Introducing kids to kayaking
Here is a subject close to my heart as I get so much pleasure sharing with my children the fun and adventure that comes from kayaking. When introducing children to the sport of kayaking there are some basic principles I would encourage anyone to follow. This advice will help ensure everyone has an enjoyable time and everyone wants to do it again. This is a brief outline, for those of you that would like more detail go to my full article on the subject
Heres a short video from my family kayak album to show how varied the options are for you and your kids.
First and foremost make sure you have the correct kayak for the job, does it have the right weight capacity? Are there enough seat positions for everyone or at least places for kids to be comfortable? Is it stable and in what conditions? Some sit on tops with higher seat positions are vulnerable to being top heavy, paddle it first if you can. In almost situations a sit on top kayak is going to be best suited for family use.
Once you have your kayak get familiar with it on the water before going for a longer paddle. By this I mean take it to a safe shallow place where you can play around with the kids, try falling out and getting back in, get the kids to stand up and jump off, show them how the life jacket keeps them afloat…fun games like this will increase the confidence for you and the kids giving better understanding of yours and the kayaks abilities before heading off on an adventure.
Make them feel safe and they are more likely to do it again
Correctly fitted life jackets (PFD) are a must, without compromise. PFDs that are not correctly sized are dangerous, don’t take the risk. Only take the kids out in condition that are suitable for their comfort zone not yours. For the first few trips keep it short and close to shore…take most kids on long trip for the first occasion and neither of you will enjoy it nor will they be willing to join you next time.
With my kids I always make sure there is plenty of snacks on board and dry clothing if ness. Don’t forget the sunblock and water either. For the smaller kids bring some extra entertainment (Thomas the tank engine is a regular passenger in my kayak!). Make sure there is a dry towel waiting for them when you get off the water along with dry clothes.
Introducing kids to kayak fishing
Again I will go into more specific detail in another post as there are many ways to get the kids involved in hunting & gathering from the kayak. My oldest son who is now 5 has been joining me on kayak fishing trips since he was 2 ½, he is a welcome companion and learns so much about the environment around him on every trip. My advice to any parent, firstly is to make it more about them than the fishing.
Kids get bored quick, take lots of lures to play around with just for fun. All the same rules apply as above regarding the correct kayak , safety etc… and be sure there is adequate room on the deck to work while you have a small passenger at the helm. I think it is always smart to take a small first aid kit (some plasters and clean wipes) just in case. For a couple of dollars each you can purchase what is called a bait jig (series of hooks with lumo beads for catching bait fish) using this this can prove to be just as much fun for you as the kids. This is always a good chance for some education on how to handle the fish so they go back as they came out.
Read my full article on this subject for more detail on choosing the right kayak, how to transport it, how to set it up for fishing and camping etc….