As some of you may remember, one of my New Years pledges was to learn a new watersport. We spend so much time as a family on the land that I just wanted to mix things up a bit. Canoeing with kids may seem off-putting to some. Scary even. But, with the right approach and knowledge it needn’t be. My long term dream is to make fairly regular trips with the kids a reality. Maybe even a multi-day, wild camping canoe trips. How cool would that be! So, last weekend, we went over to Bala Lake, hired a canoe and took the kids onto the lake for the first time.
Over the years I’ve done bits of paddling here and there but I’ve never actually taken the time to learn the skills needed to be proficient. ‘Typical male’ I hear you cry! Guilty as charged. This year I wanted to put that right. So, a little while ago, I joined a local canoeing and kayaking club in the hope of improving my skills. I’ve certainly picked the right time of year. Our last couple of evening river sessions have bathed us in glorious sunshine. But, more importantly, I’m loving it.
If I’m loving it, it’s only natural that I’d want to share that experience with my two little minions. Ok, and my slighter bigger one too. If they enjoyed it, then great. But, if they didn’t, no worries; we’ll move on and give them some other experiences to sample. We’re all about giving them as many different experiences as we can so that by the time they are able to pursue one or two properly, they’ll have a great range to choose from.
We’d hired a canoe online with Bala Adventure and Watersports. The process was very easy but we just emailed ahead to check they had buoyancy aids small enough for Amelie and Jesse. They got back to us almost immediately saying this was not a problem. These guys are definitely family friendly!
On arrival we checked in, and were given a quick but necessary safety briefing before heading down to the water. As we had the kids in tow, going in opposite directions as usual, one of the guys from the boathouse gave us a lift down with the canoe, which again was mega helpful. Ok, we hadn’t quite hit the water yet, but this canoeing with kids lark wasn’t too tough so far.
On the water the kids were silent. To put this in perspective, our kids are never silent. They have two volumes: loud and louder. At first we were a little worried, thinking that maybe they were a touch unsettled by the moving canoe. Fortunately they weren’t. They were mesmerised. Reassuringly, normal chatter (and volume) also resumed thereafter.
We paddled and paddled. The weather was glorious, the lake was pretty calm and we all had a great time. Jesse took a paddle at one point and attempted to help us out. It was awesome to see him spontaneously getting involved. Meanwhile, Nat had moved with Amelie to the front of the boat where, despite her limited vocabulary and baby babble, she started to direct proceedings.
Once back on land we had a shoreline picnic, got our feet wet paddling and skimmed some stones. Canoeing with kids, it turns out, is an awesome day out and experience. We can’t wait for our next canoe adventure.