“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” ~ T. S. Eliot
“You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” ~ Andre Gide
We headed back to the Sailing and Yacht club for some paddleboarding and kayaking games. For a novice paddleboarder standing up had to the be the hardest part of the this activity. Once up everything seemed to go well. That was until the teachers decided you were not wet enough and would tip the board over. Students would get their own back and it all turned out to be a very enjoyable end to an adventurous and exciting week.
Adventure = an unusual or exciting experience with an unknown outcome.
It is only when faced with challenges through taking part in adventures that we find out what we are truly capable of.
Staying close to home we arrived at the Abu Dhabi Sailing and Yacht Club a little earlier than the instructors. That only gave us time to contemplate what the day was going to hold and reflect on a few of the activities that we had done so far. We split into 3 groups and were challenged with sailing 3 different types of boats. These were the Pico, Catamaran and Keelboats. Mr Horsburgh seemed to be in his element when he was out on the water teaching students how to sail a catamaran. Remembering to switch sides when you turned the boat was proving a challenge for some students, the boom almost knocking a few overboard and we all had the pleasure of watching Ahmed Haweel and Ahmed Jabour capsizing their pico. A brilliant day taking part in a UAE tradition, showing students there are things to do here that do not require a joypad.
The adventure began early. 7:30am everyone arrived at school to pack on to a bus and head to Al Ain for a day at wadi adventure. Grabbing a body board, we headed into the man-made surf pool. With waves of up to three metres this was no way going to be an easy ride for the feint hearted. Again not one person stayed out of the water, everyone was eager to catch the wave early and try and ride it all the way in to the rough edges of the shore. A few people made it and had a few bumps and grazes as trophies of their skills on the board. We were all treated to a demonstration of Mr El Gomri’s surfing skills. Everyone’s eyes were focused as the wave was released. Everyone tense and afraid to blink as Mr El Gomri got up on the board, if you did blink you would have missed it. Better luck next time Mr El Gomri.
Not long after the surf pool we were sat in a safety briefing room waiting to head out with our white water rafts. In the static pool we learned the commands and techniques before facing the rapids. With the expert Nepalese instructors at the helm, we were soon heading down the rapids forwards, backwards and sideways, before turning the boat back into the water to fill the boat and completely drench everyone inside. It’s a difficult thing to laugh with a mouth full of water, as many of our students found out. After this we headed to the air park, a number of obstacles and problems that were suspended in the air was all that was needed to start some knees shaking nervously. This is where some people were way out of their comfort zone, but still everyone had the courage to go through all the obstacles. A tired ride home to Al Bateen signified a successful day.
Day two we headed to a launch point near the eastern mangroves hotel for a kayaking trip around the mangroves. The wind was up and waves were choppy, this made a difficult paddle out to the mangroves but everyone got there, some who had clicked on how to paddle faster than others. Using some muscles students didn’t know they had (and some teachers) we made it out to the mangroves and stopped on a short shoreline for a rest and a swim. Small crab holes littered the beach area and everyone was given the choice to carry on or stop and have a rest. Everyone decided they wanted more adventure and headed further into the mangroves. The trees closed in and the water became shallow and everyone had to alter their paddling strokes to navigate through the small water streets of the mangroves. A long paddle against the wind back to the launch area and the trip was over. Not before a few people had fallen in the water. A trip with no one capsizing, where is the fun in that? After this we headed to the beach for some well earned fun playing beach games and flying kites.
Starting at school we were in the swimming pool to learn about lifesaving and personal survival; vital skills will stay with students after they leave school. That was the start of what was to be an adventurous and exciting week. One of the aims of the week was to show students alternative activities that they could take part in and around the UAE as part of a healthy active lifestyle. Activities that we hope they would be enthusiastic about and want to carry on after the week and school had ended.
After school we headed to Al Forsan International Sports Resort for some alternative activities. The first was paintballing. Obviously not a watersport, however we used this as an introduction to push students out of their comfort zone, to do things they had never done before. When you are out of your comfort zone, you realise what challenges you and more importantly how to overcome these challenges. After this we headed over to the wakeboarding pools; there was not one person who did not have the courage to have a go at this sport, even if they were not the best of swimmers or they had not done it before. Everyone finished the day very proud of themselves and ready to enjoy the next day and what challenges awaited them.