Surviving your first Uni Club trip is all about preparation.

Firstly do you have the right kit and/or access to the right kit? If not get the very basics sorted. It’s going to be a miserable trip if you get really cold. Make sure you have a dry set of kit to get changed into at the end of the trip, something nice and warm is always a great idea and include a hat. A large beach towel is good bit of kit to get hold of. You’ll need to put this kit into something and also be able to carry your wet kit home with you. Ikea bags and plastic “bags for life” are superb for this job.

Double check you have everything with you before you leave the house/halls. There is only one thing worse then getting to the mini bus and realising that you have forgotten something critical and that is getting off the bus at the start of the paddle and realising that you have forgotten something critical.

Secondly make sure that you are at the meeting place (this is often the boat shed) within good time. This sounds really patronising but as there will be a load of people to get together and get sorted – the faff factor will increase exponentially. Jobs that would take a few minutes take an age. Get stuck in and help get kit together and tied on to racks/trailers.

The chances are the first trip will take place at a weekend and you would have been out the night before. It will probably be freshers week after all. Try and take it easy the night before a club paddle. A long ride in a Uni minibus and a heavy night before don’t mix very well, especially if you are sat over the rear axle. If you can’t take it steady try to get plenty of fluid into you along with something to eat. Depending on where the trip is and the number of swimmers and recoveries required could mean that the day could be a very long one. Being hungover and having to stay bank-side isn’t good.

Once at the destination get stuck in again and get the kit unpacked and off the rack/trailer. Get changed quickly, this will help prevent you getting too cold. The faff factor will again be in play at this point and keeping warm (depending on location and weather) is a great idea. Make sure that you are ready and around to listen to any briefing that takes place. Signals, what to do in case of a capsize or swim will be the kinds of things that will be talked through. If they aren’t and you are unsure – ask.

When you get back to the bus someone may mention Bootie Beer. Don’t worry that it’s something to do with a lager enema. It is much worse! In the event of a swim the offending kayaker will have to perform the Bootie Beer ritual at the end of the trip. This involves drinking a can of alcoholic beverage from one of the shoes you were wearing during your swim. You will be told that this is to appease the kayaking gods and that it resets the space time continuum. It’s all lies, it’s just funny. Depending on the drink involved it may actually taste much better from your shoe than from a glass. You might get lucky.

Good Luck!