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member (7)member
04/09/2008 03:54PM
I am planning a b-dub trip with my 7yr and 5yr old sons for this summer. I have done many trips over the years with friends, but never with young children. My wife thinks that I am taking an unreasonably risk by going without any other adults. The tentative plan is to enter Little Indian Sioux N to Shell which would eliminate any real big water. Also looking to go in July for warmer water. Does anyone have thoughts on this trip? Am I taking on too much risk? Thanks, Mike
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distinguished member(1792)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
04/09/2008 04:30PM
You're not taking any risk at all.

I would feel much safer with my kids in the woods than with my kids in the Cities.
distinguished member(1501)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
04/09/2008 06:42PM
Sounds ok to me if you stay to areas where other people are likely. The only risk I see is if you were to become ill/injured, thus the sense that staying in relatively populated areas is wise.
If she's really worried, she should come along!
distinguished member(2364)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
04/09/2008 06:51PM

One adult, a 5 and 7 year old, and you ask is it safe?

I ask, can the 5 and 7 year old paddle a canoe alone, read a map and compass and seek help in case you need it........... otherwise, you (the injured adult) will wait till some good Samaritan happens along your camp? Good luck with that.

Don't make a bit of sense to me
Grandma L
distinguished member(5159)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
04/09/2008 08:02PM
I tend to agree with your wife and HPD. I was a children's camp director for many years and we would not let a trip staff go without a "second". Our insurance company would have had a fit!! Either an older youth with experience or skilled second adult makes sense.
distinguished member(2364)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
04/09/2008 08:30PM
MikeM suggestion

Try a MN State Park for your first outing. Your kids will not care (only you will know)

Look at Glendalough State Park for "canoe in sites".

With more than nine miles of undeveloped shoreline and six lakes, this angler's paradise is one of the last large tracts of undeveloped lakeshore and land in west central Minnesota.

Canoe Sites, 4 sites, Call park to reserve. Sites available beginning Memorial weekend. Sites are located on northeast shore of Annie Battle Lake and offer access to the lake. Can also hike or bike to sites.

Try this link: MN State Parks
distinguished member (116)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
04/09/2008 09:14PM
I say if your comfortable in the situation then go for it, just don't push too far.
The first trip I did with my kids, they were just slightly older than yours. We did one portage, base camped and did some day trips from there. We always practiced safe paddling, had proper fitting pfd's for everyone all the time and stayed off the water in windy conditions. They still enjoy going even now as young adults.
Take care and have fun!
04/09/2008 09:19PM
I have taken my six year old for the past two years; 6 trips last year and 4 the year prior and have had no problems. I stick to the smaller lakes and do trips on popular routes. Teach you children what to do if you get hurt; ie; stay put and signal for help. I purchased a SPOT for this year and will teach my son how to use. I think our kids are much safer in the the BWCA that playing in the neighborhood park to riding a school bus. Be cautious and use common sense. I would not do routes that take you off the beaten path. Stay where someone can help you if needed. The kids will love the adventure!!
distinguished member(572)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
04/10/2008 06:41AM
The only risk I can see is if you get hurt or have a heart attack or something that leaves you unconscious. The kids would have a tough time with that. My 18 year old son and I will go up in May together and he worries about what if something happens to me. I am renting a sat phone to set his mind at ease. You may want to consider that too. You can rent them at a lot of outfitters for about $30 a day plus airtime.
distinguished member(530)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
04/10/2008 08:39AM

I have taken my son when he was six and seven. No one else on the trip. I was very careful. We had great experiences. We went back into Insula. Obviously if the wind was up we stayed on shore. I took my second son when he was 4 and am going with him again this year. He is 7 now. He always carries a whistle. He doesn't help paddle at all - he puts his paddle in and plays with the water essentially putting on the brakes! I'm in no hurry.

Jerry R.
Guest Paddler
04/10/2008 08:43AM
In my opinion you run a higher risk to life and limb just driving with your kids in car with you.

Go on the trip be cautious and enjoy a great time.
distinguished member(4454)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
04/10/2008 10:08AM
I agree with Trygve. The BWCA is a great place for kids. Plan carefully, be smart and use common sense. Tailor the trip to their needs and you will have a paddling partner for life.

Personally, I'm taking my 4-year old daughter on her 3rd and 4th trips this summer. Last year we went twice when she was three and stayed on Seagull Lake.

So Mike, do it if you want. Pick a route with lots of traffic and easy access to get out if something happens.
distinguished member (153)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
04/10/2008 10:35AM
If you can find another adult to take along it would help a lot. Pick a base camp location that is short paddle/portage away and is on the main drag. Ensign/Lake One are good choices. Before you go make sure to take your kids to a local lake and teach them how to paddle and what to do if the canoe tips over. Practice it. Obviously they must be good swimmers. Keep the trip short and have fun!
distinguished member(2364)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
04/10/2008 12:20PM

Ah, the fuzzy warm feel of the BWCA trip....... all is great if nothing goes wrong.

But, Dear Dad things do go wrong and they would be dreadful wrong if you were unable to take care of your children........ That whistle (that Traveler suggests) sure would be a comfort to a 5 year old who is looking at Dad with a serious injury.......

Dad has a responsibility to his children and not some romantic idea that wilderness trips are like a walk in the local park....... Take the second adult and then the BWCA is a great place for kids (especially 5 and 7 year olds)
distinguished member(736)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
04/10/2008 02:48PM

Anyway, go for it! I've inspected carnival rides in the past and I can guarantee the bw is way more safe than your county fair. As with anything else if it doesn't seem safe don't do it. You've got the right idea about smaller water. Know your kids' limitations and don't push them. You'll be freakin fine! My mom still worries about me. It's a mom thing. Anywhere you take the kids without her she'll worry. It's just what they do. I say GO. Make sure you post pictures when you get back.

Oh yeah, don't let them out of your site! The wifey-poo may be a little angry if you lose one of the chitlens. Not to mention if they get attacked by a bear or snatched by a cougar. 5yrs would be about bite size for those critters. And wolves....... oh my! The HORROR! But they should be fine.


distinguished member(6504)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
04/10/2008 05:32PM
Keep them on a short leash and wrap them in bubblewrap...leave an opening for the face of course :-)
distinguished member(997)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
04/10/2008 05:43PM
mike m. i say go for it! i took my 7 year old grandson out for his first trip last year. it was the best trip ive taken in all the years ive been out.
i too, took an easy route with an easy escape if need be. we do first aid stuff together so he is as informed at his age as he can be. taking it a step farther, this spring before any trips that we take, we are taking a CPR class together. i also carry a 'beacon.' if anything happened to me...heartattack or being unconsious, he knows how to use it.

go and have fun!
senior member (54)senior membersenior member
04/10/2008 06:09PM
I think it would be alot safer with 2 adults.
04/10/2008 08:23PM
You should be fine, people worry to much these days. Just don't do stupid things.
distinguished member(659)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
04/11/2008 09:17AM
I think the key here is to manage the dangers. Nothing in life is completely safe.

If you feel comfortable doing it then go! Just remember to plan everything out and be prepared for most anything. Teach your kids as much as they can realistically handle about emergencies and self reliance. If something does happen, they will be as prepared as possible.

No one here would try and stop you from driving a country road with your kids in the car. But I know of a couple stories where people recked and were not found for days even in areas that have population. Things can happen anyplace.

My wife freaked when I went solo a couple years back, but I thought through what I was doing and assesed the risks, sure I could have died, but we have people dying all the time in Chicago, its a part of life.

Just remember - if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

I bet your kids will get a big kick out of the experience.
senior member (97)senior membersenior member
04/11/2008 11:48AM
if you put fishing poles in the hands of a 5yr and 7 yr old in a canoe with you, i personally guarantee you that you are at an extreme risk of getting a hook in the head, shoulder, arm, back, ear, etc. etc. i would crimp down any barbs on their hooks and not give them anything with a treble hook.

everybody has given you great advice, but only you know the maturity level of your young kids, the anxiety level of your spouse, and your own level of carefulness and if you have medical issues to consider. a single adult is certainly not as safe as two adults, but that does not necessarily mean that the trip has to be cancelled if it is only you.
distinguished member(1483)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
04/11/2008 12:45PM
Without a second adult I think the trip might be an unnecessary risk. Plus, it would be nice to have some adult company along with the added security and safety. Once the kids are in the tent for the night you would have someone to hang with fireside for an hour or two before hitting the sack...

If you want to go with just the 2 kids I would recommend some of the lakes that give you the wilderness feel without actually going into the BWCA. Try a self issuing BWCA day permit at Kawishiwi Lake. You can canoe in the BWCA all day and portage into many nice lakes. At the end of the day you can take one of the 5 USFS sites lakeside. You would have the car right there which lets you have some creature comforts that kids really like. Crescent Lake and Sawbill Lake are similar options. The Timber-Frear Loop is also another good option.

Sounds like a GREAT experience for everyone! I'm just always prone to err on the side of caution with any newbie...especially kids.
04/11/2008 05:33PM
I took my sons on at 6 and 7 years old. Just scale the trip to them, base camping is appropriate, a few miles in is fine. We had a wonderful week on Agnes at the South side campsite with the giant boulder backing the campfire with two islands off the shore. They had a wonderful time 'exploring' the islands and the trip up and down the Moose River was a great adventure.

Disregard the naysayers - they get old too fast and this time is fleeting.
distinguished member (116)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
04/12/2008 09:16AM
It is great time for kids that age, if nothing goes wrong. What are the odds of you being incapacitated in some way and not being able to take care of your kids?

On two of my last three trips to the BWCA, someone in our group of four was hit by some kind of 24 hour gut-wrenching illness on the first day out. All they could do was lay around and puke for a day and a half.

A second adult is common sense.
distinguished member (130)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
04/12/2008 09:38AM
The BW is not a dangerous place...although you have to know your own personal abilities. If you are an experienced person with common sense remember "common sense". You will be fine with two young children. Bad things happen ie. a heart attack but what if that happened while paddling down a local river with two young children. My guess would be the same tragic consequences. I agree with Beemer01 on a base camp trip keep it simple and they will have fun. If you are truly a capable person then there is no additional risk. Or you could also wrap them in bubble wrap to keep them safe. Don't be afraid to adventure.
distinguished member(1535)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
04/14/2008 03:25PM
I say "take them".

There are plenty of lakes where you will occasionally see other people paddling past (Fourtown or Horse from EP23, Disappointment from EP27, etc). If you really get it trouble, you can flag down someone going past and ask them to send help when they get out. Just camp on the travelled end of the lake rather than some secluded bay.

You could get a Sat phone or a "Spot" transmitter if you wanted an emergency backup plan...
member (7)member
04/14/2008 05:24PM
Thanks for all the suggestions. One thing that hasn't been mentioned is hiring a guide of some sort if unable to locate another adult for the trip. It wouldn't need to be a guide in the purest sense. In fact, I wouldn't really want a full fledged guide, maybe more of a responsible partner to "tag along".
04/14/2008 06:54PM
Trust me on this - take them. They'll see you through different eyes - and this is a great bonding time.
senior member (97)senior membersenior member
04/16/2008 08:16PM
A guide is a good idea. You have to remember that trips with one adult and any number of young kids are going to be very labor intensive for the adult. I'm getting older and have had back problems requiring surgery and have arthritis in one knee. A couple of years ago my 10 year old daughter really wanted to go on a canoe trip. I just didn't want to risk re-injuring my back or wrecking my knee on a rocky portage with just the two of us. I hired a guide out of Gunflint Northwoods at the Gunflint Lodge. Their regular guide was booked and they hooked us up with one of their former guides. He's a naturalist by profession and had a world of knowledge to share with both of us. Gunflint guides will do as little or as much as you like. We outfitted ourselves and provided all of the food. The guide outfitted himself and Gunflint provided him with a solo canoe. All we had to pay was the daily cost of the guide and a tip to the guide, of course. Some places charge you for the guide's outfitting and canoe in addition to the guide's daily rate. It can get quite spendy.

We had a great trip. We split up the chores, he answered every question my inquisitive 10 year old had and sometimes its just nice to have an adult to talk to. He was just a very low-key guy who gave us our space. He was a life saver when I twisted my bad knee on our last day out. I was having a hard time portaging the canoe but could handle the packs. He portaged both canoes. My daughter had a blast.

I should add that my wife had some serious concerns about just my daughter and I tripping. When she found out I'd hired a guide all of her concerns fell by the wayside.
Big Ying
distinguished member (178)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
04/17/2008 05:52PM
I totally agree with bikehikefish. The kids having a great time isn't the issue. They probably will if nothing goes wrong. There are too many other options in the vicinity of the BWCA where if something goes wrong thay have a great chance of being safe and getting help quickly, while still having a quality experience. I think once a child is big enough and responsible enough to put up a tent by himself, cook for himself, use the basic tools of camping, how to orient, etc, I think it's fine they go with one adult.
04/17/2008 06:41PM
I wonder how many adults who go the the BWCA can put up a tent by themselves? How many can use a real compass? What if the GPS went down? How many adults can use a compass and a map? 50%, 70%?? The BWCA is much safer than many places are kids play each and every day. Taking your child on a trip to the BWCA is educational experience and will show them a whole different world. I do not advocate going out and getting into the most remote area of the wilderness nor going on death march to the perfect walleye lake. I do think that it is fine to take your kid / kids to one of the more popular lakes and base camp. Be cautious and use common sense. Have a plan if something would happen and most of all have fun. Pass on your love of the wilderness and adventure to your children. They will be the better for it!!
distinguished member(26295)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished membermaster membermaster member
04/17/2008 06:51PM
take the kids! if youre a seasoned vet i wouldnt worry at all. go slow. watch every step on the portages. forget the guide thing. it will be fine. if youre still concerned, rent a sat phone.
Big Ying
distinguished member (178)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
04/17/2008 08:06PM
Adults have the right to be stupid and irresponsible. If they go camping and don't know how to put up a tent, they are responsible for that choice. Kids are the responsibility of adults. They depend on adults to make good decisions for them.

If the child knows exactly how to use a satelite phone, and one is brought along on a backcountry trip, that is certainly a more responsible choice than not bringing one. If only the adult understands how to use it, I think it is taking an unnecessary risk.

It only takes one mis-step, one miscalculation, one unexpected medical problem, etc., etc. for a young child to be put in a situation that could be very traumatizing and could very well endanger him/her. Sure, it probably wouldn't happen, even if you are not very careful. But a 6 year old would probably not get hurt either if you left them at the mall all day by him/herself. Yet I don't think anyone would say doing that would be no big deal.

Anyway, that's my 2 cents.

distinguished member (116)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
04/19/2008 09:13AM
Big Ying has a point. I know that I do what some consider stupid and irresponsible stuff, like solo backpacking and canoeing. But, that is my personal choice that is not putting anyone else at risk. You have to agree that the bar is raised when an adult is making the decision for a youngster.

Is it really dangerous? Probably not, and if something unexpected happens, there are others around that can help out. But that would require others to change their plans, alter there trip, and cut into their vacation. It would be an imposition, at the least.
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