Paddling as a Family

Paddling as a Family

Paddling is the perfect activity for everyone in the family to enjoy together. Age and ability really don’t matter as everyone can take it at their own pace and it’s always possible to choose a trip everyone will enjoy.

Spending time bonding as a family, whilst discovering a new world of activity, is an enriching and healthy experience.

a family group in kayaks and paddle boards

Paddling for all ages

Having children doesn’t mean your paddling adventures need to stop. Taking your toddler down a white water course might be a step too far but heading out on a family canoeing trip is a great option. The little ones can join in with the paddling and start learning essential skills. Once they’re tired, they can sit back and relax, leaving you to do all the hard work. We know it’s not always as simple as that with young kids though. Check out our Top Tips for Paddling With Kids article to ensure you all have a smooth and happy trip. 

Once the children are a little older they will be ready to have their own craft. Giving them a great sense of independence and building their fitness and confidence, as well as giving them an appreciation for the natural world.

Older family members are easily able to join the trip too. Paddling is a low impact activity, which puts little strain on joints. It’s possible to take things as gently or high octane as you like.

It’s important to understand each person’s capabilities and age doesn’t necessarily mean more experience. Everyone needs to be confident in the situation and, if there are any doubts, it’s essential to brush up your skills with a paddling course from a local provider

So, we’ve established that the whole family can come along on your paddling adventure, but what else do you need to think about?

a set of parents on a kayak with their small child between them

What are you taking?

Let’s start with the big one; your craft! Are you planning your family paddling trip in a canoe, on paddle boards or in kayaks? As well as having knowledge of how to paddle your chosen craft it’s good to consider how easily everyone can get on and off the water with them. As part of planning your paddle, consider where you will be starting and finishing your journey and the access points along the way. Will all family members be able to manage these access points?

Keeping safe, warm and happy is the best way to stop family squabbles occurring! Make sure everyone is wearing appropriate clothing and you all have a change of clothes handy. Take lots of snacks, warm and cold drinks and, most importantly of all, correctly fitting buoyancy aids for every family member.

If you haven’t got your own kit it’s no problem at all. One of the hundreds of hire providers around the country can get you kitted out and on the water and give you top tips on where to paddle in the local area. Choose a hire provider who is a British Canoeing Delivery Partner and you’ll have the added bonus of knowing they have agreed to provide high standards of safety, value for money and customer service.

small children helping bring kayaks onto the beach in tropical waters

It’s a learning experience!

Paddling as a family is a great opportunity for everyone to learn. Of course, you will all be developing your paddling skills, but what about the other things you’re learning along the way? 

Science and nature are vital parts of the paddling experience. Do you understand the flow and behaviour of water? How your body and paddle movements affect the craft? And, how to interpret weather reports to ensure you stay safe? Knowing these things will keep you safe and allow you to make good decisions. A fantastic starting point for getting your learning on the move is the British Canoeing Paddle Safer course.

Learning more about the environment we paddle in and how best to care for it is something all family members can be active in. Starting with younger children, we have created some fun spotters sheets for you to tick off as you go along. Download your coastal spotters list here, and your inland spotters list here.  On the back of the sheet is some extra information on each item, so you can discuss all the things you’re seeing. Introduce them to the Paddlers Code, a way of looking after and sharing our paddling environment,

It’s even possible to learn about the arts as you’re paddling. Most artists, authors and songwriters take inspiration from the natural environment. Who in your family can create the best piece of written work or other art after an adventure on the water?

a family with their dog in a canoe

Choose your adventure

Are you planning on a couple of hours exploring as a family, or a whole holiday of paddling fun? It’s important to get everyone who’s going on the adventure involved in the planning. Talk about what you all want from the paddle – what does everyone want to see, how long do people want to be on the water etc?

If you’re looking for just a short trip and you’re not sure where to go, have a browse of our Paddling Trails. There are over 170 trails to choose from and each one will tell you what type of water you’ll be paddling on, how far you’ll paddle and step by step directions for the journey. It will be easy to choose a trail which suits the ability of all family members and you might just discover a hidden gem of a waterway near you.

If you can’t find a trail you love head on over to Paddlepoints and really get your planning heads on. You can all scan the map for somewhere you’d like to explore and then click on the Paddlepoints along the way to read information other users have uploaded. Here you can also plot your own routes and then download them.

If you’re thinking bigger than a day trip we’ve got your back. An active holiday creates memories which last a lifetime and there’s always time for relaxation and a day off if you like. Whether you’re considering planning your own holiday or would prefer to book a multi-activity holiday through a registered company, this article is packed with great ideas to choose from.

family of four smiling in a canoe

Enjoy being an active family

Shh…don’t tell anyone but not only will you have created great memories by paddling as a family, you’ll also all be fitter and healthier. Paddling is perfect for physical and mental health and resilience.

British Canoeing On The Water Family Membership will make your trip even better. Covering you to paddle on 4500 km of waterways, with public liability insurance included, craft insurance discount and lots of other offers and discounts, membership will make your family paddling trip planning complete.