, already being in the second half of their year and more than likely nearly finished college. Its the next crop that should be focused on.

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Re: College Clubs and Whitewater

Post by Ken » Sun Dec 12, 2010 9:53 pm

Interesting discussion.

I like the idea of a college safety weekend, but as mentioned by Seanie there is the issue that by the time varsities gets around its already late in the year. So maybe the solution should be to do it in Augusts or September, before anyone starts back so that it can be most useful. I'd also suggest that it shouldn't just be committee members that go to this. It should be the people who have progressed the most in the past year and should now be moving on to leading trips.

The other thing college clubs need to do is give (supervised) responsibility and guidance to progressing second years so that they can lead trips on their own in the following years. I find the biggest problem in clubs is the lack of people putting themselves forward to do safety cover on club trips; they need to be encouraged to do so. They mostly get the same people leading trips as lead them when they were fresher as when they were are in final year and leave college without ever stepping up or when the oldies eventually do stop doing college trips, they are put into a position that they are not up for. It's up to the people who are competently leading trips to ensure that the people who follow them will be up to the job. It doesn’t take a huge amount of experience or skill to do safety on most of the rivers run by college clubs, just a degree of competence and common sense which can be learnt within 2 years meaning that students can lead college trips.

I know when Benny did a presentation at the UCD captains’ weekend he outlined a structure as to how this could be attained.

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