6 Tips To Make Family Paddling More Fun

To make your days on the water more enjoyable, try these tips the next time you head out with the family.

By Eugene Buchanan

6 Tips To Make Family Paddling More Fun
Photograph Courtesy of Maine Office of Tourism

Getting your kids into the paddle sports is all about keeping the fun quotient high and the hassle factor low. Our water sport expert shares his favorite tips for making family paddling adventures more enjoyable.

  1. Have a Destination: Make the outing as fun as possible. To help with this, don’t just head out for a paddle; make it a journey somewhere. Paddle to an island or a rope swing or a secret swimming spot or a lighthouse for lunch.
  2. Don’t Overdo It: Don’t try to climb Mt. Everest in one day. Shoot for maybe a three- to four-mile roundtrip journey your first time out.
  3. Be Mindful of Tides: Take tides, wind and, if applicable, river currents, into consideration so your kids don’t get burned out on the return leg of your outing.
  4. Keep Snacks and Drinks Handy: Kids get hungry, especially in the Great Outdoors. Keep plenty of high-energy snacks and electrolyte-replenishing drinks (and water) on board. Don’t be afraid to put down your paddle periodically to chow down.
  5. Attach a Cooler Bag: Depending on your craft, a small cooler bag, like Yeti’s Hopper, will keep drinks and lunch cold all day. Make sure it’s attached to the thwart or slipped inside a canoe or kayak hull, so it’s not lost if you capsize. Hint: Give your kids their own snack pouch that they can keep with them for easy access.
  6. Carry These Odds and Ends:The following “essentials” will help keep your kids occupied and having fun.
    • Binoculars for wildlife watching
    • Squirt guns for mid-paddle soaking sessions
    • Nets for identifying marine life.
    • Two-way radios are also a great idea if you have more than one boat. 

About The Author: The 14-year editor-in-chief of Paddler magazine and founder of www.paddlinglife.net, Eugene Buchanan has written about the outdoors for more than 25 years, from covering the X Games for ESPN.com to working for NBC at the Beijing Olympics. With freelance articles published in the New York Times, Men's Journal, Sports Afield, Outside, National Geographic Adventure and more, he’s a member of New York's Explorer's Club and the author of five books, including Brothers on the Bashkaus, Comrades on the Colca and the recently released Tales from a Mountain Town. Learn more at www.eugenebuchanan.com.

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