Friday, May 23, 2008

Keys to Canoe Tripping with Kids

An anonymous poster on the Algonquin Adventures forum recently wrote a blurb on things to consider when taking a child out for their first canoe trip. With my daughter Lauren and I heading out for our first trip in just over a month, this really hit home with me. He covered some things I hadn't considered and thought it might be good for others to read as well.

"Ton's of advise that could be offered for a "kid's first trip". You've probably already searched the previous posts on this topic on this board, but if not take a moment to do so.

In general keep them involved and they'll have more fun, doing is better than watching others do it. A good example is sawing up firewood... most young kids love to do it, while most adult see it as almost a necessary evil, so be sure to take a saw that you are comfortable having them use. Be sure you have a first aid kit with antiseptic and small bandages (bandaids - clothe ones stick longer than the plastic) close at hand.

Let them help cook and clean up after meals.

You've probably already planned your menu, if there's anything on it that they don't eat fairly regularly, have them try it before you leave to ensure they'll like it on the trip. A good last minute meal substitute that many kids like might be Mac and Cheese, if you find something on the menu that isn't well received.

Let them know what tasks need to be done in camp beforehand and have them be responsible for some of them. That way they won't need to always be asking "what's next?" or having you calling out orders. set up tents, bear bags, get water, firewood, cooking, etc.

Lifejackets...have them put them on before getting into the canoe, exceptions..if for no other reason for your peace of mind. Attach a whistle to each lifejacket for "Emergencies only"

Have a backup plan incase weather makes being outside impossible, card games etc.

get each of them a waterproof disposible camera to record "their perspective on the trip"

you said that the kids would carry their own gear, if they are able (weight-wise) let them carry some of the group gear and meals as well (even if it's something small - a snack, fuel canister, etc.). This helps them to feel like a contributing part of the group rather than just someone along for the ride.

take along extra beverages, hot chocolate, koolaid for when it's hot and when it's not (sitting out a rain storm is better with hot chocolate)

Don't eat in or near your tent, never. It's a bad practice that could be unsafe in the long run.

Don't let them leave camp alone (buddy system) and anytime they leave (even just to find firewood), have them take atleast their whistle. It's easy for kids to loose their way in the woods, the whistle will help you find them. Tell them if the get lost or even a little lost to find a tree, have a seat and blow the whistle untill you come. It's easier to locate a noisy stationary group of two, than it is to try to find a quiet, individual wandering around lost.

Have fun and be safe."

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