Canoeing with Kids – How to have a successful trip

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Canoeing is an amazing activity that both adults and kids will love, but doing anything for the first time with kids can be pretty complicated. With a bit of planning, you can ensure that everyone has a good time. Here are some tips for canoeing with kids that will help keep everyone safe and engaged.

Canoeing with kids

To learn about a variety of canoe strokes, visit Canoe Strokes that you should learn.

Packing List for Canoeing with Kids


Start by packing the essentials before you depart. Some of the essential supplies for canoeing with kids include:

  • Life jackets (you can also use Coast Guard-approved water wings for kids if they’re uncomfortable in life jackets)
  • Waterproof rain boots or sandals with straps
  • Sun protection including hats and lots of SPF
  • Extra clothing for kids in case what they’re wearing gets wet
  • Plenty of snacks in plastic baggies
  • Water to keep everyone hydrated
  • Toilet paper for bathroom emergencies
  • Extra paddles

PFD's Personal Floatation Devices, Life Vests

Picking the Perfect Spot

The best location for canoeing with kids is somewhere you know well. You probably shouldn’t choose to explore a place for the first time when you’re bringing the kids. Of course, kids will get tired easily, so plan for a short and easy canoe trip. If possible, find a place that has some kind of bathroom access nearby.


The time you choose to canoe is just as important as the place you’re paddle. Ideally, pick the morning. You want to avoid mid-day when it will be extra hot and kids will be more likely to burn.

Canoes on a lake

Safety First when Canoeing with Kids

Before you begin your watery journey, outline the rules for kids. Setting clear expectations for each child beforehand will make the experience a smooth one. Guidelines for canoeing with kids should include:

  • No standing up in the canoe
  • Leaning over the side of the canoe is not recommended
  • Stay in your designated spot/seat
  • Life jackets stay on and secured at all times


Everyone should have a designated spot in the canoe that they don’t leave when the canoe is moving. One adult should be in charge of steering, which will mean they should take the back seat. The other adult will go in the front to paddle as needed. Whoever is in the front will be able to more closely watch the children when they’re not paddling.


What each child is doing will depend on how old they are. If you have a baby, put them in a soft carrier. Toddlers can stand securely in between your legs in the canoe’s bow. Kids who are a little older can do some paddling if they stay in the center crossbars or the middle seat and they may also sit at the bottom of the boat if preferred.

Canoeing with kids

Take Breaks

Even if you’ve worked hard to plan a short canoeing trip with kids that won’t tire them out, they’ll still probably need some breaks. Stay on the lookout for areas along the shore that might be exciting to explore. Leave time for eating and maybe even some swimming! You may not get as far across the water, but you’ll have maximum fun when canoeing with kids.


Don’t let the daunting nature of canoeing with kids for the first time stop you. It’s a fun activity that the whole family can enjoy!


For more tips on canoeing with children, check out this article from Old Town Canoes.

By OutdoorZ.Life Staff

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Click here to see: “First Solo Canoe Trip

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