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Year 10 PASS - shaken, not stirred

Our Year 10 PASS students lived out their Olympic dreams on Wednesday, with an excursion to Penrith Whitewater Stadium, competition venue for the canoe/kayak slalom events at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

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The excursion provided practical application and insights about risk management, as well as leisure and recreation concepts that the students have been studying as part of the PASS course over the past two years.

Located at the foot of the Blue Mountains, Penrith Whitewater Stadium is the only man-made river of its kind in the southern hemisphere. Its course has been constructed to recreate the characteristics of a wild river, with over 14,000 litres per second of raging white water flowing around a moveable obstacle system. The course is full of drops, holes, eddies and seriously fast white water, making it a challenging ride even for the world’s best paddlers, so imagine trying to take it on as a complete beginner!

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Along with Head of PDHPE, Ms Bauer, and PDHPE Teachers, Ms McFetridge, Ms Grün and Mr Gasparinatos, - and under the friendly guidance of Penrith Whitewater Stadium’s highly trained river guides - our Year 10 PASS students were up for an adventure. Yes, they got soaked from head to foot. Yes, they can now imagine what it would be like to be trapped inside a washing machine. And yes, some of them saw their lives flash before their eyes at times when they fell out. But at least they now understand why so many people seek out the extreme thrills of white-water rafting. And they certainly understand a lot more about risk management!

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The worst bit about the day - apparently - was the safety briefing, when the instructors listed all the things that could go wrong. And the best bit? When things went wrong, and students risked a serious dunking. It was “exhilarating” apparently!

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For some students, it was disorientating to have no sense of up or down in the rapidly moving water. Others found it hard to be battered by wall after wall of water. And others discovered that you don't go over white water when you fall out, even wearing a buoyancy aid, you go through it.

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Whitewater rafting offers a decent cardio workout that requires upper body and core strength. But it’s also an exciting team bonding exercise. As the students discovered, there were real consequences if they didn’t step up to the task. Perched on the side of their inflatable boat with only an oar to help them, they all had to pull their weight and put their trust in each other as they dropped down what seemed like an endless succession of ridges and were blasted by an infinite number of giant waves.

This was an action-packed introduction to white-water rafting. And while our Year 10 PASS students, were shaken at times, they were definitely NOT stirred!