Canoeing, Techniques & Advice

Paddling with Kids! Fun, Easy Tips!

June 25, 2009

We have concluded our river-a-week series for the year. There are an infinite number of rivers,  too many to discuss, so we may have to venture back to rivers next spring.  For now, it’s time to move on!

This is a favorite subject for me! Paddling with my family is one of my favorite pastimes. With a few helpful tips, I have learned it can be an enjoyable experience for all.  First off, you have to make sure your child has ample water and food. I pack a waterproof bag with items just for him that I carabiner to the side of the canoe for easy access.

In the bag, I put a few small toys he can play with in the canoe when bored. I also place some snacks and candies just for him.  He loves looking in the bag to pull out his next surprise. We also play a lot of “I Spy” games, 20 Questions, and other fun games to pass the time.  Another important factor is to pack enough clothes that they are comfortable in all situations. Pack long underwear, swimsuit, rain gear, and a change of dry clothes. One fun thing to pack has been an umbrella! The smaller the better. He has used the umbrella as a fort, sun shelter, rain shelter and the most fun, a sail! Binocularsare also a hit. Kids love to spy all kinds of wildlife.

We also bought a kids sized paddle so they can feel like they are helping out and to train them to take over some day. Make sure you stop a few times a day on your journey so your child can run around, burn off some energy, and stretch their legs.

One other tip to keep them interested, is to provide them with there OWN set of maps in a waterproof case. They love to follow along and feel like they are important and in control of navigating. I have found by following these few simple tips we have all enjoyed our paddling trips and can’t wait to plan the next! Please leave comments about tips you have used for an enjoyable family paddle!


  • Ann Vollmar June 30, 2009 at 10:11 am

    enjoyed the river trip blogs and ideas for kids! thanks for the ideas!

  • Mike July 16, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    Let the child have some ownership of the trip. When packing, give the child a list of items for which they are to gather. Let them bring a few small personal items. Let them put their stuff in the pack…then they can find it later.

    When route planning, include them. As mentioned in the article, give them a copy of the the map for the trip. Even let them pick a camp site or two. Take turns picking sites, etc.. They will become good map readers early on. Also, during the car ride to the put in, give them a road map to follow. This pays off early and you will be amazed at how fast they comprehend what a map is and what they can learn from it.

    When food planning, let them pick a meal or two. When assembling the food pack, let them help. Then they know where everything is stored and they can help. Big dividends.

    BOTTOM LINE: Let them own the trip and help instead of being inactive participants.

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