Sunday, 23 March 2014

Canoe Camping with Kids

Last year I had the privilege of working with a very skilled and very passionate Canoeing Instructor Travis Frenay. He instilled in me a LOVE of canoeing and the ability to control a boat, as I desire... even to look good when doing it :)

I really enjoyed our weekends out as a group, and was really surprised at just how much skill we were able to acquire in a relatively small period of time. Although I don't make it look like magic (like Travis does) I feel very comfortable making the canoe do what I want it to.

I was also excited by the possibility of being able to fit the kids in the boat, with Nath and I, and all the camping gear. We are keen to buy a boat, but wanted to see how to kids went in the canoe before investing.

As I started to pack I realised how much more stuff was needed for a family of 4. I am used to throwing together the minimum. If I forget something, it doesn't really matter, I'll make do. With the kids in tow... I needed to remember everything x 4. I started to worry about fitting it all in the boat and leaving enough room for the kids. The boat we were hiring was smaller than the one we would buy. The man at the hire place was worried we wouldn't fit in. I assured him we would... I just needed at assure myself :)

When the boats and barrels arrived I looked at my pile of 'stuff' and set to work. I can pack well... no space wasted. I got all of our gear down to 2 barrels and 2 school bag sized back packs. I was chuffed. The barrels went in and the kids straddled their backpacks as seats.

We were loaded... completely self sufficient in one boat.  A heavy boat, but set to go. We were all kitted with PFD's and set off on our adventure.

The kids were relaxed and calm, not anxious at all (thank goodness!) I was worried about us bring slower than the group, as we were so loaded. But with Nath and I muscling along, we powered through the water.

The kids loved it! We loved it! Bring on the water, off on an adventure, with my whole family in one boat... that is what we live for.

I had a smile from ear to ear.

Once the kids got even more comfortable in the boat we hit a few hurdles. They wanted to lean over the edge... but in a laden boat that was a little to much 'tilt' for my liking. They also LOVED paddling... but with only 2 paddles that meant one of us was unable to paddle. Therefore we went nowhere fast.

I see both of these as very 'fixable'. A bigger boat would be less laden and we have an extra paddle or 2 for playing in the water with. Easy fixed.

For kids, it really is a long time sitting in one place. But with the spectacular beauty around us they were pretty engaged. With the amazing feeling of gliding over the water, they were pretty engaged.

A few tips and tricks to when they get restless...
- Paddle close to shore and spot all the interesting things you would other wise miss. Lillies, lizards, waterfalls...
- Play games like 'I Spy'
- Sing... loud... fill the valley with your family in song
- Have plenty of snacks with you
- Have an extra paddle
- Stop every few kilometers to explore, stretch legs and have a swim!

There is no rush. I believe that when adventuring with kids it is important to factor in a lot of exploring time to the schedule. If we become goal oriented we miss the adventure along the way. In a canoe we are paddling to places we cannot get to by foot... make the most of it!

We had a wonderful weekend away. The kids took to the boat like a house on fire. Orlando even makes an awesome paddler. This is definitley something we wont to do again, often. So with a canoe set up (We-no-nah) now on the cards, we are excited to start planning many more adventures. Exploring places you can only see by boat.


  1. Great write up. I have 3 girls of my own, and we started acting like British explorers. So we had someone in charge of provisions, navigation, etc.. The kids really have fun that way. Good luck with all your future tripping!

    1. Great idea! I'll pack some extra copies of maps next time!