Bored at weekends? Wandering around the house aimlessly all day? Student Ambassador Sinead Mulroy explains why you should occupy your time by joining the UCD Canoe Club

Every Saturday of term time, UCD Canoe Club have their weekly River Trip. I had nothing better to be doing, and it sounded like a bit of fun, so I thought why not? I signed up to my first river trip with a burst of enthusiasm, which later on in the week waned and was replaced with nerves manifesting as inner crankiness at myself. I tried every trick in the book to convince myself I should stay at home – tiredness, pending college work, is that the flu?? Luckily, when the time came I had enough willpower to suck it up and get out of bed.

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We were told to meet at the boathouse at 10 am. Not knowing where the boathouse was, this posed a slight problem. Thankfully, being early on in the semester, there were plenty of other newbs such as myself who didn’t know UCD even had a boathouse, let alone it’s location. Turns out many of the outdoor adventure type clubs have a shed / locker / boathouse (depending on what club you were part of), tucked away discreetly on the farthest end of campus.

The group gathered at the shed, some old, some new. Everyone was really friendly and there were enough new people around that I didn’t feel too shy or embarrassed about having to ask where things went. We collected all necessary gear from the shed, of which, it turns out, there is a lot! Helmets, cags, life-jackets, spray decks – then boats and paddles or course! Everything was loaded into the trailer, and we bundled into the rented mini-bus to head for the river.

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When we arrived, it was cold and the water looked much faster than it had from a distance, but it was too late to turn back! The older club members had no shortage of weird songs and dances to get us moving. We hopped into the boats and scooched our way from the banks to the water. Those of us untrained were in groups with an instructor. They had us paddling back and forth for a bit to get used to the water, and soon it became easy enough to manoeuver your way around.

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To spice things up, after we’d gotten used to being in the boat on moving water, they brought us downstream a little way to where a weir was located. Of course, I didn’t actually know what a weir looked like, and all we could see from the top was the point where the water dropped off, so this seemed hugely intimidating. We each went down one at a time. The more experienced members were scattered around the top and bottom of the weir, for moral support and just in case anyone fell out. I managed to topple over on my way down, but it didn’t hurt and there were loads of people around to help out, so the greatest inconvenience was getting a bit wet!

After a few hours paddling down the weir then heaving the boats back up the banks, just to do it all over again, we called it quits for the day. We got changed back into dry clothing on the side of the road, and got back on the bus to UCD. On arrival at the boat shed, there was the mad scramble to get all the gear back in the shed, hanging up in their respective correct places, and lock up for the night. After that was a well-deserved long warm shower at home!

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