As the wise philosopher Saint Augustine once noted, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” Visiting sites, towns, and locales outside of one’s own horizons opens wide a fresh door to one’s mind. Travel may be a considerable concept of luxury, but seeing other places outside of one’s home is an investment-worthy venture for families everywhere. Those who don’t experience life from a different perspective lose out on eye-opening, educational happenstances.
That being said, you don’t have to go far to get off the couch and explore uncharted territories. Life is an everyday adventure, and the moments you share with loved ones are memories that capture the true spirit of joy, perspective, and possibility. These moments are often found in the great outdoors. As a parent, how can you build up a foundation of lifelong outdoor recreation for your children? How can you give them a hands-on experience of adventure, curiosity, and exploration? Conquering the waters of the world on small watercraft is a wonderful opportunity for people of all ages.
Steering a boat, kayak, or canoe through previously unexplored waterways provides a thrilling outdoor adventure. However, if you’re heading out on the waters with kids, you definitely need some preparation and foresight. A paddling venture can become miserable or dangerous without key considerations beforehand. Let’s take a closer look at a few helpful tips and tricks for canoeing with kids. Here are the best methods and practices for making the utmost out of the experience.
Before Departure: Prep Your Supplies and Practice Safety
Safety comes first, always. Before departing on your wayfaring water adventure, you need to consider practical matters. The children’s safety is the number one priority and responsibility. Be sure to establish clear safety rules and guidelines to set up good habits. Prime examples include not standing up in the boat, not leaning too far forward, backward, or sideways, not jumping over the side, not whining, etc. Keep seating arrangements in mind as well. Smaller kids should be within an arm's reach of adults.
Safety supplies and equipment are next on the list. Regardless of age or swimming ability, properly fitting life jackets—personal floatation devices—are a must-have at all times. Take on board a stocked first-aid kit in case of the unexpected. Don’t forget about sun protection either: the right clothes and accessories can make or break a trip. Check the weather forecast prior and bring along sunscreen, hats, layers, and an ample amount of snacks and water. Dehydration is dangerous—and no one desires unhappy hangry conditions.
Keep Scheduling in Mind: Choose Optimal Length and Location
Where do you plan on going canoeing? What time of day are you heading out? The answers to these questions are paramount to reduce stress levels and build up confidence for novice-level paddlers. You’ll need to take your time with any place you choose to avoid hitting yourself repeatedly with a paddle. Calm, windless water with minimal currents is ideal for canoeing with kids. Kid-friendly areas that offer variety and fascinating scenery—and the ability to stay closer to the shoreline—are the top choices.
Consider the length of the trip as well. The older the kids, the more time you can spend with them out on the water. Younger kids aren’t up for miles and miles of paddling. Be cognizant of your child’s age, strength, and coordination. Each paddle is a new adventure, but you’re the one who can make it most opportune.
Personalize the Trip: Cater To Their Preferences
A plan is only half the battle of a successful ride. When planning the route, consider a variety of ways that you can personalize a canoe trip to everyone’s interests. A low-stress, fun-filled experience is possible with a little consideration beforehand to ensure it meets your family’s needs and interests. Designate certain tasks and roles appropriate to their age and ability. Letting the kids know their appointed spots or “jobs” can help manage expectations along the way.
For young ones, think ahead of games that can keep everyone engaged with their surroundings, such as I Spy. Or, bring along binoculars for older kids to use to view the scenery or look for landmarks. A phone playing motivating music can spark greater imagination and excitement in the outdoor adventure. The magic rule is to keep it fun.
Crew, Not Cargo: Let Everybody Contribute
Remember that each individual is a crew member and not a piece of cargo. Involving them in the process is one of the most helpful tips and tricks for canoeing with kids. Kids are not just along for the ride, but should feel like valuable members of the paddling team. That being said, do evaluate their skills before handing over any paddle. Can they follow directions? Are their stokes steady? When they are big enough, equipping them with their own kid-sized paddles works wonders. When they’re still young, collapsible paddles you can tether to the boat are suitable options.
Be Ready for a Challenge: Keep the Mood Upbeat
Not everything is as it seems. Canoeing may seem like a fun, relaxing activity in the movies or on TV shows, but the reality is that it presents a trial-and-error lesson until everyone learns the ropes. Water is heavier than it appears on the surface. Be sure to ease up on expectations—paddling requires a steady amount of effort and physical exertion. Depending on everyone’s experience levels, adults should be prepared to take regular breaks or even take over the majority of the paddling.
Don’t be discouraged. Just remember that everything gets easier with time. Aside from keeping the mood upbeat, you can try out other alternatives—such as motorizing your canoe. A motor is essentially an accessory to support your efforts and further your movement. Tacking on an outboard motor takes your watercraft to the next level. With greater steering capability and control, you can prevent potential problems and risks while on the water with younger kids. Not to mention, you can reduce strain from paddling—you have a reliable built-in assistant at your fingertips.
For a high-quality canoe outboard motor, you can surely rely on Bixpy’s J-2 Motor. Our lightweight battery-powered motor for small watercraft is a platform that opens the door to endless applications. There’s never a wrong way to enjoy the sights, sounds, and sensations of the water. Streamlined, whisper-quiet, and profoundly efficient, this water propulsion system is safe to use around wildlife, swimmers, and kids alike. Paddle on!