View topic - Death inAlgonquin Park

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PostPosted: July 9th, 2017, 4:16 pm 
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One of the key things I teach my Scouts is - the further away you are from a hospital, the more cautious you have to be.

Regularly on any outing we do I stop and ask them how far they think we are away from a hospital. Then we work it all through to see who is right. Our meeting hall is only a 15 minute walk from a hospital so I always use that as a point of reference and point out that we can horse around a lot more there, than we do on our various outings.

Sometimes when we are on a back country trip we could be a couple of days from a hospital.

3 years ago we had a Scout cut his finger pretty badly on the first day of a 5 day back country trip, but luckily when we were still at the vehicles. It was a 2 hour drive to the hospital which was another 2 hours from Ottawa. We had his parents meet us there and he did not go on the trip. But ever since then we have put further restrictions on knife usage on our back country trips. Even though that boy had earned his knife permit and had demonstrated many times he knew how to use one, he still cut himself pretty badly.


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PostPosted: July 9th, 2017, 5:08 pm 
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I only let the kids who have been in the club for three years carry a knife. This is a recent policy change, based on kids acting irresponsibly with knives. It's odd, in the 26 years I have been taking students out, it was only in the last three years that I needed to change the policy. Not sure if it is just coincidence, or a sign of changing times.


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PostPosted: July 10th, 2017, 6:07 am 
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My admiration of those who take kids out on such trips, in full knowledge that such things can happen despite their best efforts.

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PostPosted: July 10th, 2017, 12:49 pm 
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We were on White Trout when this was going on, we saw the helicopter flying around and I recall saying to my wife oh, there's a helicopter, thats never good. The next day we moved on to big trout and I pointed out the float plane taking off to my 4 year old who was with us... upon getting cell phone reception and catching up with the news on the way home we figured out what happened, needless to say my heart sank. I feel terrible for the students and supervisors on this trip, I'm sure this won't be leaving them for a long time and Im guessing the supervisors will have some tough questions to answer. We left from access point 3 and were out 6 days, in that time we saw a bunch of youth groups, not one single adult in the bunch, in fact we saw only saw one couple who seemed competent the whole time we were out.. I saw rental canoes being literally dragged down the portages, I saw others paddling on the same side until the canoe was so grossly off course that they would both change sides and paddle on the other side until the were off course the other way lol. not to make light of whats happened, it certainly gave me pause, especially taking the risk of bringing a child so young out but honestly I'm shocked that tragedies like this aren't a normal occurrence, the fact that they are relatively uncommon makes me feel more confident about going out and making canoe tripping a family event.


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PostPosted: July 11th, 2017, 8:09 am 
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Allan Jacobs wrote:
My admiration of those who take kids out on such trips, in full knowledge that such things can happen despite their best efforts.


Well said Allan.

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PostPosted: July 14th, 2017, 8:43 pm 
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I am against trying to have the school system replace proper parenting. The teachers are not the kid's parents. If children who's parents give up their role and responsibility as parents become the victims of natural selection, so be it.

I am also against making everybody wear life jackets when swimming. Those who are prepared to give up their freedom for security deserve neither. He who calls the tune pays the piper; you make the call (or let your kids make the call if they are old enough) to wear the life jacket or not, and pay the price as needs be. It's called personal responsibility and the opposite of the pandemic disease of shift the blame elsewhere now so popular.

Good article on drowning does not look like drowning, but I imagine the life guard present was properly trained, knows what drowning looks like, and was doing his counts. Pobody's nerfect. I'm glad I'm not that lifeguard; he has my sympathy.

I agree it would be nice to know the details, so we might learn something.


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PostPosted: July 15th, 2017, 2:45 pm 
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You might sing a different tune if you were the one responsible for those kids and one of them died on your watch. That's not something you just shrug off in the name of personal freedom or some other theoretical crap.


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PostPosted: July 15th, 2017, 3:54 pm 
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Its not a matter of parenting, its a matter of necessary life skills. Parents may have primary responsibility but where is the moveable line between them and society at large? Once upon a time schools only did 3-R's. Now its more. Lets just not get into that.

Swimming is a life skill, IMHO, but not as critical as for example typing (pardon: keyboarding) in the 21st century - even though one of those can save your life some day if you are around water. As times change so will needs. How many provincial governments will put up the money for the school system to teach swimming? It would be nice but is it going to happen?

As for what drowning is like, canoeists can think about the one or another time (most of us) got dumped into a river and wound up gasping for breath because of the shock and cold, even if we were (mostly) dressed for it. Yup. We don't communicate very well then and our PFDs give us the couple of seconds we need to recover our wits if not our ability to breathe freely or to speak. If we weren't already conditioned and capable, how would we respond? In similar situations (at least relative to skills and preparedness) it is no wonder that youths can suddenly drown.

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PostPosted: July 15th, 2017, 4:17 pm 
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RHaslam wrote:
You might sing a different tune if you were the one responsible for those kids and one of them died on your watch. That's not something you just shrug off in the name of personal freedom or some other theoretical crap.

It's true, talk is cheap, but I would stick to my guns; if I were leading a canoe trip I would not be in favour of forced life jacket wearing for swimming. If someone drowned on one of my trips, I would not just shrug it off; it would bother me greatly. I still choose freedom over over-protection. I am willing to pay the price for freedom. It's not just theoretical; it's life.


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PostPosted: July 16th, 2017, 6:33 am 
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Let me rephrase Rob's comment.
Empathy should come before judgement.

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PostPosted: July 16th, 2017, 10:55 am 
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Ghost, I don't enforce anything on my private trips with adults. They can do whatever they want. But when I'm in charge of 20 students, it's a different tune. According to OPHEA guidelines there are are a multitude of things we "can't" do, which we often might end up doing, based on my judgement. However, swimming is one of those things that has always bothered me, and kids will be kids, they will always push the boundaries.

In my opinion, there is a far greater chance of a kid drowning while swimming than there is in a canoe. So I'm going to make a policy change, I should have dome it years ago, it's really unfortunate that a death had to prod me to make it.

In the end, many parents place their faith in me to provide their kids with a safe experience, and I do my best to make sure their kids return in one piece. These kids see parts of Canada that many people only dream of. They learn paddling, camping and portaging skills, and along the way they develop an life long appreciation of the wilderness. Asking them to wear their life jackets for five minutes every other day when they have a swim after chores is a pretty small ask.

I can almost guarantee none the parents will object.


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PostPosted: July 16th, 2017, 1:11 pm 
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Maybe survey the parents before the trip?

I was (my kids are adults now) OK with my kids not having to wear a life jacket (or pfd) when swimming on school outings (including camping trips to Algonquin Park). I was also OK with supervising kids on camping trips swimming without life Jackets, despite the extra burden on me having to watch them.

I haven't supervised other folk's children camping (or swimming) for a few decades now. You folks who still do it have my sympathy and admiration.


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PostPosted: August 17th, 2017, 5:53 am 
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Here's an idea. Instead of making good strong swimmers wear life jackets when they go for a swim, how about having campers pass a swimming test before they are allowed to go on a canoe trip?


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PostPosted: August 17th, 2017, 8:54 am 
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As part of the OPHEA guidelines, they all take a swim test every year before a trip. I believe the participants in the Algonkian Park trip completed their swim tests. We conduct ours in a pool, twice a year. Kids who don't make the minimum standards set by the test don't go.

However, within the successful participants, there is a wide range of swimming abilities, ranging from life guards to dog paddlers. It will be a lot more comforting to just make everyone wear a life jacket instead of working on some kind of sorting basis.


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PostPosted: August 17th, 2017, 9:41 am 
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I heard a cbc radio report on this yesterday. Sounded like 15 of 33 kids on the trip didn't pass the swim test. The school board insisted for weeks all participants on the trip passed or wouldn't have gone. A gap in the say versus do there.


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