There’s something about rafting and kids that goes well together. Maybe it’s the break from time attached to a screen or studying for a test. Maybe it’s the fun that you, the “adult” get to enjoy while chaperoning your kids on the water. Whatever the reason, whitewater rafting is a great activity for kids and families, for a number of reasons, including:
- It’s a healthy and active way to pass a weekend outdoors
- It encourages teamwork and communication
- It’s fun!
When planning your rafting trip with kids there are some things that you should consider to make the trip safe and successful. Keep reading for our top tips for planning a whitewater trip with kids!
Safety is a huge part of any activity, especially whitewater rafting as it is inherently a bit more dangerous (and a lot more fun!) than many other sports. Having said this, if by taking all necessary precautions with gear and training, risks can be truly minimized. Any reputable whitewater rafting company will handle all of this for you, and will have had the necessary experience and training to ensure that you’ll be in good hands.
Lodging is another important part of any trip. If you choose to go on a weekend long trip, chances are that you’ll be camping riverside; which is an experience in and of itself! Depending on the size and age of your kids, you may find that staying in a larger cabin or a bunkhouse works out better than camping – or it could be the opposite! Try a few different sleeping arrangements until you find the one that fits you (tip: try camping in your backyard at home first for a cheap and easy test run).
Transportation can be the easiest or the most difficult part of any trip – whitewater or otherwise. Depending on where you’re going, you may need to fly or maybe you’re within driving distance of your destination. The good news? The rafts will already be there when you arrive. If you do have to fly and you want to camp or otherwise spend the night under the stars, it is wise to call ahead to your destination to see what they can offer in terms of amenities and advice.
There are several different levels of whitewater rafting, ranging from Class I (most mild) to Class VI (professional). As you can imagine, you’ll be staying on the lower end of this spectrum, maybe going up to Class III at the highest if your children are older and have had some experience with whitewater in the past.
Dress is an important part of any trip, not only from a comfort perspective, but also for safety. Any whitewater rafting outfitter that is reputable will supply you with all necessary safety equipment, including a helmet and safety jacket (both of which should be Coast Guard approved). What you should wear on your trip depends on the time of year, but regardless of season, it is advisable to wear a bathing suit and shoes that will stay on during fast water (and of course, will be okay when wet). For a great guide to what to wear rafting, check out our blog post here.
It may be possible that you want to try some alternative activities during your trip – especially if you’re lucky enough to have a long vacation ;). As oftentimes whitewater rafting is located in close proximity to a number of other outdoor activities, this isn’t difficult to achieve. If you’re heading to the New River Gorge for example, you can also spend time hiking, fishing, horseback riding, playing paintball, stand up paddle boarding, ATV tours, mountain biking, shopping, mountain climbing…… (to name a few).
These are just some general guidelines and thoughts about bringing your kids to the whitewater. Of course, you should always ask your outfitter about any questions or potential concerns that you may have – any experienced group will be happy to help you.
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