Canoeing with Kids
|A canoe offers room to stretch out.|
Traveling in the outdoors with kids quickly boils down to a physics problem: how do you transport massive amounts of gear through the wilderness without killing yourself and child? The answer to this dilemma is a canoe. It is hands-down the best mode of warm-weather wilderness travel with kids that I have found.
A canoe endears itself to parents for its ability to serve as a gear barge. Billy won't go without his life-size stuffed grizzly bear? No problemstrap it to the bow. Jasmine has to bring her 23 Barbies and their dress-up clothes? There's always room under the thwarts. Of course, this can get ugly if you have to portageand it makes a great case for setting up a base camp!
Canoes are a floating playroom to kids. They can move around a bit, paddle if they want, fish as they float, or just space out and stare at the cloud patterns.
The bonus of traveling by canoe is that you can actually cover ground and see a variety of terrainno small feat with kids. For us, it's been the best way to access deeper wilderness, with all the surprises and magic that such places have. We recently returned from a multi-day canoe trip in the Adirondacks in northern New York state with two other families. The kids could swim, bagged their first summit, caught a fish, and we had a large campsite to ourselves. Not a bad reward for a short drive and long weekend.
Here's a few tricks we've learned on the rivers and lakes.
Little kids (up to age 3) A young child can sit unstrapped in a car seat that is nestled securely within the canoe. A clip-on beach umbrella (try Ames or K-Mart) keeps the sun out of their eyes. Bring waterproof toys (plastic dolls, etc.). My daughter Ariel always enjoyed tying a string around a toy and dragging it in the water, watching the patterns it would make for hours.
Big kids (age 4+) It's time to work (or pretend to): get 'em a paddle! Younger kids may not add much propulsion, but they enjoy thinking that they do. Older kids can actually start to pull their weight, especially when put in one of the two "driver's seats." For campsites, a portable nylon hammock, which doubles as a swing, has been a hit. Fishing from the boat, for those who are so inclined, is also a hit with older kids.
All Original Material Copyright © by David Goodman.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication