When you’re on your boat, you feel like you have all the time in the world, and the stresses of work and home are far behind. Boating is one of your passions; you only wish your kids, grandkids or nieces and nephews felt the same way. They could feel similarly, no matter how much they grumble — they just need you to involve them in the right way. Many kids are resistant to outdoor activities, but you can make the children in your life passionate about boating with these four simple tips.
Ask Their Opinion
The more involved your kids feel, the more they’re going to want to participate. Whether you’re about to buy a boat for the first time, or you’re getting rid of your old boat, consider buying a donated boat. Choosing donated vessels offers a number of advantages:
- The boat is more affordable.
- You can rely on the charity to be honest about the condition, and it may even be refurbished.
- You can talk to your kids about how the money is going to support a good cause.
If you need to get rid of a smaller boat to afford the bigger one, donate your boat. You can write the donation off on your taxes and use the money saved on your taxes owed or the additional money in your refund to pay for your new boat.
Make a Video
The kids in your life love computers and everything digital. To get them interested in your hobbies, find a way they can incorporate their hobbies into the boating activities. Ask the kids to make a video about their experience. Have them record everything from preparing for the excursion to putting the boat in the water to drifting out on the lake or ocean.
When the kids get home, they can edit the footage together with music and graphics and share the video with their friends. Feeling like they have a project to complete — a project they enjoy doing — will make them anxious to get on the water.
Make Sure They’re Comfortable
Young children especially need to be as comfortable when trying something new or they’re going to have bad memories of the experience and it’ll be harder to get them involved in the future. Bring along adequate food for meals and snacks as well as extra clothes. When choosing food, pick healthy snacks such as:
- Veggie sticks
- Trail mix
- Granola bars
- Fruit slices
Avoid junk food; sugary foods make people wound up and then eventually lethargic after they “crash.” Make sure the kids have enough to drink and remember to include a trip back to port for a bathroom break at least once an hour with children along (unless you have a toilet on the boat).
You may enjoy a six-hour excursion, but you can’t expect a reluctant child to jump right in and boat at the same pace you do. Gradually build up the time you spend together on a boat. Start with half an hour or an hour. If the child responds positively, increase the time spent on the water by 10 or 20 minutes the next time you set sail. Eventually, the child may be asking you if you can stay out longer.
Remember that the American Boating Association recommends paying special attention to children when it comes to boating safety. Everyone should wear a lifejacket while on board, but children under the age of 13 must wear one by law in most states. With some planning, you and your kids could look forward to boating on a regular basis. Make family time a time to enjoy the fresh air, the sun and all of the fun of boating.
About the Author: Kristie Cawley is an avid boater, a mother of three and an outdoor living blogger.