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 canoe trips with children tips


Recently our family took our first-as-a-family canoe trip together so I could talk about it on the Canton Ohio tourism blog.


We were given a big family canoe, but keep in mind, a family trip down the river like this was a first time experience for all of us and I’ll add – we’re not a camping/ roughing-it-in-the-great-outdoors type of family. Our experience taught me (& hopefully my family) some lessons and this is your chance to gain from our experience. Which brings me to the question I ask on hindsight – To Canoe, or Not to Canoe, with young children?


Obviously there isn’t a right or wrong answer here as in one-size-fits-all. Though this was overall a negative experience for our family,  it was also a positive one because the negative brings out character-training opportunities among other things.  And, if we were to canoe again I now know what I’d like to see done differently.


What we did right.


Bottled water? …Check! 

Snacks? …Check!

Hats, sunglasses and sunscreen? …Check!


Whether we knew it or not, we were all-ready for this canoe trip to teach us a few things about  …canoeing with children.



We were uncomfortable.


First, we were required to wear life-jackets, not a bad idea. However, the jackets were uncomfortable, bulky, some had dried mud or dirt on them. I couldn’t see past it when looking down for items I was searching for in the boat and because I paddled too, the jacket was in the way and bothered my arm.


My husband and I took ours off after a while and my oldest wanted to as well. We didn’t allow the boys to take theirs off because they can’t efficiently swim yet. I did notice that none, if I’m not mistaken, of the  other canoe-ers were wearing theirs at all. I did see one Kayak-er wearing hers though.


My suggestion would be to bring your own life jackets if you have them.


tips for canoeing with children


Second, the canoe didn’t have seats for the boys. They had to sit on cushions/chair pads on the floor of the canoe where there was also sitting water, plus their position left them getting wet from the paddling I did in front of them.


My suggestion would be to (a) give it a try like we did, live and learn or (b) ask ahead about seating for the kids. Find out before you spend the almost $40 to rent the canoe.  In our case we weren’t paying because this was a “work trip” for me.


Third, my husband and I didn’t verify the amount of time the trip was going to take. It was a two-hour trip. *sigh*.   We knew before we fully had experienced it that this was going to be too long to be uncomfortable.


And yes, there was discontent, impatience, and complaining while we were out of our comfort-zone.


canoe trip in Canal Fulton, Ohio


You know what we did? We decided to race to the end, sort of. We made it our goal to reach the end of the 5 miles in less than two hours and we passed every other canoe-er in the process! There weren’t very many people out that day, but if they were between us and the 2nd bridge where we got picked up – we passed them! 🙂



The Stuff that matters.


Now for some good stuff. Last year I had the boys memorizing the whole (6 verse chapter) of Psalm One. Verse three talks about how that we are like a tree planted by the rivers of water when we delight in the Lord! I ask my son to recite that verse in the video as we were passing so many exposed tree roots.

Click here if you can’t see the video.



So this trip put us all in uncomfortable positions for one reason or another and we had to learn to deal with it if we couldn’t fix it. These kinds of experiences in life can teach us endurance, patience, and how to be resourceful – among other things.  It was still a good trip.


Yes, we all survived and I’m thankful for the trip and what we experienced, but I confess – we aren’t planning to go canoeing again as a family any time soon!  🙂



Want more child-proof tips? You might be interested in my 7 Tips for taking Young Children to Cedar Point and other Amusement Parks.