Taking Your Kids Boating | Comprehensive Guide
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Share the Joy of Boating with Your Kids

Boating is a worthwhile, fun adventure for anyone who goes out. However, when children are involved, it unlocks a myriad of additional benefits. Of course, a cruise with friends can be rewarding and memorable. But the hidden benefits for kids and families when they boat together are long lasting. Families who are known for closeness and relationships that remain strong after the children reach adulthood have certain things in common. Many of them spend time together engaged in activities where they interact with each other. Camping is the example most given by social scientists, but boating offers the same opportunity for extended periods of time as a family without the distractions of the outside world. Here are ten reasons to consider bringing your kids on a boating trip, and what time on the water will do for all of you.

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No Screens on the Boat

Smart phones, televisions, laptops, tablets, and e-readers call for a lot of attention these days. Even car trips often come complete with backseat DVD movie players for the kids. When at restaurants, it is not unusual to constantly check your phone for missed messages and updates. Boating, especially at sea, pulls you away from many cell and Wi-Fi signals, and gives you the opportunity to spend quality time with one another once again.

Share an Adventure

Boating is often about exploring new places. As a family, this gives you an opportunity to all take a new, exciting adventure. Many things are new for children, but when you share an unknown place with them, it puts you all on equal footing, and allows kids to feel like an integral part of planning. Researching maps and moorage sites, plotting your course on a chart, and deciding what landmarks and wildlife to watch for can all be something shared as a family. It is important when you do this not to pre-plan or have expectations for what your kids will choose. Be open to letting them surprise you. It may lead to the best vacation you have ever had.

Pack a Picnic for Your Boat

If you have picky kids who wrinkle their noses at anything but white bread and nuggets, maybe it is time to consider a new hobby. Fishing allows you not only to spend time with your children, but it also allows them the privilege of bringing home the family’s dinner. This creates the opportunity for your child to feel like they are a part of the meal, which is often enough to make them want to try something new. Coldwater fish like tuna and salmon are also high in Omega-3 oils, which are great for brain function and combating depression. If you have never cooked fish for your family, come prepared with a good recipe you are willing to try,and make sure someone knows how to fillet. Fish is tastiest when it is fresh, so cleaning it and bringing it straight to the grill will increase your opportunity for success over the pickiness.

Discover a New Passion

One of the best things about boating is that there are many learning opportunities available. Navigation, history, learning to pilot the boat, and science are just a few of the places where you can learn. One fun possibility is to let your children take the lead in the direction where you are planning to look for teachable moments. Boating includes with it so many possibilities for new passions. You can follow the route of pirates or explorers on long journeys and search for treasure and artifacts. You can learn your birds, marine mammals, or fish, and keep a checklist on board of all the different varieties you see. Or you can learn a new boating-related hobby that your child is interested in, be it fishing, tidepooling, regatta racing or log runs (like rallies for boats), clam digging, kayaking, swimming, diving, snorkeling, etc. The key is to let your child help foster the direction, and to not only encourage them in their exploration of the new hobby, but to be open minded enough to try and learn something yourself.

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Group Exercise

Many of us live a much more sedentary lifestyle than we once did. Boating is a great way to have fun and exercise as a family. There are a number of opportunities to get a workout while on board a boat. These include:Foster Success: Boating can be a great, safe way to allow children to take charge of a situation, and to make and recover from natural mistakes. Teaching kids how to capsize and recover on a single-person sailing boat, or allowing a child to choose a navigational course, within reason, is a great way to give them the opportunity to be in charge, and to correct mistakes as they occur.

Motoring to your favorite swimming or snorkeling hole: a good afternoon’s swim is a great way to stretch muscles, have a low-resistance cardiovascular workout, and have a fabulous time splashing around with the kids.

Kayaking, canoeing and stand-up paddleboarding are wonderful ways to try a new sport and get a close view of lots of wildlife or scenic, shallow areas. Tandem kayaks are a fun thing to experience with kids, and gives everyone a chance to paddle and get a good workout. These are all easily beachable boats, which also allows for a good hike or exploration of islands or remote beach areas without roads.

Sailing can be a good workout, particularly if you teach your kids about the different sails, and have them practice setting up and taking down rigging. Though this is not something that would be done just anywhere, teaching a child about one hand for the boat, one for themselves as they move up to the bow or onto a fly bridge is a good way to help them understand safety.

Other Fun Ideas for Boating with Your Family

Foster Success: Boating can be a great, safe way to allow children to take charge of a situation, and to make and recover from natural mistakes. Teaching kids how to capsize and recover on a single-person sailing boat, or allowing a child to choose a navigational course, within reason, is a great way to give them the opportunity to be in charge, and to correct mistakes as they occur.

Explore: Boating is a great way to allow children to find what interests them, and what does not. Let your child choose a destination, within a set radius, and plan the day’s activities. You can ask for certain restrictions, but giving them the power to plan for themselves, and the family, translates into making good choices for their life as well.

Relax: Boating takes you away from the many other obligations that life gives you, and gives the kids an opportunity to remember what Mom and Dad look like when they are just having fun. Unsurprisingly, this is often more important for them to see than the organizers, breadwinners, housekeepers, landscapers, and disciplinarians that you also must be on a regular basis.

Create Lasting Closeness: Families who are comfortable spending time alone together naturally gravitate to one another even when life happens. The children who spend their adult years speaking and engaging regularly with their own parents can often recall many fun trips and adventures together. Boating is one great way to foster this closeness, whether it be a day waterskiing on the lake, renting a group of kayaks together, or taking a week’s sailing cruise around the Caribbean.

The Takeaway

Parents do a lot of things with the long-term plan for their children in mind, but at the end of the day, it is also good to remember to laugh and play together with no other purpose outside of that. Spending a day on the water is one of the most fun things many families can do together, on a lake, at sea, or on the river. Whether you are a family of fishers, swimmers, or prefer to simply watch the water on deck, there are millions of memories to be had for you and your family. All it takes is a little time and a family to enjoy it with.

John Allen

With more than a decade of experience cruising the lakes in my Crestliner Grand Cayman pontoon boat and my Boston Whaler, I now want to share everything I've learned with my community here at Boating Hub.

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