Why “Get Kids Paddling” ? | Part II

Why is Get Kids Paddling needed now more than ever?

Recently we posed the question, Why Get Kids Paddling?

Why Get Kids Paddling?
By Beth Dasno | Outdoor Educator & Mother

I just returned from a 10-day trip with my husband and 2 children (aged 7 & 10) in the St. Raphael area, north of Savant Lake and south of Pickle Lake.  Following this wonderful family adventure, I’m keen to respond to your question, “Why Get Kids Paddling?”

As a high school teacher, one of my favourite subjects to teach is outdoor education and a highlight of these courses is always the canoe training and tripping.  The benefits of teaching kids to paddle are numerous:

  • it promotes team work, quickly driving home the importance of clear communication
  • building paddling skills is a great way to increase confidence and a sense of responsibility in kids
  • in our screen-driven world, exposing kids to this fun, healthy, outdoor activity can introduce a new hobby and inspire positive lifestyle changes
  • canoe tripping challenges participants to deal with adversity, builds grit and generally results in a great sense of accomplishment

From a parent’s perspective, canoeing is a fundamental part of my family’s summer experience.  I started canoeing with my own children (now 7 and 10) before they each reached their first birthdays.  They have grown to love this time and ask for it each year.  I can think of few other experiences that require a family to work together as a unit and allow for such rich bonding as a canoe trip.  The reasons I take my own children paddling can’t all be listed here, but some key ones include:

  • immersing children in wilderness settings results in authentic learning about local flora, fauna, weather and the interrelationships that exist in forest/river/lake ecosystems
  • life slows down and allows time for playing guessing games, making bracelets, reading about insects, catching, cleaning and eating walleye. 
  • developing and growing practical skills like maneuvering a boat safely in headwinds, setting up a safe camp, building fires, tying knots are all so useful throughout life
  • developing an appreciation for our National Heritage and the First Nations people that developed this most incredible craft. 
  • quality time chatting, singing, paddling together in silence and just being together as a family unit is extremely valuable.

My wish is that every Canadian child could have the experience to go on a wilderness canoe trip.  

Thanks for posing the question.  It’s nice to have time to reflect on this as is truly is a passion and always a bit sad to get off the water. “