Mucking in at Family Camp

On Saturday 23rd April Blackwater Valley Canoe Club once again decamped from the Lido, over to Garner’s Field Campsite to support the Farnham Scouts family camp.

Each year the Farnham District Scouts hold their Family Camp where all the Scouts, and their families, from the Farnham District can enjoy a weekend of fun activities. In what has become a long standing tradition a team of volunteers from BVCC support the camp by running a day of kayaking taster sessions, free for anyone at the camp to attend.

After being cancelled for two years due to the pandemic, Family Camp along with BVCC’s kayaking activity, was back and bigger than ever. BVCC’s work began on the Thursday (the first day of the camp) with a group of volunteers transporting 26 kayaks & paddles; along with paddling kit and various other equipment, to the campsite. Then early on Saturday morning a team of 12 BVCC volunteers descended on the campsite to setup for the day’s activities. After laying out our boats and equipment on the bank it was time for some of us to don the drysuits and go for a refreshing dip in the River Wey, in order to set up the demarcation lines and prepare for the first session.

While our volunteers in the water were getting setup an equally dedicated team was busy on the bank getting scouts signed up for sessions and fitted with buoyancy aids / helmets. The club’s volunteers were grateful to receive continual support from a steady stream of Explorer / Network Scouts and parent helpers (some of who were also club members) throughout the day.

The first session was soon underway; after getting their BAs and helmets checked the scouts were shown to their boats where they received a quick safety brief and introduction. With that out the way the session began for each participant with a slide down the bank and into the river. From there our volunteers in the river had the task of providing coaching & advice to those with little to no prior experience of kayaking, as well as ensuring everyone was kept safe on the water.

There was little respite for our volunteers on the bank between sessions, once one group was on the water the focus soon moved to getting the next group ready, then on to hauling the boats back out the river at the end of the session.

This process repeated throughout the day with our volunteers running a total of 12 half hour long sessions. The kayaking activity was so popular that all the day’s spaces were fully booked within about an hour of the first session starting. After discussion with the volunteering team it was decided to increase the number of participants per session slightly and these spaces too were rapidly booked up. In all about 270 scouts and family members took part in BVCCs kayaking taster sessions. For the volunteers it was hard work, but also a very fun and rewarding day.

BVCC would like to thank all the club volunteers who helped run the day, along with all those from the Scouting community who came to support our volunteers throughout the day, both in the water and on the bank.