Family Adventure: Trying Something New

| June 26, 2013 | 1 Comment

Stand up paddleboarding (SUP) with the family

By Jen Charrette,

Stand up paddleboarding is the perfect adventure for those of us that normally do land locked activities. And you don’t have to be Laird Hamilton to get started and have fun. While the gear investment is substantial it’s not outrageous, SUP works the entire body, kids enjoy it, and minimal skill is required for basic calm water paddling (unlike surfing).

Last August we bought a stand up paddleboard for the family. Since we travel a lot, we went with an inflatable one that is easier to transport. We have enjoyed it at reservoirs, bays and in the ocean. We love it!


Below are the basic items you’ll need:

  • Stand up paddleboard: If you are a novice or if you are planning to transport one of your kids on it you should choose a wide and flat board, which offer more stability
  • Paddle: Choose a paddle that’s roughly 6” to 8” taller than you are
  • PFD (Personal Flotation Device): The U.S. Coast Guard classifies stand up paddleboards as vessels. At our local reservoir the ranger will fine you if you don’t have one at least strapped to your SUP
  • Clothing: Something that is comfortable and can get wet
  • Sun protection: Wear sunscreen and sunglasses

Once you have the gear there are a few tips to get you going:

  • Stand in the middle of the board. Your feet should be parallel, about hip-width distance apart
  • Keep toes pointed forward, knees bent and back straight
  • Balance with your lower body
  • Keep your head and shoulders steady and upright
  • Don’t stare at your feet, look ahead
  • Keep your paddle in the water as much as possible and never let go of it

If you feel unstable standing at first, sit down on your knees and practice a few paddles. When you feel more comfortable, stand up. I also use this technique when in the ocean to get past the waves

Grab a board and paddle away!


Create Your Own Bike Tour

By Kristen Lummis,

murphys hogbackIn May, we went on a self-supported, multi-day mountain bike trip with two other families. We spent 4 days biking and three nights camping on the White Rim Trail in Canyonlands National Park. The kids on this trip ranged from ages 8-16, although in the past, we’ve gone with kids as young as 3. And while there are plenty of outfitters who will gladly set up your tent, haul your gear and take your money, we like the D.I.Y. version.

So far, the only self-supported multi-day bike trips we’ve done have been on mountain bikes, but there is no reason why you can’t do the same thing on road bikes. It’s all in the planning.

  • Choose good company. This is critical. While you don’t all have to be best friends, you all need to be good sports. When biking with kids, it’s not about speed or miles, but about having fun. And when you’re on a self-supporting tour, every adult needs to be willing to help drive – even if this means not biking every mile.
  • Be Realistic. When mountain biking, we try to plan an average of 25 miles per day. On road bikes, the average distance could be increased. Still, it’s essential to choose each night’s campsite or lodging within an appropriate distance. While everyone enjoys riding a bike – for a while – some of the most fun is had in the afternoon in camp. Also, build in time to set up and tear down camp. This always takes more time than expected. On both trips we’ve been on, we’ve been lucky to get rolling by 10:00 a.m. each morning.
  • tents white rim(1)Plan and Plan Again. Know where you will stop for lunch each day, the best spots for bathroom breaks and possible diversions (a short hike to an arch, a fabulous ice cream shop?) along your route and where you will spend each night. I love spontaneity, and you shouldn’t rule out changes to your itinerary, but knowing where you’re going and we’re you will stop helps keep everyone focused and ensures that both the fastest and slowest riders, as well as the vehicles, end up at the same place.
  • Choose a Kitchen Boss. Food and drinks are important on a multi-day adventure. Rather than having everyone bring their own, we’ve found it easier and more fun to have one family plan and buy the food, and then split the cost between everyone else. In camp, everyone else cooks and cleans up. Because he or she did the shopping  and packing, the Kitchen Boss should get to sit back, have a beer and enjoy the evening.
  • Ain’t Too Proud to Sag. The sag wagon is an essential part of any bike tour. First, it carries (or they carry, as we always have more than one vehicle driving along) all of the gear. Second, not everyone wants to ride every mile. For sag wagon success, we like to have snacks, water and books handy.
  • A Strong Start and A Cheering Section. As for motivating kids, two tips. All kids start out each day riding. They usually leave in a pack and while the pack diminishes over time, they all ride at least some distance. Once they’re ready to stop, no one gives them a hard time and if they stop for a bit and then decide to ride again, everyone is supportive and excited. The sag wagon always stops upon request.



By Erica Lineberry,

kayaking-adventure-momsThis summer don’t limit your wet and wild fun to the pool! Why not get the whole family out on the water with an inflatable kayak? In addition to getting a killer upper body and core workout, you’ll have a chance to explore natural areas that would be inaccessible on foot! Our family purchased one at the beginning of the summer, and we’ve been having a blast!

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  • Kayak – Our family of 3 went with the inflatable option.  It’s easy for me to transport when it’s just me and my toddler, but there’s still plenty of room for when dad wants to come along.
  • Paddle – Paddles are sized based on the user’s height as well as the width of your vessel.
  • Personal Flotation Device (aka Life Jacket) – While the grown-ups could probably get away without one on slow-moving flat water and lakes, we opted to outfit the whole family to set a good example.
  • Clothing – Comfortable, non-restrictive apparel that can get wet.

Once you’re geared out, here’s some helpful tips for your first few forays in the water:

  • Safety Rules – Make sure your kid(s) understand how to stay safe in the boat.  Our most repeated rule is ALWAYS KEEP YOUR BOTTOM IN THE BOAT!
  • Sun Protection – The sun can be especially intense when reflected off the water, so cover up, lather up, and don’t forget the sunglasses!
  • Paddle Tips – Twist your torso and use your entire upper body rather than just pushing with your arms.
  • Dry bag – Keep essential items (car keys, camera, phone, food, water) together in a dry bag strapped to the kayak.  In an accidental capsize, your belongings will stay safe and dry.

Don’t forget to have fun!

Category: Outdoor Kids

About the Author ()

Kristen Lummis, Alyssa Erickson, and Jessie Harrold are The Adventure Moms, blogging on family-friendly adventure here at Got questions for the Adventure Moms? Leave a comment below or contact them at their websites: Kristen Lummis,, Alyssa Erickson,, and Jessie Harrold

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