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Hello! We are the Hargrove Crew and we have some Essential Tips For Whitewater Kayaking with Kids for you. Our family of six loves sharing the JOY of just being together, seeking adventures that turn into lasting memories, and inspiring others to join in on the FUN of the OUTDOORS. Our greatest times together have been unplugged moments on the river. Many feel the age of your child(ren) limits what you are able to experience. However, we hope to continue to encourage others that with a little drive and sense of adventure, any size family with children of any age can enjoy jumping into a kayak, creating unplugged adventures that turn into lasting memories that will be repeated for generations to come.

The time on our river blends the chaos of our family circus into the enjoyment of connecting our family of different ages and athletic abilities. The fresh air, the camaraderie, and the exercise leaves us feeling refreshed. Below are a few tips to help you create a day filled with excitement and fun while on the water. Taking these, along with a sense of adventure can turn any normal day into unforgettable memories on the river of your choice.

Tips to a successful day on the water.

Essential Tips For Whitewater Kayaking with Kids1. EXPERIENCE:

Knowing your family members’ and friends’ abilities will help you encourage them while on the water. Be prepared with a plan if they were to fall out of a kayak, raft, duckie, or SUP board. Talk about paddling and swimming techniques, as well as safety rules. Patience is important, take your time for those that have less experience or are younger; leaving time for breaks and games. Some of our favorite games are freeze tag and follow the leader, with the youngest going first.

2. GEAR:

Essential Tips For Whitewater Kayaking with KidsSafety first! Everyone must wear a properly fitted PFD (personal floatation device or lifejacket). Having a helmet is a plus and required if getting into any of the whitewater current. Know the air and water temperature of the day you are choosing to paddle. Creating a positive experience for those in your family that might not be as keen as you are to get on the river, is a must. If it is a chilly day, make sure to have layers of non-cotton cold gear, such as fleece, merino wool, polyester, or neoprene. Splash pants and a dry top or paddle jacket will add another layer of warmth on the coldest days. On warm days wearing a thinner, long sleeve, rash guard is a great way to keep cool and protect from the sun. Having water shoes is also an advantage, but avoid any gear that can easily float away.

Don’t forget! Jackson Kayak makes Kayaks JUST FOR KIDS!! Check them out here. 


Consider bringing individually packaged bars when doing river runs. For an easy snack while on the river, we place our favorite protein bars in waterproof bags, inside our PFDs or clipped to our kayak with a carabiner. Keep a water bottle close at hand, reminding your crew to drink throughout the day. Please remember to be respectful to the river and clean up your trash.


With a fluctuation of water levels, our unplugged family fun is in safe abundance all day. Check the River Forecast from the American Whitewater website ( ) to know the river level for the river you are heading to. The flow is measured in cubic feet of water per second (CFS) or in feet. Typically, the higher CFS, the quicker the current and higher the whitewater could be. From our biggest kids to our littlest, we all enjoy ferrying across the rapids, riding the wave trains, surfing features, and playing in the eddies of flat-water. On really warm days we look forward to swimming down easier rapids, working on our kayaking fundamentals in the flat water, or practicing swift water rescue skills. Always take a moment to just take in the peaceful scenery and look for any wildlife to admire.


So thats our Essential Tips For Whitewater Kayaking with Kids! Our family hopes that your time at the river, is as entertaining as ours is. Fueling your family members’ and friends’ enthusiasm about unplugged time outside, can only grow your relationships and create bonds that can continue as everyone grows older. Our last piece of advice is to capture all these experiences on a waterproof camera to watch, laugh at, and share with us and others. Please reach out to our crew on Instagram @hargroveadventures or Facebook @Hargrove Adventures and tell us about your day of river adventures.

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