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Top Tips for Family Paddling

Top Tips for Family Paddling Trips

Heading out to the wilderness with young kids may seem overwhelming but with these tips, you will survive and thrive while creating memories to last a lifetime and generations to come.

Kaj, Ted, Lisa, Mark and Bebeth started paddling with their kids before they started walking, often joining up with other families for the Traveling Circus.  They share their wisdom and photos for making the most of multi-generational paddling.

Get the kids involved – let them paddle early and often. A kid-sized canoe paddle is a great starter in a canoe or kayak.  Ocean going canoes are great for little ones, use a kids plastic chair for added height and comfort and let them slide down under cover for a little nap on longer crossings.

Family paddling a canoe

Combine families, sharing the load and the work makes lifelong friendships for all ages. 

Bring grandparents along. The bonding that occurs across generations on these trips is powerful and long-lasting.

family paddling in canoes
Photo Credit: Kaj Bune

Leave the kid toys at home. The beach provides. Kids instinctively know how to have fun on paddling trips. Parents can learn a thing or two. 

Fun food makes for fun times, don’t forget the marshmallows, add in a gummy bear for a special treat. Load up on snacks, and portion out for the day or all the beef jerky could disappear in a day. 

roasted marshmallow with a gummy bear

Don’t forget the tarp. Rain or shine, it’s party central. 

Family camping under a tarp playing music and dancing
Photo credit: Kaj Bune

Save the big-water experiences for other times. Just having kids and grandparents out on a trip is challenge enough.  Plan for base camps on longer trips,  shorter paddles and longer beach time.

As Kaj’s son Nils says, “Dad, I know all the parents like the paddling, but the kids like the islands!”

photo credits: Kaj Bune

Bring the fishing rods, fun times and fun food.

photo credit: Kaj Bune

Don’t wait! If kids start going on paddling trips when they are infants they don’t think twice about paddling in the rain in later years.

Terese and Mikaela still paddling then and now.

Dad and daughters sitting on a rock
It is rewarding to watch your kids grow from their middle seat watching, to taking the bow, then the stern, and eventually a solo kayak! Get out there today. Want some help? Become a member and enjoy the benefit of discounts on adventures from some of our business partners and more site photos to find the best beaches.

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