Copyright © 2008 Norm Schoenhoff

Most kids will be thrilled to go on a whitewater rafting trip or adventure, and it's a terrific opportunity for a family vacation or get-together. You'll need to pack a few extra items to make sure the trip is fun and safe for everyone involved, and kids will need to dress appropriately for both water and on-shore activities.

Rafting with kids also requires a few extra safety precautions and considerations, and you may need to contact the outfitter to find out about extra amenities, safety protocol, and rafting lessons for your kids' first experience.

Here are some other key things to keep in mind as you plan your adventure:

Activities for Kids

Many whitewater rafting trip packages offer a number of activities beyond the river. From camping on the riverfront to hiking across the wilderness, kids can take part in a variety of fun and exciting outdoor activities as part of their experience. If your kids have special needs, you'll need to make sure they will be all right with any activities, games, or adventures scheduled along with the trip.

Types of Trips Available

Beginner's whitewater rafting trips are usually perfect for kids, as these contain milder waterways and rapids. Review the different options available; there are many wonderful and exciting beginners' trips in Northern California, and these offer unique views, attractive camping sites, and adventurous rivers to watch the area's wildlife and scenic landscapes. You'll need to find a whitewater rafting trip that is simple, fun, and not too challenging; the South Fork American is one of the most appropriate whitewater rafting adventures for beginners, and is a great choice for kids of all ages.

Length of the Trip

Not all kids will enjoy an entire day or overnight trip for their first whitewater rafting adventure, so you may want to consider just a half-day trip instead. Many outfitters offer a wide range of packages and trip options, and you can still enjoy some of the best trips with just a half-day course. Consider different options depending on your kids' skill level, age, and general interest.

Rafting Company or Outfitter Protocol

Find out what the rafting company allows and doesn't allow for your trip. Some outfitters will provide all rafting gear and food for your entire trip, and others will offer facilities and camping equipment for your trip. You'll need to let them know how many kids will be joining you on the trip so that they can accommodate accordingly. If the outfitter is providing food and snacks, make sure they are aware of any dietary restrictions or allergies so that you have the right type of food on hand throughout the trip.

Packing Comfortable Clothing

Kids need to wear comfortable clothing that's appropriate for their trip and rafting experience. They'll need clothes that can be worn on the raft, and also the right clothing for any camping and nature trails that will be a part of the trip. Sandals, light shoes, and swimsuits work well for kids as they go on the water; then they'll need to layer for any hiking or camping activities on the shore. Pack these in a backpack or tote that's waterproof, so your kids can travel with exactly what they need.

Sleeping Bags and Camping Gear

If your whitewater rafting trips will last longer than a day, make sure you've packed along the right sized sleeping bags and camping gear. These can be stored in waterproof bags, and need to be kept separate from all dry clothing in case they do get wet along the trip. Make sure the kids have plenty of snacks - granola bars, non-perishable foods, and a few pieces of candy - to keep up their energy level until meal time.

Appropriate Shelter

Whitewater rafting trips that extend overnight need to include appropriate shelter and facilities for a good night's rest, this is not negotiable. This is especially important if you're sending kids off on a rafting adventure on their own; still, you'll need to plan for an appropriate camping spot that is safe and secure. Plan ahead by reviewing guides and maps from your outfitter, and get recommendations from experienced whitewater rafters in the area to find out where to set up camp.

Organizing a whitewater rafting adventure for kids is a great way to encourage them to try something new and exciting in the great outdoors. Just keep these important considerations in mind as you plan that trip, and be prepared for a unique and memorable adventure!

About the author: Norm Schoenhoff and his crew have been leading river rafting trips down four of the most beautiful Northern California white water rivers, since 1978. Whitewater Excitement provides trips designed for beginners to experienced rafters, with "Best in Class" standards of safety, service, pricing and quality. Church groups, business organizations, families, and groups of friends regularly make the fun and exhilarating trip down the rivers, with the expert rafters from Whitewater Excitement. Learn more by visiting:

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