Taking kids on the water can be a great experience for all the family, if it is done correctly. Here are the key things to consider while kayaking with kids.
Our children need to be introduced to outdoor activities much the same way as we did when we were children. Kayaking, in particular, can be a great way for kids to experience nature, provided it is done correctly and not in a way that will scare them. It’s important that they are taught how to behave around water, and how to respect it. This is vital if they are to develop the skills that will help them optimise their enjoyment of the water and maybe, one day, to save a life. Let’s take a look at some things to consider when kayaking with kids.
Who should go?
Although it’s not always possible, the rule of thumb here is one adult to one child. When taking a child kayaking the child deserves the full attention of the adult responsible for them. That adult needs to know what they’re doing and where they are kayaking. There’s no place for surprises, such as rapids or waterfalls, when you are dealing with young children, so please keep your exploring and adventuring to when you’re alone.
Things to consider
- Length of the trip
- Safety gear
- Preparation for the trip
- Food and hydration
- Proper clothing
Length of the trip
The first trip you take with a child should usually be a maximum of one third the distance you would take as an adult. The older your child, the longer the trip can be, but smaller children will soon grow restless and uncomfortable. If you can avoid it, toddlers and babies should not be taken on kayak trips at all. Ideally, you should help your children to develop water skills before you take them on their first kayak trip.
Make sure the gear you get for your children, such as lifejackets and waterproof clothing, is a proper fit for them. Make sure they know what a personal flotation device (PFD) and how important it is to have it on at all times. Safety is without doubt the most important issue when kayaking with kids.
Preparation for the trip
You know when we were children how our parents would tell us about the vacation trips we were about to make? The excitement that we felt as we would approach the day we would leave? Do the same thing when you decide to take your child on their first float. Explain to them what they have to look forward to and why we take the steps we do as we prepare. Teaching them the safety aspects of a kayak trip can never start too soon.
Food and hydration
A child will dehydrate more quickly than an adult because they are smaller. It is important to protect them from dehydration be taking shorter trips and by having lots of water to drink. It’s also a good idea to bring fruit with you – it makes an easy snack when they get hungry.
Be sure to dress them for protection from the rain, the cold and the sun. When you’re on the water all day, you’re far more exposed to the sun that you would normally be, so sunburn and sunstroke are very real dangers. Always apply sunscreen, and make sure your child is wearing a hat with a brim. If you end up in the water, a young child will also get cooler faster than an adult. Always dress them and act accordingly.
Remember, our goal is to introduce our young children to the great outdoors so that they enjoy it and want to come back for more. We do not want them to have an experience that will turn them against the things we love about the outdoors. Happy kayaking!