Recommendations for rafting with young kids? - Mountain Buzz
 

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Old 01-22-2016   #1
 
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Aug 2015
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Recommendations for rafting with young kids?

This will be our first legit season of rafting. We are a family of 4 with two young (and active) boys ages 6 and 4. We plan to stay with class I/II rivers this first year to ease into things. One concern we have is the amount of boat time on flat water relating to the kids getting bored/restless. They love the outdoors and camping/fishing... But when boredom sets in, it is no fun for anyone. Any recommendations on how to keep things fun on long stretches of flat water? Any funny or horror stories out there from other parents? Really want to make river experiences be positive for the kids from the get go. Planning some overnights in Canyon Country but don't want to bite off more than we can chew...


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Old 01-22-2016   #2
Jared
 
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Dundee, Oregon
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Toys, waterfights, swimming off the boat, and frequent stops if need be. We pushed ours a little bit last summer and did about 27 miles in 2 days on the lower Deschutes. It is a pretty fast river though, and we were able to make some miles. Finding other families with kids helps, we have been blessed with some great families to hang out with. Even some of the people we boat with that don't have kids are great and work around our kids sometimes. My kids are 5 and 7 right now, the 7 year old has 4 seasons under his belt and the 5 year old has 3 seasons. The first couple years were 7 mile day trips (or less). I hope to get them on some more overnight trips this summer, and we will see how they do. Having 2 helps if they get along.
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Old 01-23-2016   #3
 
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Hampden, Massachusetts
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Super soakers
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Old 01-23-2016   #4
 
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
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Kids will adapt.

We're not rafters, per se, but we started ours off at about two on the floor of a canoe. Ours particularly enjoyed wildlife, so trips that had a sunset portion were a real favorite. I'd echo the advice about toys, swimming, etc., and would suggest a trip but I'm new to this part of the country.
Oh, yeah. Get the kids PFD's with handles and crotch straps. We had one bounce out of the boat. Makes rescue easier. Helmets are not a bad idea either in rapids.
It couldn't have been too bad. There are two generations of raft guides in the family.
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Old 01-23-2016   #5
 
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Sandy, Utah
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The river kid in our group started at age 4. She's 16 now and taking over the oars on her mom's cataraft more & more each summer. She'll be wanting her own raft soon i think

Her mom & grandpa played "I Spy" a lot when she was little. She loved looking for stuff on shore and in the river. In camp, small plastic toys & buckets kept her occupied for hours. She loved doing the dishes when she was little. Give them some camp chores to be in charge of.

Getting your kids out in the wilderness is so awesome. Teaches them that fun can be had away from the computer & video games. Also teaches them to be good stewards of the outdoors.
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Old 01-23-2016   #6
 
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steamboat springs, Colorado
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Last year we did labyrinth canyon with a 5,9, and 12 year old. The couple with the two younger ones brought a couple paddleboards. All three kids just cruised up and down the river basically going raft to raft and hanging out. The main rule was they had to stay between the rafts- couldn't fall behind or get ahead and of course life jackets. This was also a true flat water trip. We all had a blast and it allowed them a lot of freedom.
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Old 01-23-2016   #7
 
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
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Thanks for the advice so far. We are planning a Labyrinth trip this year also and with all the flat water I am concerned that the kids will get a bit too restless. We are going with another family with two children around the same age so that should be fun for them. Camp, side hikes, lunchtime, etc I'm not concerned with. SUP sounds interesting and we will grab some super soakers too. Any other fun river toy recommendations are welcomed. 😀. Thanks again! As a long time whitewater kayaker, the last thing I want is for a negative raft experience for the kids. I love rivers and hope they tap into the same outdoor experience as well.


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Old 01-23-2016   #8
 
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lafayette or Grand Lake, CO., Colorado
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I have let kids as young as 6 row the boat with great success on class 1 and 2(balance your oars as light as possible). Last year’s Smith river trip had 7 kids 5-13 years old that all got to learn how to row. Bouncing the boat gently off a rock or 2 will always get a squeal of joy, but you might want to get a little more experience yourself before trying that one. Geocaching https://www.geocaching.com/playon on a river with that option is really fun and gives them a break off the boat or you can hide your own cache at camp (follow all rules). Float fishing can be entertaining. Letting them make their own pizzas can be fun (with a little parental help), baking a cake and S’mores of course. Have a contest to see who can find the most trash (with a prizes for first and second place) make sure you do not win.
http://www.stupidguidetricks.com/Bits%20Pages/pdfs/Recipes/flipovercake.pdf
What I’m saying for the most part is to find ways to allow them to become participants if they want to, not passengers. If they say ‘can I help’ unless it is dangerous for them to do so say yes even if it means more work for you. After a few trips you will have rafting partners to raft with.
That is my 2 cents worth.
Scott
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Old 01-23-2016   #9
 
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lafayette or Grand Lake, CO., Colorado
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One more thought. Shade for on the boat if it is hot is a must have.
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Old 01-23-2016   #10
 
Denver, Colorado
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We've got a 5 and 2 year old that came on 10 days of trips last year. They were 2 and 4. A three night on the San Juand and a bunch of day trips around here, mostly pumphouse to Rancho or Two Bridges.
Stream machine water guns are awesome. I'm going to put some handles in the front bay for them to hold on to when riding the waves. If you have someone with a ducky or other boat, the change of scenery is nice for sure.
We may come run the Poudre this year as a day trip, love to meet up if you want to.
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