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Kids and Canoes, a match made in heaven

When I originally came up with the idea for One Tree Canoe, I was a single parent with young children looking for something to get them outdoors. My thinking was that there were few better ways to get your kids outdoors than in a canoe. A single adult can easily paddle a canoe load of kids and snacks down a river or across a lake without a lot of worry. Turns out I was onto something, so what makes a canoe such a great vehicle to use with kids? Let me elaborate for you.


Firstly, and most importantly, canoes were designed to carry stuff. From the earliest of times, canoes were a boat made to carry nomadic hunter gatherer communities with all their worldly goods from one place to the next. Anything from freshly caught game, the makings of a shelter and your extended family, got bundled into the family canoe to carry to the next campsite. Canoes were the dual cab ute of times gone by!


The canoe back then had a few key requirements it had to fulfil. It had to carry a load, move through the water efficiently and be a stable, forgiving platform to hunt and fish from. Which is what makes it a perfect craft to load up with a bunch of kids and get out on the water. If a canoe can carry a family of native Americans complete with dogs, Tipis and camp gear, it sure as hell can carry you and a bunch of kids (and probably still a dog).


If you had to sum up a canoe in one word, that word would be versatile. Like the aforementioned Dual-cab Ute, the canoe is a real swiss army knife of a vehicle. Being such a capable load carrier means that it can carry a variety of loads in a variety of ways. And any parent knows that doing anything with kids requires flexibility. So, what does this mean in practice? It means you have options when deciding what your journey out on the water looks like. Dad and 2 kids, no problems. Mum, Dad and a couple of smaller kids in the middle, no problem. 2 bigger kids in together, no problem. Mum out having a solo paddle, no problem. 6 kids from the local footy team piling into the same canoe, sure, no problem (they are definitely going for a swim though). My point is that the humble canoe, within reason, can handle those changing requirements, without a great deal of worry. And that is what makes it a great choice for families wanting to get out on the water.


We get a lot of young, and not so young, families buying canoes for this reason. They want a family boat that can be used by varying combinations of the family group that will change as the kids get older.


A classic example for us is the standard 2 adult, 2 small children family unit buying a 3 seat, 15 foot canoe. The canoe starts out loaded up for family outings with an adult front and back and the 2 kids side by side in the middle. This combination is ace for little ones as they need to sit close to the outside of the canoe anyway so they can get their paddle in the water. One kid now counterbalances the other, squirming aside. In fact, sometimes when the kids are still small, we recommend not having a middle seat at all and just sitting them down on a rubber camping mat on the floor. As they get older, they will eventually want their own seat.


Back to our 2+2 family, they’ve arrived at a campground and are now just noodling around in the water. The family canoe is now being paddled by Adult 1 with the 2 kids whilst adult 2 is having a glass of wine back on shore. Smart move, adult 2! The trusty family canoe with a kid each in the front and middle seat and Adult 1 in the back, is moving along just as nicely as it did with Adult 2 in. Suggest Adult 1 keep that revelation to themselves though…

Adult 1 and the kids return to shore and now Adult 2 decides to take the family canoe out for a nice solo paddle to enjoy a spot of fishing and watch the sunset. Told you Adult 2 was the smart one! Again, the trusty family canoe is up for the task.


In fact the only change we normally see in this hypothetical vision of family bliss is the purchase of a new canoe for the Adults when the kids get old enough to commandeer the family canoe for themselves. Cue teenage adventure camping weekends, well we can only hope!


The last point about canoes is that they are fun. Their stability on the water means that kids can be kids! They can stand up, squirm about, splash their mates and generally have a fun time without a great deal of concern. Unless you happen to be the luckless adult caught in the middle of all that. It’s a large part of the reason that lots of local councils are including canoe sessions in their school holiday programs and scout groups nearly always have a fleet of canoes for their campgrounds. I’ve also seen many an adult release their inner child in a splashing war with the kids on a hot day.


If you’re interested in great games to play with kids in canoes, we have a very long list which we have cultivated from years of running scout and school holiday programs. Want the kids to sleep well at night, send them out canoeing for a few hours. Your family canoe is a sure fire way to burn off manic child energy!


For more information about how to have a fantastic time with your kids in a canoe, please give us a call. We can offer advice on great places to take the family, hiring canoes or taking a guided tour, running a birthday party with a difference or even purchasing a new family canoe to start your own adventures. We’d love to see you on the water


Dan and Sue

One Tree Canoe Company

One Tree Canoe Adventures

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