The students have been itching to go canoeing out on the lakes around campus. It’s no wonder! The lakes have looked very inviting since the ice came off earlier this spring, and Conserve owns both canoes and kayaks that the students can borrow to explore Big Donahue Lake. Despite the appealing look of the lakes, the water is still quite cold (only a few degrees above freezing!). Before students can use Conserve’s boats, they must take a swim test and be able to safely and efficiently preform a T-rescue. A T-rescue is a maneuver in which a righted canoe helps to right and drain the water out of a canoe that has been submerged. The procedure usually takes about 10 minutes, and occupants of the submerged canoe stay in the water for most of that time. We didn’t want to subject the students to the frigid water of Big Donahue (unless absolutely necessary), so teaching T-rescues required a little bit of creative problem solving. The solution: find warmer water. How to you find warmer water? Well, you head south, or in this case southwest to the Lakeland High School pool in Minocqua.
At the pool students helped to unload 4 canoes from the trailer and to bring them into the pool area. The swim test was first. During the test students were asked to swim one length of the pool and then swim back on their backs. Then they were asked to tread water in the deep end of the pool for 3 minutes. This test is very helpful for Conserve School instructors because it gives them an idea of the swimming abilities of each student. All students must wear a life jacket while canoeing and kayaking. After the swim test 4 students volunteered to demonstrate the T-rescue while field instructors Amy and Dylan explained the process. Then the students each had the opportunity to practice being both the rescuer and rescued during a T-rescue. The teamwork and communication skills that the students demonstrated during this experience have helped to get the Field Instruction canoeing unit off to a great start!
~ Graduate Fellow Heather