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Old 03-29-2014   #1
Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 6
Rafting with Little Ones

First off I would like to introduce myself to the forums. My name is Tood and I live in Glenwood Springs, CO. My wife and I have kayaked for several years until the addition of our little girl who is currently 16 months old. Recently we have invested in a raft to get back on the river again this summer as a family. The raft itself is a 14 ft SB with the intention of adding a row frame to it so that one of us can row while the other attends to the little one. We will be doing mostly day trips with the hopes of a few overnighters.

What advice can you give to make rafting enjoyable for the little ones? What do you do to keep them safe and warm? What is some necessary gear?

Thanks in advance.

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Old 03-29-2014   #2
Lakewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 74
Just go when its warm and not to much wind. The Upper C is great and I have brought my kids on that run since they were 2.5 yo. Loads of great sections on the Colorado near you. If your kids are young I would recommend doing short sections and taking lots of stops to check things out. Pump house to Radium on the upper C is perfect. Your never more than an hour or two from the takeout. So if everyone is having fun make stops. If you foresee a meltdown than speed up to the takeout. Always leave with them wanting more and they will always want to get back on the water.

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Old 03-29-2014   #3
caverdan's Avatar
C. Springs, Colorado
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,443
Get you a good umbrella or bimini top for your rig. Plan to take a good stove and kitchen box in case you need to stop and eat or get off the river for some reason........ like a "out of the blue" wind, rain , or snow storm. Overpreperation when rafting with the very young goes a long way.
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Old 03-29-2014   #4
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Moab, Utah
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 70
I agree with caverdan. a bimini or big umbrella is a must. also create as much flat space on your frame with plenty of paco so that your little one has plenty of room for breastfeeding, napping, cuddling. Lots of her favorite snacks and special treats. And a motor, incase foul weather or an epic meltdown encroaches on your river trip. Practice makes perfect.
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Old 03-29-2014   #5
Golden, Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 34
I've been rafting ever since I can remember. Entertainment was never really an issue for me, always enjoyed being out there. I remember once I was in the rapid "silver bullet" (I think that is the name) on the Arkansas and I lost my favorite hat. That trip wasn't that good afterwards, for me at least. I would recommend not bringing along something that will bring down your kid's attitude if lost. Hope I helped
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Old 03-29-2014   #6
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Dundee, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 655

We take dinner with us and leave a stove at the bottom or pay for a shuttle service. When we get off the river we change them right away, and we try to end the trip at a park with a play area and picnic area. We get them fed and play a little more, then they fall asleep on the way home for the evening. Our biggest challenge was after we got off the river, and this system really smoothed out our trips.
This year I already got some new wet suits for them, and I keep extra clothes and towels in the raft in case they need to get warm and dry. We toss in some sand and pool toys for them to play with throughout the day. My son started at 3 and my girl started at 2.5, now they are 6 and 3.5 years old. My son is already talking about rafting this season.
We ended last season with some continuous class II -III, they did great. We only had one yucky weather day on probably 12 trips in 2013. Hope some of this helps.
Wishing I was on the river instead of surfing the web...
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Old 03-29-2014   #7
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Gypsum, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 458
Get her over to the pool and get her comfortable in the water. I wouldn't take her on the water until she is at one with it. A bad experience could create life long issues.
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 03-29-2014   #8
Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 6
Thanks all for the comments.
A canopy is a good idea and has been brought up several times by the wife as a must have item.
I like the idea of overpreparation such as extra food and warm cloths. Having dinner at take out in a park sounds nice and would help reduce the "I'm tired and hungry crankiness"
As for exposing her to water, we have been regularly taking her to the pool since she was 12 weeks old and she loves the water. We work with her to get comfortable floating on her back (not quite there yet) and we have a pfd on order and plan on getting her used to wearing it in the pool before getting out on the river.
I am curious as to what you all dress them in? River gear for little ones seem a little limited. I was thinking of a shorty 3 mm wet suit but it might be a little overkill on warm days.
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Old 03-29-2014   #9
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Dundee, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 655
Ours wear rash guard type stuff that they used to swim in the pool with, and our son borrowed a wet suit on the last trip. The rash guard is the bare minimum for us. I'll post up some wet suit experiences this summer, but I'm thinking they will have to get used to them also. My son tried his on this week, and he said he doesn't like it when its dry. Hopefully when it gets wet and keeps him warm he'll like it better. Emma hasn't tried hers on yet.
Wishing I was on the river instead of surfing the web...
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Old 03-30-2014   #10
East of the Pine beatle, Colorado
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 1,363
simple thing- but if you get an early start, you can usually beat the bad weather. Getting off the water before 2 o'clock or so means they won't be caught out in a storm that might be uncomfortable for them.

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