Cooper is one of the footy boys. When his former-rugby-champion grandfather dies, Cooper has trouble dealing with it. To make matters worse, the funeral falls on the first day of the Year Five camp at Thunder Canyon. Not only does Cooper miss out on the bus trip to camp with his friends Jeff, Dan, Fadi, but when finally he arrives there he's missed out on abseiling, the activity he was most looking forward to; missed sharing a cabin with his friends; and he can't even sit with them in the dining room, or on the bus to the following day's kayaking lesson.
In order to restore his life to what it was, and to win back the respect of his sporty friends, Cooper disobeys a kayak instructor’s directives and puts both his life, and that of his paddle-buddy Lily Ng, in serious danger on the white waters of Thunder River.