It’s hot. It’s summer. Water is good. Being active is good.
How can we combine it all? In a kayak!
What is a Kayak?
A kayak is a traditional water craft that was invented by the Inuit of the north. Originally it was built using a wooden frame covered in seal skins. Today’s kayaks are made of all sorts of great plastics and other new-age materials. In fact, last weekend out in the mountains we saw a couple out in inflatable kayaks! (They don’t recommend them as they are a lot of work to inflate and put together. The one I am going out in tomorrow won’t be inflatable nor made from seal skin. I’m sticking to space age materials. 😉 )
Why Kayaks Rock For Kids
Kayaks are easy for kids to use because of their double-ended paddles. In other words, they have that great scoop on each end making it simple for kids to hold and paddle. As well, kayaks are lower to the water and surprisingly stable meaning it is easy for kids to reach the water to paddle (compared to a canoe), control, maneuver, and basically have a rip roaring good time with little in terms of knowledge or even great motor control.
Kayaks for Kids Tips
If you aren’t sure about letting your offspring out in a kayak alone, consider these ideas:
- Try a double kayak. These kayaks hold two people so a parent can go out with their kids meaning you can take longer outings without worrying your child will wander off, get super frustrated, or get tuckered half way to your destination. As well, many of the non-molded seat kayaks allow you to take out the extra seat and move the remaining seat to the middle making it a single kayak.
- Tie a rope to the end of the kayak. If your child is out in a kayak alone, consider tethering them. You can tether their kayak to a dock, to your kayak, or simply hold the end of the rope or buoyant heaving line as they paddle about. If they get in trouble, you can reel them back in.
- Consider a simple, light weight, wide and stable kayak. In other words, an all round, all purpose kayak (inexpensive–more for fun & mucking about than serious rough water use) that maybe doesn’t even have a hole to sit in. (You sit on top and the top is molded down making it a simple place to sit without worries of having your child get stuck if they do manage to tip the thing over. (Surprisingly difficult to do with most kayaks.)
- When learning how to kayak, choose the shallows. Also choose a water area with little to no wake or waves. Don’t use a skirt (tucks around your waist and holds you into the kayak and keeps the waves out) on the kayak that will hold your child in. Let them fall out of the kayak instead. As well, ALWAYS make sure your child wears a proper fitting lifejacket. Make sure the local waters are safe (no undertow, far from weirs, no swift currents, etc.). Also be sure to place the boating emergency kit that is required for your area in the kayak. These emergency boating kits often include items such as a buoyant heaving line, a working flashlight, whistle, and bailing bucket.
How to Get Your Hands on a Kid-Friendly Kayak:
Rent one! See if you like kayaking. Sporting good places sometimes rent them as do some camps, and sometimes there will be a rental place right there at your favourite lake.
Borrow one! Know someone who has the gear? See if you can borrow it or if they will take you out.
Second hand! Check the local paper, check online… you know the drill.
Specialty sporting goods stores! Ask an expert what they think you may need and get yourself outfitted. (Sometimes you can rent an item and if you decide to purchase it, your rental cost will go towards the cost of purchase.)
Ready? Let’s go kayaking with the kids!
How about you? Have you been out kayaking? Have your kids? What did you/they think?
It’s Tweetable (made easy):
— Jean Oram (@KidsPlay) July 12, 2012