Everything you need to know to get your kid started in kayaking
HOW TO MAKE YOUR KAYAKING TRIP WITH THE KIDS UNFORGETTABLE
You are counting on the fact that your kids will like kayaking.
They will like it, right? They are going to have fun, aren't they?
You have bought a kayak, paddle, and a life jacket that you are sure they are going to love.
You've invested your money and time into researching and shopping, and you are so excited to take them to the lake.
You know it's going to be a blast, and it's part of your plan for an epic summer with the family.
There are a lot of things you can do to make a day on the water something to look back and smile about.
Here are five tips to make sure you get off to a good start.
CAPTURE YOUR KID KAYAKING ON CAMERA
BRING A CAMERA AND CAPTURE A MOMENT WITH YOUR KID ON THE KAYAK TO PRINT OUT IN A GIANT SIZE, FRAME AND DISPLAY IN YOUR HOUSE.
CHOOSE LOCATION WISELY
GO SOMEWHERE THAT YOU KNOW THEY CAN EASILY MANAGE, AND THAT WILL PROVIDE THE PERFECT BACKDROP FOR FUN.
Do your research. Go to the lake or river beforehand and check it out.
I guarantee you won't regret going to scout out the area ahead of time without your kids. Going somewhere that is covered with so much geese poop, or with a biting-fly infestation can ruin the memory of kayaking for a long time for kids. If the conditions are miserable, it is hard to combat that as the parent.
BE PREPARED WITH WAY TOO MANY SUPPLIES THE FIRST FEW TIMES
EVENTUALLY, YOU WILL KNOW EXACTLY WHAT TO BRING, BUT FOR NOW, BRING IT ALL.
Besides your kayaks, life jackets, and paddles, bring all the extras until you've been a few times. Eventually, you will be able to whittle it down to the essentials that work for your family. The first few times it is good to be overly prepared. You will have more flexibility for how the day goes if you brought all the extras along. Having checked out your location ahead of time will have already given you a lot of information about what to bring to that specific place. Consider the ideas below as a starting place for a fun-packed day! Some items listed include affiliate links to some of our family's favorite products but you probably already have most of these things at your house or can get during your next trip to the grocery store!
LET THEM EXPLORE
GIVE THEM FREEDOM, LET THEM TAKE REASONABLE RISKS
For some parents, this is very easy and the whole reason they bought a kayak in the first place, but for other parents, this can be very challenging. Letting your kid have a little room to explore when they are ready, to move away from you, can be scary for parents. Kids need their own adventures, so when it is safe, let them venture out!
If you are on calm water, with life jackets, and it's a nice day, let them explore with their siblings or friends. Give them space. Obviously, you are still going to be there supervising, but you can at least pretend to be doing your own thing while they have some space to be their own person.
When my son (9-years-old) is on his own child-sized kayak and heads out along the banks to explore, he is at his happiest. He looks for turtles, frogs and always makes other discoveries, which he proudly reports back to us. He is in kid-heaven. I watch him navigate himself (purposely) in-between fallen trees and lily pads, just because he likes to navigate himself back out. I often want to say "stay in the middle, don't go under that low-hanging tree," but I resist because I know it is good for him.
He is learning about himself and gaining self-esteem as he handles little obstacles on his own.
When you know your child is safe, take a deep breath and let go. Let them take reasonable risks, such as paddling their own kayak, venturing a safe distance from you, or towing a sibling on the swim-deck of a sit-on-top kayak for a few minutes.
FOR THE ULTIMATE MEMORY MAKING DAY, TAKE FRIENDS WITH YOU
FOR KIDS, THERE IS NOTHING LIKE HAVING AN ADVENTURE WITH FRIENDS
Taking one of your kid's friends with you out on the kayaks, or having another family meet you at the lake can change the day from fun to unforgettable for your kids.
Do you remember being a kid?
Having friends to swim and play with, running around in life-jackets while eating snacks from the cooler? Nothing was better than a day like that.
Sharing a new experience with others can help a timid child be more adventurous. When other young children are trying out the new kayaks, they are more likely to be excited to try as well if they get to watch a more outgoing child go first. Having other kids around can also help make the day more fun if you will be taking turns on kayaks. There will be extra people playing at the waters-edge, eating, looking at rocks, playing in the sand, wading, or doing a scavenger hunt together.
Having a friend to play with, eat with, or paddle with makes it that much more fun and your child will be excited to go kayaking again. It's also more fun for you to have friends at the lake. More adults mean more conversation, more laughter, more hands to make food, to clean up, to help with minor bumps and bruises, moving kayaks, and holding and entertaining little ones.
Older children will enjoy paddling across a lake with their friends. They can make their own discoveries, take walkie-talkies, cameras, or cell phones in dry bags, paddle to a destination and have lunch and a myriad of other reasonable risks that are appropriate for their age. Take it one step at a time and always be safe, but remember to be relaxed as well!
IN SUMMARY, FOR THE MOST MEMORABLE DAY IN KID KAYAKING HISTORY
CAPTURE YOUR KID ON CAMERA, BLOW IT UP AND HANG IT ON THE WALL AT HOME
PICK A GREAT KAYAKING LOCATION
BE PREPARED WITH ALL THE GOOD STUFF
LET YOUR KIDS HAVE A LITTLE INDEPENDENCE
BRING FRIENDS TO MAKE MEMORIES WITH AND MAKE THE DAY TONS OF FUN FOR BOTH YOU AND THE KIDS
Almost six years ago we moved into a little New England house with a river in the backyard and quickly discovered the joy of kayaking kids.