Don’t wait another day. Grab a paddle and take your son or daughter for a day on the water and you’ll be making memories to last a lifetime.
Note: The following was adapted from Outdoor Parents, Outdoor Kids, By Eugene Buchanan, which is available on the author’s website.
It was Oct. 27, a little late for such a trip in the Rockies, but warm enough to pull our inflatable kayak out of its premature hibernation. Throwing rocks in the river, my 2-year-old daughter blurted out 10 percent of her vocabulary: “I wanna’ go rafting.”
She had learned the word a year and a half earlier when we took her as a nine-month-old on a three-day trip down the Colorado River’s Ruby-Horsethief Canyon. And it was then we’d realized that — aside from the scorpions, rattlesnakes, cactus, fire ants, poison ivy, sunburn, cliffs and rapids – paddling with kids is one of the best things in the world that you can do as a family. Whether you go with an outfitter or on your own, it will float your spirits as much as your craft.
It’s not without its pitfalls—diaper changes, pacifier cleaning, cry arbitration and crib packing will compete with everything else you need to do on such a trip. But when you’re making mud pies and skipping rocks, you’ll realize that there’s far more to a paddling trip than meets the grown-up eye.
Armed with these experiences that October day on the Yampa, Brooke and I set off for our final voyage of the year, leaving the baby jogger and her stuffed camel at the take-out for shuttle.
Our Year of the Flatwater Trip evolved every year thereafter, and now we make paddling—be it on rivers, lakes or the ocean—an annual activity for our family.
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.