My rafting partner has been bringing his family on the river for a long time. When I first met them, his grand daughter was four years old. She turned five on our river trip. At first I was hesitant about spending 8 days on a river with a five year old, but she's an awesome kid. Last summer at the age of ten, she started doing some rowing on the Main Salmon. She helped her mom row some small rapids on a 14 ft. Cat. Then in September, she came with her dad, grandpa, and I on her first Middle Fork trip. She was a real trooper.
It's been an incredible joy to watch her grow up on the river. Her relationship with her parents and grandpa has been strengthened, and her love for rivers and all of the great outdoors has grown. It's so wonderful to see a kid enjoying life without needing constant technology. She hauls gear, cooks, cleans up, swims, hangs out in the hammock, and now she even kicks our butts at Canasta.
Having kids on river trips not only teaches them life lessons...... it's taught me a lot too.