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Discussion Starter #1
After all the tradegy this year on the river I am rethinking our Grand Canyon trip in March. We have 2 kids who will be almost 11 and 13 and we have a permit for March of 2010. My husband and I have plenty of rafting experience -Cataract, Salt, Shoshone, Westwater, Yampa, Ladore, Desolation, Blue, Colorado (never on the Grand though), the group has had plenty of experience including several Grand Trips and the kids have done the Yampa, Ladore, Desolation, Upper C and Blue and my oldest did Shoshone at high water. The oldest has taken many swims, including Shoeshone at high water and kayaks. The youngest however, has only had one not so bad swim on Ladore and walked Warm Springs at High Water. I plan on having them completed outfitted with dry gear, helmets and of course PFD's and they are taking swimming lessons. The Grand is a trip of the lifetime and we have always wanted to do it as a family-but I am a bit nervous this year. I am seeking opinions from those who have been on trip as to what they think, especially if they have gone with kids.
Thanks so much!
 

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no tengo
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I was on a trip with some kids - one 11 year old. He did great. His dad flipped in Crystal which is pretty much the worst swim and everything was all good. Don't let it stop you.
 

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For what it's worth, at the company I work for our minimum age is 12. That's pretty common for row trips. On a motor trip I did, we had an 8 year old. I think they'll be ok as long as they are as prepared as they can be, and you are as well. It sounds like you've got the experience and so does the rest of your crew.
 

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If you have good warm gear (the water is cold) and a good high floatation pfd go for it. All the big drops are easily scouted and walkable. It is such a wonderful place and so few get to do it as a private. As always its your call
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the input-I am feeling better already. All of this stuff on the river lately was making me nervous. This really is a dream of a lifetime and the kids have already talked to school about getting the time off; but as a parent I want to know that I am not getting them into something that can't be managed (I understand there is always risk on the river). Still taking comments if you desire.
 

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One nice thing about the Grand is that there are almost always big pools to recover in if you do flip - there isn't anything like the Big Drops on Cataract or high water Westwater. A lot of the big drops have pretty mellow sneak lines too - I don't think I even got wet in House Rock, Hance, Crystal, Dubendorff, or Upset.

Make absolutely sure you go right at Bedrock, avoid the rock gardens in Crystal and Dubendorff, and stay out of the Ledge Hole in Lava and there isn't all that much to worry about even if you do flip.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
atg
Great information on running the rapids! I figured we could save the wild runs for another time and just want to enjoy the river and the canyon and get down safely.
We flipped in Big Drops -fortunatly it was 3-thought we would see what our big Cat would do in a big hole. Flipped us over like nothing. Now we know.
 

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Those lines aren't necessarily "sneak" lines. They are lines that are mellow if you make them, but they are the standard lines and if the lines get blown, the consequences can be swims and flips. Don't go into it thinking that there will be easy sneak lines. They are all hard moves.
 

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I did the Grand with a couple of teenage kids back in 1990. No problems. The dad (the oarsman) got knocked out of the boat in Crystal but the rest of the family stayed aboard. Once they looked back and figured out no one was at the oars, they recovered well.
With kids that age, in the big rapids I'd consider having a policy of making one adult responsible for a kid. If the kid swims, the adult swims with them. Swimming alone in big water can be scary and could spoil the trip for the kid.
 

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One of the first rules of rescue is to never put yourself in the same potentially dangerous situation on purpose. Yeah, it's probably going to be ok, but having extra eyes and hands on boats to help with pulling swimmers in or recovering a flip is, in my opinion, better than sending people purposely swimming after someone. Maybe in certain situation, and if that person is a good rescue swimmer it's ok, but i'd have trouble doing it for someone who is just swimming.
 

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As stat's go the most dangerous part of the raft trip will be the drive to
GC. Sounds like you have a good handle on white water rafting.
 

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It sounds like you are taking all the right measures that will help insure a safe trip for your kids. I don't know what size raft you are taking, but would highly recomend an 18 footer. 14's flip routinely, even if on your lines. 16's are fairly stable as long as you don't screw up too bad. 18's will rairly flip unless you really screw up. Definetly go right in Bedrock, and at all costs, stay out of the ledge hole in Lava. Enjoy the trip and don't stress too much.
 

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Dont do it ... Thar be dragons... give up your permit ... to me
Seriously, I cant wait till my kids get old enough
I was # 799 when the wait list ended so now I have something like 45 lotto tixs when my kids are ready
anybody wanna go .... in 2015?
 

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worst idea ever.
Curious as to what you suggest as an alternative with kids not old enough to make mature decisions about how to swim the river? Our daughter did her first river trip with us at 8 months old. She was strapped in a floating car seat with a tether (quick release at both ends) to either my wife or I. Are parents to simply not take young kids on river trips? If they do and a kid falls out of the boat what do you think is the parents responsible course of action?
 

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here is a scenario which happened to us a few years ago. Consider how your kids would handle this:

12 yo kid in 16-foot boat, parents very experienced rafters, kid has been rafting since she was an embryo, has jumped in to swim small rapids, very comfortable in whitewater. Everyone on the trip has done the grand at least once; most have done it several times without carnage. 5 rafts, 1 kayak, 10 adults, 1 kid. Reasonable water level.

- boat #1 makes it thru Lava OK
- boat #2 (with the kid in it) flips. One parent hits their head on something hard (like an ammo can, maybe) and comes up with a big head wound but swims to land on river left. Second parent comes up beside the boat, eventually pulls themself onto the top of the upside-down boat. Kid is nowhere to be seen. She is under the boat. She hand-walks herself down to one end, realizes she can't come up on that end, hand-walks herself to the other end of the boat, finally comes up, swims to river left where everyone else is.
- boat #3 flips. One person swims to river left, the other rides the black side downstream
- boat #4 has the ride of a lifetime and both people get washed in and out of the boat at least twice. Somehow they end up in the boat at the end of the rapid
- boat #5 runs Lava on the left and makes it through intact
Of the boats that flipped, NONE of them went into the ledge hole. There's a lot of other stuff in Lava that will flip a boat.

We ended up doing a medevac several miles downstream. Only the injured boater could helicopter out - no passengers, no kids. No trips passed us for several hours. There was no one else around. Later we heard that a commercial trip had also had to medevac out a passenger who hit his head in Lava that day.

So there is a sort of worst case. How would your kids do in this situation? For me, the experience made me completely rethink taking kids on trips. This particular very special kid did amazingly well, but I can't think of many that would have had such presence of mind.
 

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no tengo
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Curious as to what you suggest as an alternative with kids not old enough to make mature decisions about how to swim the river? Our daughter did her first river trip with us at 8 months old. She was strapped in a floating car seat with a tether (quick release at both ends) to either my wife or I. Are parents to simply not take young kids on river trips? If they do and a kid falls out of the boat what do you think is the parents responsible course of action?
1. I've said it before and I'll say it again. If you are going to flip or drop an 8 month on in the river don't take her/him. (Granted nothing is 100% but go with the odds - choose a river where you won't flip unless a meteor strikes your boat).

2. The discussion started out for an 11 year old not an 8 month old. If your 11 year old can't swim without an adult jumping in the river to create a second victim then you should not take your 11 year old.
 

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The issue isn't swimming or not swimming, the issue is making decisions about how to swim or what bank to swim for, or which way to swim around an obstacle. What do you think is the best course of action with say a 7 or 8 year old. I agree that there comes a time when a teenager is old enough to act on their own but there are lots of parents who take younger kids on rivers and I'm curious as to what you and others think is the most reasonable course of action.
When my daughter was 8 months old we only took her on rivers class II or less in canoes and rafts. We did take her down Deso Gray at about 7 yrs old. But things can happen on any moving water. What kind of rescue plan or policy should parents use? My wife and I did talk and plan. In the canoe, the bow paddler was responsible for the kid and tethered when real young. In the raft, since I was usually at the oars, my wife was looking out for the kid.
I don't view a parent swimming a river with a young child necessarily a second victim but a person with a more mature brain who can help the child down the river.

Does the National Park Service have an age limit for children on private trips?

By the way, I'm primarily a canoeist so that it isn't really possible to consider any body of water, moving or otherwise something where turning over the boat is out of the question.
 

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Dry gear is key, so if they swim they will be able to self rescue and keep their wits. So make sure they know how to self rescue, and maybe practice swimming some safe wave trains for good breathing skills.

Talk with them about what do they do if they swim? What choices should they make? Talk with them about the safe exits before each rapid. If they swim, which shore should they try to get to if they have a choice, or should they go for x shore no matter where they are (specific rapid, like no R shore exit in Granite). If you can't have that conversation with them, and believe that they can make those decisions, I wouldn't take them. There's plenty of time, plenty of rivers, and you will make it back sometime later.

Don't run them in the first boat, set safety boats downstream before you run each rapid with them. Swimmers move very fast in the water compared to the pig boats required to haul gear.

It's weird, it's not a difficult river, and it's not huge water. Except in just enough places it is HUGE and anyone can swim/flip. It's not up to us, Neptune's down there waiting for some meat. If you aren't ready to swim/flip with them (or them alone), I wouldn't take them.
 
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