I was recently tasked by the CEO of my workplace Dimmi to come up with a kayak-based activity for a National Conference we were holding in Manly. His instructions were clear – “Don’t make it some boring, gentle paddle… I want some excitement, I want action!”.
With 30 people to cater for with different strengths and weaknesses, this challenge seemed a little daunting. I enlisted the held of Benefit Active to organise boats and help with the activity planning, and between us we came up with a plan – a gentle paddle to start with for the whole team, followed by a game I’d been thinking up in my head which I’d unimaginatively called “Murder Ball”. The rules would be easy – two teams, an enclosed area, a ball that the teams had to compete for, and a target or goal.
The catch was the goal – I’d wear protective gear, a face-mask of death and roam around the arena as a moving target the teams had to tag!
The game started and the teams went crazy, chasing each other down and slowly coming to terms with the team-play required to keep the ball away from their opposition. Much like kayak-polo, the teams jostled for position whilst I roamed around the group, trying to keep myself mobile and away from the ball.
Meanwhile, as I circled the pack I’d move in close to the better paddlers and, when they weren’t looking, I’d slide past and flip up the edge of their kayaks, toppling them off their kayaks and into the water as I passed. Some of the other paddlers picked up the skill as well and before you knew it, there was a full scale battle going on not only to win the ball and try to tag me, but also to flip as many of the opposition as possible. The water churned as paddlers thrashed about and laughed loudly as they then fell about in the water. Small crowds were starting to form on the beach and look on at the fun spectacle unfolding before them.
Of course it wasn’t all plain sailing for me either. As the team s got better, they also got more organised and worked out how to round me up, and I started to get tagged hard by flying balls. Fortunately the helmet and padding bore most of the impact, but as the game went on I found myself almost in hand to hand combat as players held my boat back and before long, started trying to flip me into the water as well.
As the game got to around the 30 minute mark the combatants started to tire. Soon almost everyone was off their kayaks and swimming. With only the Fat Paddler left in his kayak, it looked like the game was at a stalemate. But the boss had called out “next shot wins the game” and with that, one of the players hatched a cunning and devious plan.. to lure the Fat Paddler in with cries for help. It worked of course, his whimpers for help answered as I came over to help him get back on his kayak when, from no more than two feet away, he rose up out of the water like an Olympic water polo player and smashed the ball into my face!
And with that his team had won. Everyone limped into shore, with grins on their faces and a few stories to tell. The CEO has got his “action-packed paddling activity”, and I had come away with a new and wonderful game to play in kayaks. Certainly, there are worse ways to start the day! Cheers, FP
A special shout out to Ben Stephens from Benefit Active for organising all the kayaks and for supplying the kayak crew to watch over everyone and ensure their safety was being looked after. Thanks also for the on-water photos!