We often hear it said in paddlesport that every day’s a school day and have to agree it is. Whenever I meet a group of paddlers I take something away from the experience. I was helping one of my local centres with canoeing and kayaking sessions for children from a local primary school last month. My fellow coaches were people I know and have worked with frequently over the years but even these were able to surprise me with a new game, or at least a new take on an old one.
We’d just played the popular ‘Sharks and Minnows’. It’s always great to see young paddlers chasing each other pretending to be Great White sharks and making menacing noises as in Jaws – even though many may never have seen this now classic film.
As the game closed one of the coaches asked the last minnow to stay in the middle of the playing area and sent the others to one side. This, the coach declared was their safe space where they were no longer sharks, but flies. There was another safe space on the opposite side of the playing area and the flies’ task was to reach that other side without being caught by the bullfrog sitting on their lily pad in the middle. To catch a fly all the bullfrog needed to do was reach out with their long tongue (paddle) and tap the front of the fly’s boat. Once caught the flies became bullfrogs and I’m sure you can guess the rest.
Such a simple twist on the old playground the game of British Bulldog but one that caught the young paddlers’ imaginations – and, as you can see, mine as well. ‘Bullfrog’ has now been added to my coaching tool box!