Canoeing and Climbing Taster for Thames Valley Wing

On a very soggy Sunday in April, cadets and staff from across Thames Valley Wing took to the water and the wall at Adventure Dolphin in Pangbourne.

Despite the torrential rain, several cadets and staff made the trip to Adventure Dolphin in Pangbourne for a day of taster sessions in canoeing and climbing. Organised by FS Chris Harding (ATC), the cadets spent half the day learning some basic skills in a canoe on the river Thames, and the other half on the indoor climbing wall at the centre testing their climbing skills.

The artificial climbing wall offered the cadets a variety of different routes – from the quite straight forward, through to more demanding and taxing overhangs. Under the expert guidance and tuition of WO Ian Lowe, one of the Wing’s Single Pitch Award qualified instructors, the cadets took it in turns to climb the routes, whilst the rest of their team supported them – providing belaying, spotting for better handholds, or helping them plan their routes.

With the weather taking a turn for the worse over the weekend – leading to rising river levels on the River Thames, the paddlesport group moved to the quieter and more sheltered local backwaters for their taster session. After a safety briefing and warm up, the cadets took part in a 3 hour introduction to PaddleSport session under the supervision of FS Chris Harding, Fg Off Alex Pye & CI Ollie Holman. After successfully mastering the basic principles and techniques of moving their canoes, the cadets carried out a series of games to test their communication, coordination, balance and control skills – improving their confidence on the water, and their own abilities. The session provided an excellent safe and enjoyable learning environment, with all the cadets quickly developing the required skills!

Flying Officer Pye who was helping supervise on the river had this to say: “It was a great effort from all the squadrons today. Most people would have looked out of the window this morning and not bothered, but such is the team spirit and motivation amongst the cadets that they just saw it as a challenge”. Flight Sergeant Chris Harding added, “Despite the adverse weather conditions the Cadets and Staff put on a brave face and ventured out onto the water. The Cadets and Staff managed to get the BCU Paddlepower Start Award under their belts and we all had a great day.”