Posts Tagged ‘tips’

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

zach and luke entertained by the scenery in algonquin (ages 2 and 5)

So you wanna take your kids on a canoe trip?  I’m talking about a real trip

look at our paddles

here, not just a day paddle.  Day paddles are pretty straight forward.  You can take whatever you want, including your time.  But what if you’ve packed for a multi-day trip and can’t afford the space to bring juniors collection of beach toys?  As a general rule, Luke and Zach are only permitted to bring a couple of toys on trip at all, but even these stay packed tightly away while in the boat.  The last thing you want is to lose any favourites overboard.  This will result in whining and tears for the duration of your trip.  Not fun.  If there is one special something that MUST come and it absolutely isn’t up for debate (I’m referring to Lambie here), you can tie said object of affection to the thwart.  My suggestion would be to use those multi-coloured plastic baby chain links.  Something about having a cord that little ones can get tangled up in, in the unlikely event of a dump makes me nervous.  It makes me think of why manufacturers

stopped putting drawcords in kids hoods.  They are a choking hazard.  If you insist on using cord, at least make it short.

first trip with kiddie paddles (ages 7 and 4)

You are going to want to set out some in-boat rules, and they must be laid out days in advance of your departure.   They will need to be firmly deposited in your little ones memory bank.  Examples?  There will be no toys in the boat.  There will be no electronic devices including but not limited to cell phones, iPods, portable DVD players and handheld game devices.  Sunhats and sunscreen are a must.  For safety, children must respond to all instruction immediately and without fail.  I realize this sounds strict and like a bummer of a trip, but it makes the time more relaxing in the end.  If you’ve laid down the law well in advance, it heads off most arguments.  I get it.  You’re thinking to yourself, “This chick’s crazy.  What kids will agree to, let alone follow, these rules?”.  Or maybe you think your little one is, well, too little.  This harkens back to an earlier post about how toddlers are tricky.    You can reinforce how one of their jobs is to stay in the middle of the boat.  It’s their job to help keep the family safe.  If they veer over to the edge, they can feel the boat listing to that side.  This tippy feeling can in and of itself spook them into staying put.   Cause and effect.  “Oops.  Help Mommy keep us safe by staying in the middle”.  I honestly never had a problem with my boys in the boat.  Never a complaint, never a restless moment, never a fight.  And my boys are normally quite crazy.  For older kids that can’t be finessed into compliance, it’s simple.  Don’t make me turn this boat around.  No cooperation, no trip.

Let’s talk kids and paddles.  You can buy amazing quality paddles in kids sizes, and they

zach opts to sit in the bow

make for such cute photo ops, but also make for pain in the butt boat companions.  I thought that these would make my kid’s early trips more special and they would feel like they were contributing.  In reality, they were too small to reach over the edge and touch the water, so they leaned out further and further  to make contact.  Ahhhh!  This was a disaster waiting to happen and it made steering awful.  I put the kibosh on kids paddles until they were big enough to actually help out.  In fact Zach still doesn’t paddle during the actual trip, just during day outings.  Even then, with four of us in one boat, there is never enough room, or dexterity, to coordinate paddling in unison.  I have found myself sitting in the bow with teeth clenched tightly, trying not to freak out at the unsteady rhythm and the constant jostling.  That is something that I’m not going to miss.

zach and lambie take a turn (massasauga 2010)

So what do you do to entertain the kids if they don’t have paddles or toys?  My answer is simple.  Nothing.  How did you entertain YOURSELF before you ventured into the realm of family tripping?  You listen to the sweet sounds of paddles dipping and loons calling.  You keep a keen eye on shore in hopes of spotting a moose or maybe even a bear.  You laugh and talk

a bear seen from our boat in killarney

and dream.  Don’t rob your kids of a true wilderness experience by bringing home along with you.  With our over-scheduled lives filled with classes and lessons and late-night meetings, canoe tripping is an opportunity to connect

a deer seen from our boat in algonquin (pondweed lake)

with your kids.  Slow it down a bit and enjoy the time with each other.

Hot Fun in the Summertime

I don’t know what your neck of the woods is like today, but in Toronto it is H-O-T!  With the humidity it is hitting 43C.  I spent some time in the back yard earlier, but now I’m hiding in a dark room in the center of my house.  The fans are blasting, the popsicles are melting, and the cold bath is running.  Ahhhhh.

luke getting a refill

What if you’re in the woods though?  How do you deal with the heat when there is no a/c?  In extreme heat, you need to avoid heat stroke and stay comfortable.   Here are some tips:

  • High output activities (like hiking and paddling) should be reserved for the morning or the evening.  Save the middle of the day for quiet activities in the shade or swimming!
  • Drink, drink, drink.  You should be drinking regularly and more often than usual.  You’re not going to want to wait until you’re thirsty (this is a sign of dehydration) but rather hydrate BEFORE your body needs it, avoiding too much sugar , caffeine and alcohol.
  • Although you’ll probably be dying to strip down to bare essentials, loose-fitting, light coloured and breezy clothing that covers up your skin will help a lot.
  • Do you remember grade 9 science class?  I do.  The process of evaporation draws heat away from the surface (evaporative cooling).   What this means  is if something is wet, as it dries, the surface gets cooler.  In other words, get wet!

That last point reminds me of a trip that a friend and I took to Mexico.  We were backpacking and ended up in a small inland town.  We checked into the hostel in the middle of the night to 40C+ temperatures!  Everything was sweating.  We couldn’t sleep, heck we could barely breathe.  A couple of Australian girls down the hall gave us the tip that saved us from the suffering.  Get wet.  My companion and I took turns jumping into the shower fully clothed and lying on our beds until we dried off.  The cotton held the water and so the cooling effect lasted longer than if we’d gone au naturel .  The next day involved climbing pyramids in the middle of the hottest day I have ever experienced.  We survived, and so will you.

Just grab your water bottle and your sunscreen and plan your days accordingly.  Most of all, enjoy the heat.  It lasts for such a short time.

Bella’s Got Nothing On Me

day one after 1st portage - mosquitoes LOVE luke

Some people are more attractive to bloodsuckers than others.  I am one of the unfortunates.  I have just killed my first bloodsucker of the year.  I was sitting in the backyard, minding my own business, when yup, I felt the telltale sting on my shoulder.  My reflexes are above average, but every year I seem to lose the battle against the biting hordes.  Mosquitoes, blackflies, in fact the whole biting fly family, love me.  Biting insects can really make or break a trip.  They are the difference between a good time, and an awful time.

If you are particularly adverse to feeding the ravenous swarm, choose your week of travel

our little trooper, always happy

carefully.  There is a distinct pattern to when the bugs are at their worst.  But let’s be honest, there is no getting around bugs when you are in the great outdoors.  Unless the local insects are known carriers of a nasty disease, they are simply pests and you can choose to put up with them.  Just ignore them, as moms are known to say.  If you don’t scratch a mosquito bite, they lose their itchy potency pretty quickly.  However, if you feel like a fight, here are some suggestions.

Wear looser, light coloured clothing with a tightly woven material, preferably long sleeves, pants and socks.  Dark colours attract and loose weaves allow the stinger to pass through more easily.  Here’s a good one, don’t smell nice (my family makes an art of this one).  Perfume and strongly scented cremes and cleansers attract mosquitoes.

luke NEVER complains about bug bites

Dare I say it? DEET!  Yes, chemicals are your best and only certain defense against the menace.  In Canada, we are limited to creams and sprays with a maximum 30% deet.  But don’t despair, higher percentages simply last longer, they don’t provide better protection.  So just reapply when necessary.  And for the kiddies, keep the percentage lower and only apply to exposed areas.

zach's bitten eyes swelling shut

Some people swear by citronella products and vitamin B (you can buy these as patches).  While the research data on these is up for debate, it can’t hurt to give them a try, particularly if you choose not to use deet products.

Want to look the part of a north Ontario camper?  Break out the bug shirts, pants and head nets.  These handy garments are made with tightly woven cotton and/or large breathable panels of no-see-um mesh.  You look goofy, but feel happy.  Feel free to stick your tongue out at those who teased you for bringing them, but now beg you to borrow them.

luke's bitten ankle twice its normal size

Oh.  One last thing.  Pitch your tent wisely.  Don’t put it next to standing water or a marshy area where those delinquent pests like to party from dusk til dawn.  This is one soiree that you won’t regret missing.  Good luck out there.

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