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Old 03-15-2015   #1
jacy's Avatar
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 29
Boating with Littles

Hey there. My husband and I have been commercial guides for quite some time, but we are buying our own rig this month and hoping for some family floats. We've done multi-day trips before, and we've camped with the kids many times (now 13 mts and 4.5 yrs), but we haven't had them on the river. Any general recommendations? gear, toys, "can't live withouts", or other? We are planning on some day trips and maybe a multi-day on Ruby. And...if anyone would be interested in boating with us, that would be cool, too.

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Old 03-15-2015   #2
Cheyenne, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 12
Keep it short and keep it fun. You'll stop alot more often just to play on the river banks. Lot's of snacks. Children's Blood sugar levels drop quicker than adults. These are my lessons learned.

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Old 03-15-2015   #3
montrose, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 326
Get a bimini off ebay for $100 and make sure you have a flat spot where you can lay out a pad under it. Keeping the 13 mo old hydrated may be a challenge. Glow stick bracelets are good if your kids are up past dark and also good as a tent night lite.

Above all else, go with other families. Take turns wrangling the kids so folks can have some relax time.
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Old 03-16-2015   #4
the fort, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 672
keep them comfortable (warm if cold or cooler if hot). plenty of snacks and drinks. being around/with other kids helps but not possible if it's just you and yours. maybe plan on shorter days. my kids like to eat earlier than normal (~5:30ish), so being in camp early enough to get setup and dinner prepared is good to keep them from getting too cranky from being hungry. learned that one the hard way once. also i always underestimate how quickly kiddos tire out from this kind of stuff, so keep that in mind.
By the waterside I will lay my head.
Listen to the river sing sweet songs to rock my soul.
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Old 03-16-2015   #5
Dipshit with the most.
carvedog's Avatar
Bellevue, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,497
I might think of something else later but the one that was new to me was my kids getting the side of chin chafing from the life jacket. It's one thing when it is commercial clients and they get out of their boat and go home after two hours. It's another when it's yours and they have to keep going.

For my one daughter the only that helped was vaseline to soothe the chin burn. Her legs get really dry too and she won't do lotion as it 'burns' her legs. Some with aloe. We did find one very clean lotion that she will tolerate. But especially all the rubbing on the inside of the boat and in an out of the water seemed to affect her. The other one some but not as bad.
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Old 03-16-2015   #6
Osprey's Avatar
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 683
My daughter would get that chin chafe something horrible, we ended up putting the car seat shoulder pad things on her vest. I think we used Aquaphor and that was good.

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Old 03-16-2015   #7
East MT, WestMT, Both sides of the Yellowstone
Paddling Since: 09
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 1,112
Lots of beer to quiet the screaming in the night. Our lil one hated the tent. Pack n play is good to keep them off the sand and rocks plus is familiar for them to hang out in. Keeping it roadside is nice too just incase you want to call it quits. The 4.5 yo should be fine but the lil one can be difficult.
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Old 03-16-2015   #8
wildsoles's Avatar
Belfair, Washington
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 40
multi-day with little ones

I can't agree enough with the suggestions others have made, particularly the comments about kids' blood sugar dropping more quickly. A good variety of snack options, offered more frequently than at home, and a couple of hydration options that are 'fun' to drink (juice boxes, camelpaks, etc) really makes a difference.

We took a cheap paintbrush and trowel and 'hunted for fossils' in the river banks -- great entertainment when our son needed a break from the boat.

Also - crocs worked great for boat shoes. When they get chucked out of the boat, they float. And in camp, they weren't wet and chaffing his feet.

We used lightweight rainpants over the top of a wetsuit as splash gear -- they kept the wetsuit dry so he was less likely to get cold. And (probably not officially approved but...) we always have him in a helmet, but couldn't find a river helmet small enough, so use a bike helmet. It has a little brim to shade the eyes, and then too it protects not only from river rocks but also from whacking his noggin on the drybox or pelican cases if he's hopping around in the boat and slips.

We also take a giant golf umbrella or small patio umbrella. Not sure where you are, but we get occasional downpours even in the middle of summer. Several times it has saved the day. And it's endless fun for him to hide under the umbrella with one parent and giggle like mad while the other parent rows in the rain

Other basics: sun hat, long sleeve rash guard/swim top to prevent sunburn, lots of headlamp batteries, and brush up on your camp songs.

Sounds like great times in store for your family!
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Old 03-16-2015   #9
Shingle Springs, California
Paddling Since: 1992
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 100
The dollar store glow sticks have saved allot of trips for us. They sell them for a buck a pack at most dollar stores, don't be cheap spend $20.

All the kids get bracelets each night so you can always see them. They also play bocce ball with them and a bunch of other games on the beach. We have even started using a bunch of them stuck in the sand in lieu of a fire so there is no possibility of one of them getting burned and mom can relax a little. This works really good for drinking around inno fire season too.

Our kids are a little older, but a large beach towel that will cover the front of the boat also makes a great fort that is also out of the sun. Just remember to take it down in the rapids,it could get interesting in a flip.
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Old 03-16-2015   #10
shredder-scott's Avatar
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1980
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 257

Swim lessons are a must !

Water guns are always fun.

Sunshade for little ones sensitive skin is important. Both on shore and on boat.

Chin rash, use some fleece and 3m adhesive spray. Glue the fleece onto pfd, problem solved.

Invest in kids gear pfds, helments, ect...that fits not buy for them to "grow into "

Set a good playing in or next to river ...pfd or dad playing at rivers edge...pfd on to

Have fun with the little ones !

Paddle on


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