Raising little kayakers….

So this might be counterintuitive, but I firmly believe that how you start getting your kids into kayaking, is by not kayaking.
How many adults out there were pushed into doing something as a child that they grew up to resent?
I know for me personally, I was supposed to be a college basketball star, my dad played college basketball and I was supposed to be the next rising star.
The only problem was that I grew up to be incredibly short and incredibly white 😉 I can’t jump or shoot a free throw to save my life.

So how do we as outdoor enthusiasts cultivate a passion for the outdoors without creating a high-pressure environment that our kids will resent?
I think for me, the first step is to show how awesome the outdoors can be and creating first the love for nature.
My oldest is 6, and he does have a Jackson SideKick, but I’m not going to force him to start learning how to roll and teaching water reading skills just yet.
Whenever I’m teaching a roll class or we are a lake he asks to paddle around by himself and is creating his own love for water and learning boat control.
Instead, I bought a 14′ raft, and my wife and I have already taken our boys down runs like the Ocoee, Nantahala, and Big South Fork.


Pressuring kids into doing “our thing” is only going to end in disaster, with so many kids being addicted to DEVICES and SCREENS this is the best thing we can do for their future.
There is a dichotomy to this method though, by just generally exposing your child to outdoor adventure sports they may like a sport that doesn’t exactly align with your interests.
So Sean (My 6-year-old) has decided that he wants to be a rock climber, while I have nothing against climbing and enjoy doing it myself on occasion, my passion is whitewater.
My reaction initially was to discourage him and try to steer his momentum into learning strokes and whitewater movements, instead of grip technique and trips to the climbing gym.
But, regardless of what we feel as parents, if we truly want our kids to be happy then we need to try to capture their passions and facilitate an environment for them to pursue their goals.

My wife and I just finished our new house on the Cumberland Plateau and in the basement, I worked on a project that may not be exactly what I would have wanted for our basement, but I have a little man who was ecstatic!
From on end to the other on a 9.5′ x 27′ wall, I built a bouldering wall for him to practice his skills on days where I can’t take him or there is bad weather.

So will I have little guys to go paddling with in the future? That’s a great question, I hope so!
What I do know is that by creating a love for climbing/hiking/paddling, I’ll pass on a love of adventure that will hopefully translate to whitewater as soon as possible!

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