Canoe Camping with Kids

Canoe camping is a great way to introduce your kids to the great outdoors, and to the sport you love, but things change when you add little ones to the equation.


- Know first aid and how to prevent accidents.
– Make sure everyone is well fed, rested, and warm at all times.
– Cook on a stove – not on a fire – because it is easier to keep kids away from it.
– Keep harmful things (medicine, stove fuel, etc.) out of the reach of children.
– Train the kids not to get things out of packs by themselves; use childproof containers to store harmful or important items whenever possible.
– If you have a nursing baby, be prepared for a dramatic increase in the number of nursings per day.
– If you have a baby who is in the mush stage, pour out the jars into a food dehydrator for packing. They can be reconstituted with a little warm water.
– Use dehydrated meats and vegetables for older kids, along with fruit, cheese, and sausage.
– Use powdered formula for milk.
– Bring snacks like cheerios, rice cakes, marshmallows, popcorn, jerky, and dried fruit.
– Bring a water filter for the water.
– Burn old diapers in a fire.
– Long sleeve shirts, sunscreen, bug spray and pants will help protect kids from sun and bugs.
– Plan to paddle uninterrupted around their nap time. They will sleep in the boat while you paddle.
– Make sure the kids have a PFD on while in the boat.
– Have familiar nap time items like blankets and teddy bears.
– Plan a sleeping configuration in the tent so all of you can fit in the tent. Make sure the kids are comfortable and can’t slip out at night.
– Bring bed-time books to help put them to sleep.
– When the kids are older, have an “all kid” tent.
– Learn to carry a canoe solo. Don’t expect kids to walk on portages. Somebody will have to carry them.
– Have some waterproof toys tied to the gunwales with string, and pack the others with the tent. Remember sticks and rocks make great play-toys at campsites.
– Pack kids clothes for warm and cool weather.
– Pack raingear for kids.
– Pack plenty of extra underwear and socks for the kids.
– Pack a plastic wipable bib for mealtime.
– You will go slower than what you are used to. Remember to plan for frequent stops and allow extra time to get things done.
– Plan a rest day; you can drop it if you are way behind schedule.
– Pack several half rolls of toilet paper, instead of one large roll, in case something happens to one of them.
– Don’t take chances with kids in the boat.
– Kids won’t like the rain or cold, so be prepared to abandon a trip under these conditions.


Paddling and camping with kids can be lots of fun, but plan ahead, taking in all considerations for the kids’ safety, comfort and enjoyment, and chances are you will have a great time sharing the outdoors with kids.

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