Monday was supposed to be bright sunshine. King's College Bryanston was bringing 60 grade 7's for a day of fun and adventure to Paddle Power. Instead I woke at 5.30 to the dreaded sound of rain on our thatch roof. Don't get me wrong. I love the rain and we need it to fill the river to make our river rafting more fun.
The drizzle slowed for a while, became a shower followed by drizzle and more showers.
Do we load the rafts and transport them to the launch site? Shall we set up the target shooting stations? Do I recommend that the school postpones? Will they want to come? My mood was as dark as the clouds.
Not only were the youngsters river rafting but we had a whole day planned for Crossbow, Archery and Paintball Target Shooting as well.
Extra Guides had been hired, equipment prepared and we were all looking forward to a day of fun. No ways were we going to postpone unless the school refused to join us. I dreaded answering my phone in case it was the teacher calling.
The bus was due to arrive at 08h30 and by 08h45 it still wasn't here. I reluctantly called the teacher. Whew! They were just 5 minutes away and were all as excited as us. The boys and girls tumbled out of the bus with backpacks, lunch boxes and ear-splitting happy noise. The teachers were oblivious and calmly greeted me. I doubt they even hear the noise anymore. The drizzle continued but no-one complained. The Paddle Power team breathed a sigh of relief as we watched the teachers separate their brood into teams. Any decisions and disputes on who was going to raft first or who was going to be in which team was settled by the age old Rock, Paper, Scissors game.
Time to kit up the first group of 30 rafters with jackets and helmets.
As they were about to be shepherded back up to the coach we realised that an extra 4 had joined the group. Rock, paper, scissors decided which 4 had to remove their kit and join the other group. Mild panic. The coach was no longer waiting at the top of the road. Breathe out! It was parked across the road at the fuel station. Mark and Bless our dedicated Paddle Power guides with assistance from Rocky and Louis, 2 very capable freelance guides were now in charge and I could relax.
Time for Rowan, the owner of Paddle Power to take charge of the remaining 30 youngsters. 3 activities, 30 learners and even my poor maths calculated that it would be 10 per team. Instead we had a group of 9, a group of 10 and a group of 11 and that is the way it was going to stay.
The 3 teams took turns at learning to handle a crossbow, with Rowan giving them a history lesson about this interesting weapon, Rene managed the Bows and Arrows and Ansa the paintball target shooting.
It continued to drizzle on and off but we were past caring.
The first group of rafters arrived back a couple of hours later, some had done the rock jump and all had had a good time.
Apparently a few spiders had hitched a ride in a couple of the boats and the size of these creatures grew with each telling ensuring that the 2nd group going rafting would be properly terrified. One of the girls who apparently has a very vivid imagination claimed she had seen a rope with clothes on the river bank and had concluded that someone had hanged themselves.
Amazingly she was the only one to have seen the rope and clothes.
Time for lunch. Everyone had brought their own packed lunches and drinks so it was a mad scramble for their bags as they were all starving. Hurray. The rain had stopped.
After lunch it was time for the changeover.
2 women Teachers joined the 2nd group for rafting and ssshhhh but they were the only ones to swim when they met Mr Full Stop Rock after 2nd weir. A loss of dignity but no injuries thank goodness.
We noticed that the group who had been rafting in the morning were considerably quieter as they did the target shooting.
Rafting is hard work.
By 4.30pm we were done and it was time for a lost property check in the ablutions, boatshed and the lunch area. Being a Mom and Grandmother I know well how easily clothes and lunch boxes are lost or "stolen".
A quick prize giving for the best target shooter and best team and we waved good bye as they headed up the hill to their bus.
I bet they all slept as well as we did on Monday night after a great day.
Kings College you can be proud of your teachers and really fun and well behaved youngsters.
We look forward to seeing you again. Thank you Mr Helliwell and your team.
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Photos supplied by Dave Pughe-Parry