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Discussion Starter #1
My wife is prego with our first. I am a high school teacher so not really use to little ones. I was wondering realistically at what age can you take a child....

on a flat water trip? as in a river that has some current but no whitewater. My thoughts are if they can swim and wear a PFD, that seams realistic to me.

easy whitewater?

I know not all kids are the same but trying to see how long til we're back doing overnighters. Trying to plan for the future was hopping to get to do gates of lodore before this happened.
 

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We started successful trips with our kids at 4. Four day green river trip then a 5 day San Juan at age 5. Life jackets all the time, lots of snacks, iPad full of videos when kids starting going downhill. Bringing friends along helped and an IK to shuttle raft to raft. Good luck!
 

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We started successful trips with our kids at 4. Four day green river trip then a 5 day San Juan at age 5. Life jackets all the time, lots of snacks, iPad full of videos when kids starting going downhill. Bringing friends along helped and an IK to shuttle raft to raft. Good luck!
Cool that's what I was looking for
 

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There are lots of threads on this so search around. I took my son on the Sacramento when he was 1 and 2. If I had it to do over again I would have found a baby sitter and had way more fun.

I took him on a 4 day john day trip when he was 3 and it was fucking awesome. Point being, wait till your kid can at least stand and walk and talk and the diaper changing is minimal or non existent. Its alot less work and alot more fun. Just my experience though.
 

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We started taking our oldest niece down the Wallowa-Grande Ronde when she was 2.5 years old, but her parents started lugging her around car camping when she was 2 months old. The younger niece started doing multi-day rafting trips when she was 3.5 on the Wallowa Grande Ronde. We started taking them on multi-way rivers with more significant whitewater when they were 5.
 

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We started taking our oldest niece down the Wallowa-Grande Ronde when she was 2.5 years old, but her parents started lugging her around car camping when she was 2 months old. The younger niece started doing multi-day rafting trips when she was 3.5 on the Wallowa Grande Ronde. We started taking them on multi-way rivers with more significant whitewater when they were 5.
shappattack, agree, getting the kids comfortable in the outdoors with an easy escape plan is key. I started camping with my son in a tent in the basement. He stayed up until 5am jumping on ground pads and crawling in and out of the tend. I was grateful my bed was only a flight of stairs away.
 

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I have a 5 year old and 2 year old. Bought a raft this summer. Did my first overnight with both kids this summer.

If you're starting very young (2), get out car camping a bit first, just to get them used to camping when you have an easy way to bail out. It's a lot easier to throw all the crap in the truck and drive home than it is to get off the river. We had to do that once when we forgot her pacifier, which she was still sleeping with at the time. We decided it didn't make sense for everyone to have a crappy night, so we had a nice picnic dinner and then rolled home.

Until the girls are comfortable swimming solo, free from the boat in whitewater (we're not there yet), I'm not going to take them on anything that's solidly Class III. I'd consider a single Class III rapid that is backed up by a pool with the 5-year old, but only if we have another adult in the boat who is dedicated to kid-duty. But for the most part, no whitewater that has any sort of real chance of flipping the boat until they're "comfortable" swimming in Class III (comfortable = won't die, won't be scarred for life).

For the 2-year old, another adult in the boat on kid duty is mandatory.

Also, start with short trips. One night is a good length - gets everyone in the swing of things, but if things start to go sideways you have the "out" of either "we'll be home tomorrow" or "we'll be home today." Then step your way up to longer trips.

Lots of snacks and an emergency ipad are good suggestions. It's remarkable how many snacks small kids can eat on a boat all day.

Shade is also important if you're doing hot desert floats.
 

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yeah what others basically said. Mostly get them first comfortable living in the dirt for a while. Once they understand the idea of camping out than getting on a water is a pretty easy jump. We took the spawn on Ruby Horsethief I think when he was 3. There were like 12 kids under 5 on that trip and IT WAS AWESOME. they are always in their PFD so I felt pretty good letting them jump in and out of the boat and float etc. Shade,snacks and lots of water and sunscreen is key.
We took them mostly on float trips until maybe 5 years old or so. Now we raft with him up to class III but in all the rapids its 1 adult to 1 child in the boat as I am busy oaring so it gets more difficult with more kids- duh.
Have fun- its awesome.
 

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I agree with everyone else.

My girls are 17 and 19. Had the oldest out rafting on class II when she was almost 2 and my wifey was 7mo pregnant with her little sister. We got on the river late and didn't have enough snacks. She cried for about the last 1.5 hours because she was tired and hungry and needed a nap, but couldn't lay in the floor of the bucket boat and my wife was so preggo she didn't have a lap and couldn't hold her. We laugh about it now, but it was a miserable day.

So we took them out another 3 years later when I had my own self bailer and snacks and a short trip and things were awesome awesome.

Swimming lessons (aqua tots) at 1yo. Swimming with no life jacket in the pool at 5 and 7. They started swimming easy rapids at 6 and 8. Jumping off cliffs and bridges at 7 and 9.

Go car camping and adjust your expectations so your expectations meet theirs. Keep it simple, fun, and easy. Don't rush it. You'll be old one day and so will they, and you won't ever regret the easy trips.
When your kids are young, the days are long, but the years are short.

When the kiddo is 7-8-9-10, that Gates of Lodore trip is going to be amazeballs.|
 

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My wife and I had good success this summer with our 13 to 15-month-old on a couple of 3-day green river multi-day trips and several north platte trips this summer. Just understand that long days are not on the books anymore. We also took her last summer on very mellow short floats as young as 1 month old. Get a comfortable lifejacket they can wear. Also other than the obvious snacks/drinks I feel that the big thing is being able to have shade for your baby... get yourself a bimini from amazon.
 

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We started camping with my daughter super early about 7-8 months old. We also scored two san juan permits her first summer so of course she had to come along. 5 day upper san juan at 10 months old. She's a little over two now and has 3 ruby trips under her belt, quite a few upper colorado day trips, and a san juan. We always bring lots of other experienced boaters with us when she goes on multi days with us. She loves being on the river, just putting the boat in the back of the truck gets here all fired up and lucky she loves to wear her life jacket. Hardest part for us is getting her to nap on the boat. Even a comfy spot on a padded dry box in the shade isn't enough some days and she can turn into a monster quick, but the days she naps on the boat are great. I love the ipad idea, will have to use that one. Always bring a ton of snacks but minimal toys, a 3 gallon bucket is her best friend on the river. Fill it with rock so she can throw them in the river or fill it with water so she can splash around in the bow. And of course a sand shovel and a bucket and normally a barbie keep her very occupied on the beach. The pictures of her using the groover before she was even two are one of my favorites. You will get alot of negative feed back from people about bringing a young one on the river but for me it comes down to what my wife and I are comfortable with. This is our lifestyle and she is going to be part of it, not the other way around. I will add that taking her on the river before she could walk was way less work than now that she is mobile.
 

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Dave and Toni Frank raised a river baby, Riley, who took his first steps at one of the campsites on the Upper Colorado.

LINK: Riley Frank

If you go their route, just remember that you'll have to replace drysuits and boats every year or two for a lot of years.

There should be a few other threads below this one on the topic.
 
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with just 1, we had our 1st on the glenwood town run at 6mos. with 2, it was closer to 1.5 yrs, but that's also partly due to seasons and handling 2 at the same time. with a 3rd, we were on the water at 9months and a 2nd set of adult hands.

many day trips down upper C, glenwood, south canyon, milk run on the ark, and stone bridge to salida. multiday....now that's a different story.

make sure you have shade, a full brim hat with a strap those little hands can't rip off, and swap out a 6pack for a gallon of milk.
 

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I've been on San Juan and Desolation trips with kids as young as 8 months. I guess it depends on how much work the parents are willing to put up with taking care of the little ones. My kids were on the river while still in diapers on single day floats, overnight river trips once potty trained. Both started camping shortly after being born and learned to walk while camping. They were Captains of their own boats through Westwater, Yampa, Deso, Salt, etc by age 13.
 

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Watching the kiddos on the boat is given, but at least they are "contained". The fun for parents and willing co-parents on the trip begins when the little guys/gals hit the shore....incidents on shore are very common, that's not to say the kids can't fall down, get a mouth full of sand and be perfectly OK....just be aware of areas with red ants (horrible stinging, throbbing bite!), obvious stumble rocks and sharp roots, what goes in their mouths (they are so quick!) and keep the adult beverages and goodies out of reach. Bring plenty of kid appropriate meds for scrapes and scratches, that little tickle in the throat, etc. Kudos to the kiddos on the river!
 

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I am now a HS science teacher after 24 years of teaching 7th and 8th grade, (It is always a great idea to change everything during a pandemic) My oldest started on the water at 8 months, on moving water. I found an infant PFD with a crotch strap from west marine, and had him in a kiddie tub (not strapped down) and under an umbrella. He slept the whole time. By 4 he was running II-III water with me, and the big things I found was
1) I always had him in a shorty wetsuit
2) I always had a ton of snacks
3) Always had lots of treats for the take out
4) Don't take kids down water you are not comfortable having them swim.
5) Only you can determine what is best for your cherubs.
6) Water guns are a hoot. (the
As long as he was hydrated and well fed, it was a great time. He was in a ducky at 7, twister at 9, and his hardboat by 13, he has a solid roll, and is becoming a pretty solid raft driver too... he is rowing class IV. His younger siblings are following the same course. I have taken my time introducing them to harder water, and my oldest has had a few rough swims, but because he has worked up to the harder water, he does not think so. I also have friends who's kids dont boat because they had rough experiences early on in their paddling careers.
The big thing is that it should be fun, and then it will be awesome. My kids had about 24 river days since Covid blew up, and spent the rest of the time tearing it up on mountain bikes. I run the kids in a lynx II, JPW culebra ( which I can R1 with 2 extra kiddies with me, ) and a superpuma that is a dream to R2 with mom and the two littles.

Have fun...
 

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My wife is prego with our first. I am a high school teacher so not really use to little ones. I was wondering realistically at what age can you take a child....

on a flat water trip? as in a river that has some current but no whitewater. My thoughts are if they can swim and wear a PFD, that seams realistic to me.

easy whitewater?

I know not all kids are the same but trying to see how long til we're back doing overnighters. Trying to plan for the future was hopping to get to do gates of lodore before this happened.
Alot depends on your comfort zone, it's a slow progression as they grow up, but worth every moment you get, to spending time with them , for sure. Keep them involved in every aspect of river running from rowing, repairing, rigging, cooking, fire starting, camping, ax throwing contest's, fishing, geography of the river, deer poop, self- reliance, confidence, etc. As they get older first-aid and CPR(a must) classes. It's important to keep their interest up, so they get excited to go rafting, alot of that depends on you(tell them alot of campfire stories). But don't stop there, share all your other interests with them, with me it was skiing, big game hunting, shooting, climbing and flying. I have three great girls, 29 36 and 45 years old.
 

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Curtisahlers - NRS has a great blog titled, Duct Tape Diaries - I particularly liked this post about rafting with kids...and all of the packing details it entails.
We started early with our kids - easy rivers - and progressed from there. Have a blast and start those memories!
Darryl - SLC
Retired HS Educator

Family Rafting 101: The Packing Breakdown
July 10, 2019 by Lindsay DeFrates
Family Rafting 101: The Packing Breakdown
 

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I might be the last person to give actual parenting advice, but I have taken many many kids on multi-day river trips from 2 years old to teenagers and everything in between. I have observed how different parents managed their kids on the river. Not too be too harsh, but I strongly suggest that taking an iPad full of videos to distract a kid on the river is doing a disservice to them in the long run. I think the river is the last place to bring such a thing. If the kid is heading down hill toward a melt down at the end of the day, then maybe its just time to camp, get that hammock strung up and put them down for a nap. Maybe you just need shorter days and account for that. What I do know is that kids can be distracted for endless hours by fishing and using binoculars. On shore they can be distracted for hours with a dip net and container getting after fish, tadpoles, and bugs, or spend hours in a hammock (without the need of an electronic device). They love all types of games, helping cook, and eating desert. For kids old enough (6 to 7) a simple pocket knife whittling on a stick can last for hours. Kids that get into rocks will hunt for hours for agates, petrified wood, and fossils. Dogs are also an all day source of entertainment. They love to help make pizza and even help with chores, like manage the hang bag water filter. I think a problem could be that if you need an iPad at home to distract a kid, you probably are setting up for the same situation in the woods unfortunately.

The biggest thing I have learned, do not under estimate the value of teaching a kid to fish, this will keep most kids occupied all day long (start them out on it at age 3 to 4).

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