When people see us on the river, they always assume we are a school … at a minimum there are 5 paddlers, at most there are 10! We try to balance our days with fun (epic) paddling for the older kids and fun (and safe) paddling for the younger kids. I can tell you, paddling with us is a blast … we can make the easiest Class II river fun for the expert and we can take the stress out of a tough paddle simply by laughing at me! Our kids are excellent at reading water, can find the lines and lead. They are reliable too. They are spot on with a throw rope and will be at your side immediately to ferry a swimmer to the side and gather gear. They are alert and safety minded, always having fun, but never forgetting the power of the river. They have to be, they paddle with me!! When I’m on the river and paddling with the Class IV+ crowd I’m pushing my limits to the very end so I tend to be a bit testy, irritable even. Our closest friends love this, and my kids love this because almost always there will be epic video footy of a crazy lady yelling and hollering “Are you Kidding ME?” “What the f*$&”, “Go! Paddle!” & “Where the hell is the take out?” and almost always a fun little booty beer, or booty marg at the end the day. But most of the time, I can be found paddling with the entire family, which means the experience is G-rated and tons of fun.
With kids, everything is fun, they can never be accused of turning anything unnecessarily into work. And kids love water, it’s almost a natural environment for them!! Drop ’em in a river with the appropriate safety gear and they are little fish. We teach our kids to kayak simply by having a blast on the river. No pressure, no real goals in mind except to share our love of the river with them. If they want to boof a little rock, by all means go for it. If they want to surf a wave, have at it. If they want to roll and pull their skirts, do it! That’s a great skill to have and gets them comfortable being upside down! They are always doing wacky things in their kayaks! Always. From standing up inside the boat and paddling to playing chicken to practicing tricks on the trampoline — they are not following some careful regime, it’s just pure fun. But, unbeknownst to them, every minute they are on the river they are learning new skills that build confidence and lead to a lifelong love of the water. Our older kids who paddle competitively are out there because it is fun. What they say they love about kayaking is that even practice is fun. 8 hours on a wave practicing a McNasty is fun, the adrenaline charge they get from paddling a difficult run is fun. Keep it fun, keep it light and your kids will be accompanying you on the water for years to come – there’s just no way you’ll ever get them out … and that, my friend, becomes your new struggle!! 🙂