Canoe Travel and Rescue Skills
Rebecca Rand, Outdoor Skills Teacher

In Outdoor Skills we introduce students to challenging outdoor activities, designed to increase students comfort in the outdoors, introduce them to life-long outdoor pursuits, and provide them with opportunities to enjoy the beauty and wonder of the natural world. On a sunny afternoon, students were introduced to canoe travel and rescue skills. They paddled across the waters of Big Donahue Lake and arrived at the shores of Sunset Point. Here, students learned how to portage which involves putting a canoe on their shoulders and carry it over head. This is not an easy task, it requires teamwork and communication. 

Students portaged their boats to another lake on campus, Little Donahue Lake. Here we explained how to perform a canoe rescue know as a “t-rescue.” Although the water was cold, students joyfully (and perhaps nervously) tipped their boats. Once they were in the lake they worked with another boat team to perform a rescue.

To perform a t-rescue, first students paddled the rescue canoe alongside the capsized canoe. In the water, students pushed one end of the canoe down into the water while students in the rescue boat hoisted it up onto their canoe. Once all the water was drained out of the boat students rolled the capsized canoe upright and pushed the boat back into the water. Finally, the rescuers stabilized the canoe and swimmers climbed back aboard. By the end of class, all the boats were rescued and many high-fives were exchanged! 

In Outdoor Skills class we strive to create a classroom where learning is supported by both instructors and students. During our T-Rescue lesson, I witnessed and was impressed with students providing great support to their classmates. Many students stepped out of their “comfort zone” and into their “challenge zone” during this activity. They were able to do this in part thanks to the support and encouragement they showed each other. As an educator, observing students be open and vulnerable in the classroom in a way in which allows them to grow is a powerful thing.

Watch the CS17 T-Rescue video here:

https://youtu.be/0xCcoX4pHm0