Top tips for paddling with kids

Top tips for paddling with kids

Paddling with kids can be tricky if you’re not prepared.

But don’t fret! We’ve put together a series of tips to help save the day! Here are our top 11 things to think about when paddling with kids.

  1. Take some snacks and maybe a picnic (it acts as a carrot as much as anything else!). You don’t need to think big, just a bit of chopped fruit, carrot and cucumber sticks, chocolate or crisps will do the trick. It’s amazing how quickly you can divert a tantrum with the shake of a snack packet.
  2. Make sure they’re wearing appropriate clothing. Ensuring they have the correct clothes for the weather conditions can help prevent a whole lot of moaning. Extra thermals for the cold, UV resistant rash vests for the sun, and comfy water shoes for any portages. As a result of having this correct clothing will make any paddle more enjoyable.
  3. Prepare for them to fidget. All kids fidget, so think carefully about the craft you select. They will inevitably want to move about or swap places when they get onboard, so make sure you bare this in mind if you are paddling a distance.
  4. Use your imagination! Make your paddle an adventure; explain the journey before you go, play a game of ‘I spy’, and maybe even make up a story together.
  5. Connect with nature! Get them excited to spot birds, fish, and plants. With the British waterways comes a lot of nature, and getting kids excited by it at an early stage will help us to look after them and keep them litter free.
  6. Create a list of things for them to spot or collect along the route. First one to complete it wins a prize. With plenty of wildlife along route, you’ll be spoilt for things to list.
  7. Plan your route. Think about portage points and ease of access, especially with young kids on board. The canoe trails section has over 150 trails across the country where important information like toilets, ‘get in’s’ and cafes are listed.
  8. Be prepared. Pack a dry bag with spare clothes, a warm jacket, suncream, sun hat, gloves, and towel… anything you think you might need for the weather conditions you will face. Check out our Paddling Safely in the Summer article to see what yo may need in the heat.
  9. The correct buoyancy aid is essential. It is very important that you get the correct PFD for the paddle. Especially important that kids wear one as they may be more inclined to go for a dip. If in doubt about what to look for, check out our ‘Buying your first PFD‘ article to see what is worth thinking about.
  10. Kids love to copy. Take this opportunity to show them best practice whilst on the water. This could be taking care of other water users, good paddling techniques, and how paddling brings fun with it.
  11. Take a water pistol if all else fails. Remember, every kid loves a water pistol. Fact.

One last thing…

Paddling with kids should be fun! So enjoy your time out on the water as a family and remember to take plenty of pictures along the way. The pictures and memories will last a lifetime. If you’re new to paddling, we’d recommend learning the basic skills through Paddle Awards so that you feel confident taking your kids on the water. Or look at going paddling through a club or delivery centre near you.