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Living With Kids on Boating Trips

ArticleMay 18, 2011

Just remember, you’re there on the water by choice; your kids are probably there by your choice, not theirs. You’re there for many reasons—to get away from the office and the phone, to commune with nature, to enjoy time with friends, to test your outdoor skills, etc. Remember that your reasons for boating aren’t theirs. For them to enjoy the experience, you have to meet their needs and give them reasons for enjoying the trip. Do that and not only will you have fun, but everyone will be looking forward to the next trip!

Physical Comfort

Elle On the Lochsa
Photo: Keli Keach
  • If they’re not comfortable, they’re not happy. When they’re not happy, the trip becomes a pain.
  • Keep them warm or cool, depending on the conditions. Waterproof raingear and multiple layers of synthetic fabric garments are essential when the weather is wet and cold.
  • Remember to also pack warm booties, gloves and headgear. When it’s sunny and warm, cover them up with broad brimmed hats and protective clothing.
  • Sun protection is a must. Our Youth HydroSilk Shirts provide complete all-day UPF 50+ protection.
  • There are many brands of kid-friendly sunscreens. Look for “broad spectrum” ones that protect against both UVA and UVB radiation, and ones with high water resistance. The ones in spray cans let you put them on quickly, even with the squirmiest of kids. One solution for covering sensitive areas is to use lip balm w/ sunscreen. It works for noses, cheeks and ears, as well as lips.

Fuel for Young Bodies

  • Their bodies are growing and they get hungry often. Pack lots of healthy snacks. Good ones are cheese sticks, summer sausage, crackers, pretzels, dried fruit, trail mix, grapes, apples and oranges.
  • It’s important that they stay well hydrated. Get them their own water bottle; put their name on it and some fun stickers. If they’ll drink water, that’s probably best. If not, add flavor with fruit juices or a sprinkle of powdered beverage crystals. Be sure they drink often.

Creative Play, Camp and the Teachable Moment

Photo: Keli Keach
  • On the water, make games out of what you’re seeing and doing. “Tell me when you see a fish jump.” “Tell Dad/Mom if you see any rocks ahead of us.” “How many birds do you see it that tree?” “Let’s see how many dragonflies land on the boat.” It’s a variation of the car game, “Let’s see how many red cars we meet” that can help preserve your sanity. It also helps nurture observational skills. Simple water toys also help keep them occupied.
  • In camp, a few simple items, like a little bucket and shovel and a ball or two are probably all they need; their active imaginations will take care of the rest. Bring along some of their favorite books, and paper and crayons. Animal and plant identification books are excellent teaching tools.
  • Please have them wear their life jackets at all times on the water and when playing near the water; you can’t watch them every minute.
  • Kids love headlamps! The new ones that use LED bulbs are real easy on batteries.
  • Getting them to go to sleep in a tent before it gets dark can be a chore. A set of headphones and some stories or music may help.
  • These are great times to teach young folks outdoor skills and respect for wildlife and the environment. Model good outdoor behavior like staying on trails, recycling beverage containers, not feeding wildlife, picking up micro-trash, etc. Let them help with camp chores.
  • If they’re old enough, let them use binoculars to study the birds you see.

Have Fun!

When your young ones have fun, they’ll want to repeat the experience. Start them out the right way and you’ll be helping them build a lifetime love of boating and the outdoors!