Kayaking with Kids – A Practical Guide to Kayaks, Gear & Having Fun

There are not many sports as versatile and exciting as kayaking. Something about moving through the open waters with the wind in your hair and the sun at your back is so appealing to so many people. Not only is kayaking a great, low-impact work-out, but it allows the kayaker the ability to get away into the outdoors, observing nature at her most majestic.

Parenting is an exciting experience, and just because you become a dad or mom does not mean you have to store the boats. Kayaking can be an exhilarating family experience. With some consideration, planning and organization, kayaking can become a regular family affair. Be aware that kayaking still occurs on the water and that you should always remain cautious and have superior experience kayaking before taking a small child to the water. Kayaking should be a fun experience, and safety should always be a number one priority.
The rule of thumb is to plan for one adult for every child. Remember, paddling a kayak is fun, but may prove tiring for little arms. Be ready to take over the brunt of the work and allow for little muscles to rest up before re-engaging in the paddling adventure.

For beginning kayakers, finding an area where the water is calm and there is nominal current is key. Begin your trips on smaller lakes, and slow moving rivers until your little kayakers begin to build up some experience and are able to improve their paddling abilities. Choose areas that are familiar to you, and that contain kid friendly conditions. Be aware of the current, any tides and boating activity that may be nearby and plan for these surprises. Make sure that while your destination is familiar, that is contains lots of variety, scenery and interesting focal points for small eyes. Children will love to scope out their surroundings as they paddle through the moving water! Make sure to plan for bathroom breaks and meal stops. Kids tend to have hearty appetites and it will be important to keep them properly hydrated as they paddle.

Remember that you have beginning kayakers in your presence! Be aware of how long your trip is scheduled for. For older children, the length of your kayaking trip can be extended, but bear in mind the special needs or comfort levels of smaller children. Plan shorter loops around the water, taking time for snacks, water, and potty breaks. For younger children, plan on taking the trip about one-third of what you might normally do with older children or adult partners.

One of the most important aspects of kayaking with the family is to introduce kayaking before your trip. Practice on dry land, showing children how to get in and out of the kayaks, and showing them basic paddling technique. Al this will pay off when you push the boat into the water and begin your journey.

The day of the big kayaking adventure has arrived! The waters are cooler and you have decided on a deck kayak. Have your child sit in the bow of the kayak or in the center between two adults; one at the bow of the kayak and the most experienced kayaker at the rear. Riding in the boat’s center is known as doffing and is a great place for young, inexperienced paddlers to earn their sea wings. They are not actually propelling the boat, but they are learning how to properly handle and move a paddle through the resistance of the water. Kayak paddles come in a variety of sizes for children. For younger children, look for a paddle that is 200 centimeters long with a narrow shaft that makes gripping with smaller hands a little easier.

Safety is the most important element of fun, family kayaking. Always have personal floatation devices available for every kayaking member. For smaller children, be sure the floatation vest has a secure crotch strap to make ensure the vest is securely attached to your child. Also, remember sun screen. Even if you are attempting to kayak and the weather is overcast or the sun is not as visible, slather on the protection cream. Nothing will ruin a day of kayaking quicker than getting a painful sunburn.

Kayaking can be one of the most amazing family traditions you form. Nothing can be better than skimming over the surface of a beautifully placid lake while looking at the trees, flowers and other plants littering the shorelines; catching a glimpse of a white tailed deer getting her afternoon lunch, or watching the orange and pink hues of the sun disappear over the towering peaks. Combine this experience with the joys that come with spending time with family and you have the perfect afternoon. So, load up, climb in and let the family kayaking begin!