Stand-Up Paddle boarding is the greatest. Relaxing, its a crazy work-out, total mother nature connection, and a solitary rejuvenating activity.... so why not bring the kids?!
Usually something so relaxing, so zen, so enlightening, such a workout doesnt involve children tagging along. Maybe not in this case....
Share the board with the child letting him/her sit or stand on the front of the board while the adult paddles. When stand-up paddle boarding on the same board with your child, it’s vital to first check the weight restrictions of the specific board you will be using. Each board style is different and it’s important to make sure the board can hold the combined weight of yourself and your child.
Whether the child will be on your board, or their own, a few key rules must be observed every time.
- The child must wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) It’s essential and think of a live vest or PFD as a seatbelt--you don’t expect to need it, but it’s absolutely essential for safety that you use it.
- Find a safe place to paddle board. Put simply, big ocean waves with an inexperienced child are a no-no. Lakes, bays, and other calm bodies of water will facilitate an enjoyable SUP experience for the both of you. Windy days might also make things difficult with choppy water and chance of getting pushed away from shore.
- Your child must be able to swim before getting on a paddle board. A stand-up paddleboard, unlike a kayak, has nothing to strap the paddler in. This creates a much higher risk of falling off into the water (which is also half the fun!).There is no magical age at which it’s safe to take your child stand-up paddle boarding. But, as we mentioned above the child must be able to swim first.
Take your time and have fun with it!
The hardest part of paddling together will most like be, simply, both getting up on the board without slipping. It may be best to start out by kneeling and stabilizing the board, then allowing the child to climb on. Paddle out and practice until both of you are confident enough to stand. Take it slow, and following the same fashion as before the adult can rise up to stand first followed by the child.
You may also have to alter your usual stance to make room for a child at the front. Most likely if you just scoot back a few inches from where you stand alone on the board, there will be room for both of you to balance easily.
SUP together might be difficult at first, and you both may end up taking a dip in the water, but practice makes perfect. Eventually you’ll fall into a seamless rhythm and bond over a new healthy hobby.
Once your child has mastered the basics of SUP, he or she will likely desire more of a challenge and hop onto a personal board. Children may benefit from smaller boards and paddles depending on size and strength. Remain close to your child throughout, in case they’ll require some advice or a helping hand. Start slowly, allowing you child to try out paddling themselves in calmer waters before moving on to more choppy water. They may find it tiring to paddle themselves the first time but it’s important to not get discouraged. If your child becomes exhausted and does require assistance, have them hop onto your board and tow theirs back to shore. Most importantly, all of the aforementioned key rules must be followed when the child is on their own board, as well. And most, most importantly, have fun!
Contact some of these highly recommended Maine SUP shops for gear, lessons, and more.
SoPo SUP - South Portland
Portland Paddle - Portland
Tidal Roots - Maine Online
Liquid Dreams Surf - York/Ogunquit