Islington Boat Club is a water-based activity centre providing training courses, an active youth programme and schools tuition for nine to 19-year-olds. This summer the boat club, which received a grant from The Arsenal Foundation, took teenagers to Lee Valley White Water Centre. Fifteen-year-old Maya Kember recalls her experience...
“I felt very lucky to have been chosen for this trip – it was an experience of a lifetime. Thirteen of us went to Lee Valley and we prepared ourselves for an hour as we watched as the Legacy course fill up. I have to admit it didn’t look all that challenging – until I was on the way up the moving conveyer belt...
“The water was faster than I expected and I hit one of the dreaded ‘stoppers’. Waves dragged me further down the course on my side before someone threw me a line so I could be pulled to dry land. It was fierce but the anxiety hadn’t kicked in – yet.
“Already I was feeling pumped and ready to go again. I took the advice of leaning forward on coming into a stopper and paddling hard. Even though I was going downstream, I needed to power through the stoppers and stay straight, which was difficult because when you touch a stopper your boat leans to one side. But I made it through most of the course before I came across a stranded boat. It drifted ahead of me, turned me onto my side and... I capsized.
“That wasn’t completely unpredictable, but I was gutted I couldn’t make it to the end of the course. Still, the experience of managing to go past the stoppers was great – the adrenaline was pumping as I got further and further away from my comfort zone. As I got out of the water, I’m pretty sure I was grinning like an idiot, sopping wet from head to toe.
“While other people grew less scared of the course over the two hours, strangely, I grew more so. Maybe it was because I spent longer out of my boat than in it over the three or four times that I attempted the course!
“Islington Boat Club is a great place and, without having stumbled on it, I wouldn’t have made new friends or gained a new hobby. The experience this summer was amazing and I fully enjoyed every second of it.”