Canoeing with Kids

River SwimmingConestoga River Canoe Trip

We spent a few hours out on the Conestoga River on Saturday with our 3 and 5 year olds.  It was our first boat trip with them so we weren’t quite sure how that would pan out.  The hour by hour weather was predicting a thunderstorm around 2:15 so we planned a short jaunt.  I often get a bit too ambitious and think we can do more (which we probably could) but my husband is great about ratcheting it down for a trial and/or more reasonable starting goal.  In this case, he was right and we pulled the boat out around 2:15 pm.

Canoeing in a Thunderstorm

A few things to note. If it had stormed, we were in an aluminum canoe and had a plan to leave the water at the first sign of thunder or lightening.  The area is shielded from civilization by the brush, however homes are just out of site and we are familiar with the area. We also had family who were close by with a vehicle and could pick us up.

Is Canoeing Boring for Kids?

The kids were great for the first 40 minutes but began to get hot and want to get out of the canoe at that point.  The waters were quite shallow, so they were able to touch in the majority of the river. We quickly realized that just sitting in the canoe was less than exciting for the kids.  Of course, the mini rapids and low water made for a small bit of excitement as we occasionally fought to get through the river without bottoming out on rocks or getting stuck at transitions.  We allowed the kids to get out and hang out behind the canoe for a bit (when we reached deeper parts) C put her feet out of the canoe into the water for a bit.  We allowed the kids to get out and hang out behind the canoe for a bit (when we reached deeper parts).  Of course, the kids had their life vests on.

At about the hour and a half mark, we pulled over at a flat spot for lunch.  I had packed a cooler to make sure we had a good bit of food, snack and drink for the trip. This was the best part of the trip for the kids.  They were able to play with rocks, walk around in the river, swim, and play.  They were wearing shoes, (their Keen sandals) because the river is full of debris from recent storms.

Ultimately, the short canoe trip took about 2-3 hours and was the perfect length and duration for a trial run.

Supplies for a canoe trip with kids:

  • Sunblock
  • Life vests
  • Food
  • Drinks/Water
  • Bug spray (we didn’t have any trouble but it doesn’t hurt to have it on board).
  • Camera
  • An extra oar  (just in case)
  • Tube for trailing swimmers (we didn’t do this, but it would have been a huge hit!)
  • Dry bag with cell phone

Any other advice?



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About Laura Boniello Miller

Laura Miller is a internet marketing professional and a mother of two. Her interests include sport climbing, bouldering, reading, traveling, and spending time with her family. She believes that playing outdoors is integral to health and well being, and that if your kids aren't dirty, they haven't had enough fun.