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Old 11-29-2014   #1
g.soutiere's Avatar
leadville, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 279
kids and white water

I took my boy on his first two rafting trips this summer, he loved it by the end of his first trip. His first trip was at 13 months, grizzly creek to Glenwood, he was scared at first but by the end he helped me r1 his mom and grandma. Same run second time had an amazing time, and helped paddle raft. Next summer is an overnight ruby/horsethief trip. My question is how should I push him to enjoy rivers (any boat he chooses). I know how to push him when he snow rides, but still new enough at rafting that I want more input. Camping and rafting are his introductory to outdoor life.
Thanks for all your input good or bad

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Old 11-29-2014   #2
cataraftgirl's Avatar
Sandy, Utah
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,121
Mostly you want to keep him safe and comfortable. A good PFD & good rain/splash gear. Warm layers, and also a good sun hat & sunscreen. His own sleeping bag & pad for the tent. Stuff to play with in camp....buckets to play in the sand work great. Let him pitch in with camp chores. Our river kid loved to help wash dishes when she was little. Give him a small item or two to carry from boat to camp, and praise him for helping. Just make it fun and he'll love it. Our river kid started at age 3, and now is 14 & helping her mom row a 14 ft. cataraft. Even as a teenager, she still loves the river & now invites her friends on trips.

"We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love....and then we return home."
Australian Aboriginal Proverb
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Old 11-29-2014   #3
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 149
Flipping will be a totally disorienting and frightening experience for child and parent. So if you want to ensure a long and beautiful relationship with the river and the outdoors, keep it low key, just like you're doing until he has a love for it and is old enough to want some more adventure. Somewhere in the 10-12 year old range he'll be eating it up and begging you to 'hit the holes'.
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Old 11-29-2014   #4
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Gypsum, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 458
Practice swimming riffles. Some day we all swim. Get him ready for the inevitable.
Why does Pluto walk on all fours, drink from a dog bowl, and get treated like...a dog, while Goofy drives a car, wears clothing, and speaks in English?
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Old 11-29-2014   #5
Learch's Avatar
Dundee, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 655
My kids are 4 and 6, the older one started some easy class II and 3 years old and the younger one started at 2 years old. They have both run some pretty safe class III, and now they like to help paddle where it's safe to let them. I took my older one on the Deschutes (in Oregon) and it is more tall waves and bigger water, he elected to walk the biggest rapid with Momma. I was okay with his decision, but I'm sure he would have been fine. We scouted for his benefit and watched an IK flip in the big hole, that made up his mind.
We ran across a group doing the raft slip n slide on that trip, and he ended up sliding off the raft into the water 3 times. He jumped off the side of the raft with me and feels comfortable relying on his life jacket without me or the raft to hang on to. There is a rapid called elevator that people swim down, it's just a wave train. He witnessed most of the adults on our trip and several others safely swim down, so I think that will prepare him to do the same one day.
My son knows what a throw bag is, knows how to throw it about 20', he assists me practicing with my pin kit, and I teach him about what I see on the rivers. (Plants, birds, fish, currents, etc) Just like what has been mentioned, safety and comfort are big things with any kid and a sport like this. We also have some good friends who have kids almost the same age, and we like to go with them. They are a great couple, and our kids get along great. I think that relationship will be blossom as we get to run more rivers in the future.
Wishing I was on the river instead of surfing the web...
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Old 11-30-2014   #6
cedar city, Utah
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 1,933
We have taken our friends kids several times now, one is hooked. Funny enough the other isn't as he claims the river is just "pee and fish", which I find hilarious as he is processing our habit of "the solution is dilution".

The sister is older and is in love with it. I think it helps to have a friend or adult who isn't their parent that they get along with real well. We only take them once a year but she is begging for the trip each time. We started them out on the Moab Daily and they just went on Deso with us this summer. She is paddling for the first times now in an IK (mostly doing circles).

We spent a lot of time on the Daily playing in the water. She swam her first "rapid" in Deso this summer and I think it helped a ton. We eddy float with them all of the time which is giving her confidence. Its pretty cool to see a young kid start to understand river dynamics a bit.

Hoping our future child takes to it like she has.

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Old 11-30-2014   #7
RiverMamma's Avatar
ebbing, flowing..., CO, NM
Paddling Since: 1985
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 239
My Dad had me on the River at 3 years old... I don't know what he did to help me Love it, but it became an integral part of who I am and my biggest passion, as well as my life's career! I first took my daughter down River at 13 months as well, as a 6 year old now she has over 700 River miles and the same insatiable Love! She R2's with me, rows a little and paddles a Fun1.
I think the biggest things have already been said, warm, safe, happy, friends. Lots of extra cloths & gummy bears. Also, just sharing your passion for it!
As a professional with over 20,000 River miles that is sometimes overly conservative on the water (especially with my daughter, or any kid for that matter!) I sometime wonder at my dad who was just getting into boating & dragging us kids down class IV at 6 & 8... & back when there weren't whitewater helmets, or good kid gear. But in reality, we not only survived, but thrived!
And also, like someone said, it might just be dependent on the kid too. My brother didn't get into it the way that I did, and my best friend has one kid who is super into it & one that thinks it's alright.
Also, for her parents identifying as "boaters who ski" my daughter would likely identify herself as "a skier who boats." I think really, no matter what we do, our kids will be who they are, and all we can do in any situation is keep them warm and safe, share our passions with them and encourage them to follow their own!
Some handy resources for you might include these two Facebook groups "River Kids" and "Kayak Kids of Colorado." Also, I blog about my experiences of parenting on the River, "Journeys of a River Mamma."
Welcome to the clan! I Love seeing how many awesome kids are being brought up on the River (& in the outdoors in general) these days, it really is a beautiful thing!
Journeys of a River Mamma Blog "Ever onward, ever forward, ever down the River!"- Ed Abbey
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Old 11-30-2014   #8
g.soutiere's Avatar
leadville, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 279
Thanks for the replies, I am introducing joey to nature the way my dad did, except he didn't boat. He does have luxury when camping, which is why I want to start him river camping. I agree with what everyone has to say and hope we can start swimming lessons soon, get him on the roaring fork and a couple of overnight ruby trips next summer.the short bus should doo us good r2ing with joey
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Old 11-30-2014   #9
Coos Bay, 97420
Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 21
I've had my kids (girls 6&9) IK-ing for a couple years. We just bought a 14er this season and did a couple 3 day trips down the Rogue. All kinds of good things already said. To keep them liking it, just remember to keep it fun for them. Their idea of fun is completely different than ours. Like the $100.00 xmas gift you got them but they threw the gift to the side and played in the box it came in for hours. Sometimes its the simple things.

When my kids flip over in the rapids (in the IK's) they come out of the water laughing. I'm worried more than they are. When we started them in it, we would flip the rafts over on purpose in nice water. Sometime flip other peoples rafts over to. Made it like a big fun game. So now when they end up in the water it's no big deal to them.

Also remember when you set out on some of these trips there's no turning back. Kids body temperatures don't regulate like ours so keep an eye on them. Meaning the don't drink water until there already sick from dehydration/heat stress. They don't put on a jacket until their near hypothermia. Those kind of things.

I always bring 2 cheap telescoping fishing poles (and I mean the cheaper the better). They'll spend hours trying to catch a fish. A couple little plastic gold pans (which double as dog dishes when the kids aren't mining) and ladder ball is a great game for everyone. Light, packs up small and every age can play.

Just talking about makes me exacted to get the kids back on the water.
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Old 11-30-2014   #10
g.soutiere's Avatar
leadville, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 279
Brad b awesome river ideas, next summer ant the few after are getting used to the river , I would never push him till he could self rescue. Browns is the first real rapid, after he can self rescue. But yes keeping them dry , safe and warm; well fed, and in a good comfortable zone, all will be good.

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