Hubby Roger bought me kayaks for my birthday this year. It was love at first sight. Kayaking combines a lot of my favorite activities. I especially like exercise that masks itself as fun.
Roger was less than enamored. He doesn’t mind kayaking but he isn’t going to do it all the time. I quickly realized that I wasn’t always going to have another adult around who was available for kayak trips so I needed to be able to take the kids alone.
It scared me at first. It can be risky. Water levels rise, weather rolls in and rivers change quickly.
I didn’t want to give up my new favorite sport so I devised a plan to take the kids by myself. Here are my 5 tips on kayaking with kids:
1. Know your river.
I always scout the river before I take the kids. We have several rivers that are extremely shallow during most of the summer. They are located in populated areas and are fairly free of obstacles. The rivers flow well and really only take about an hour on the water.
2. Know your kids.
We started by taking the kayaks to our neighborhood swimming pool and then to the lake to let the kids experiment. Can you stand up in your kayak? How far can you lean over before you tip? How long does it take for your kayak to fill with water and sink? Can you use the bilge pump to soak your little brother? This build skills and confidence. It also lets you see which kids you can take alone and which kids will require backup.
3. Invest in a dry bag for your phone.
They make pouches for your phone that you can wear around your neck. The phone stays dry and you can dial without removing it from the pouch. Plus you can take pictures without having to worry about dropping the phone in the river.
4. Get good ground support.
I always shoot a responsible adult a text message when we put it. Then they know to come looking for us if we go all Gilligan’s Island. If I take your kids kayaking, I usually make you meet up with us at take out and drive us back to the truck so that we can load up the equipment.
Benjamin spent most of his early childhood in a bike trailer so when we got the kayaks it seemed only natural to purchase a small inflatable boat and tow it behind my kayak. He loves it. He gets a snack and a water gun and he’s good. I also tied lines onto the front of all the kayaks so that if an older child gets tired, I can tow him too. It adds to your workout, but you get used to it. My shining moment was when Thomas hooked another tired child to his boat and towed her.
The kids are becoming great paddlers. They get stronger and more confident with each trip. We do a lot of trial and error on the river and each paddle is a new adventure. So yak up and get out there.
Have any questions about kayaking with kids or how to even get started? Leave me a comment – I’d love to help!