Monday, May 07, 2012

A Lesson in Paddling with Kids and a review of the Remix 47

I have been lucky enough to paddle with my brother since we were young, and I consider myself very fortunate to have started as early as I did.  My brother now has a posse of rugrats that he started paddling with far younger than we were in our beginning.  It has been an indescribable pleasure to create a kayak that makes paddling fun, and safe, for his kids.  He wrote this article recently about his experiences paddling with children, including his own, and using the Remix 47 to help them love kayaking.  Shane

I play with kids in the outdoors for a living.  I teach math at a private high school in Colorado.  I am also a ski coach and run the river program.  Part of the magic of doing what I do is being there at that moment when they go through their first rapid, or sit on their first wave. 

When I suddenly had kids of my own and was worried about how to help them love outdoor sports, I went back to the cardinal rules of leading Students.

  1. Safety
  2. Fun
  3. Learning

If kids feel safe, and are having fun, they will learn. Through experience taking my kids out I have to add one - Bring Snacks!!!  So here they are, the cardinal rules of taking kids into the outdoors.

  1. Bring snacks
  2. Make them feel safe
  3. Keep it fun
  4. Bring snacks
  5. Encourage them to explore
  6. Bring snacks.  

Make them feel safe - I want to highlight the feel safe thing.  That is what the Remix 47 is all about.  In the 47, kids can get where they want to go.  They do not spin out on eddy lines. 

They can lean the wrong way entering and exiting eddies.  It is buoyant enough they don’t have to wear a skirt.  The best part is they don’t notice it.  They can just go play.  That is true for the wide variety of kids that I have had in this boat from my little girl at 4 years to smaller freshmen in high school.  They get in and feel comfortable.  

Keeping it fun - Nothing is more frustrating to a new kayaker than not being able to go straight.   The longer shape of the Remix allows them to do this. They can catch waves and move around the river easily, saving time for fun.

Let Them Explore   - Though everyone learns differently, kids tend to be doers.  They like to feel.  They like to poke around in the bushes and wiggle their paddles in the water. All that exploration forms the foundation of an innate sense of balance and comfort in a boat that cannot be learned any other way.  I have been skiing for longer than all of my students have been alive.  However there are certain things that they can do simply because they started by exploring around when they were two.  That is born out of goofing around with friends.

When they are ready for more, they will ask.  Otter, my oldest, asked for a skirt  at age 8 after 3 - 4 season of paddling without one.  He asked about draws.  He even eventually asked to learn to roll.  15 minutes later, he did roll.  But what I love best about the Remix was it was harder for him to tip it over then roll it up.  So go out and let your kids explore.  

Oh, and don’t forget to bring snacks.

Here is a link to our Kids Trip on the Chattooga River.
Here is a video of Otter learning his roll soon after he asked to try it.


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