Hi all, this is my first post here, so please be nice. I have enjoyed looking around...
I have done quite a bit of canoeing, almost all of it with other grown men even more experienced than me. This next trip I am the "experienced" one. The guy going with me this summer has very little experience. He will bring his 13 year old son. I will have my 12 year old daughter. I have no idea how well his son paddles. My daughter can do fine, but does not have much endurance. We will be out 5 or 6 nights (currently deciding between the far west which I have never done, or Moose up to Knife down to disappointment, or the numbered lakes... Plan to decide that this week)
I have these options for boats - I could rent (or buy) a really big boat like a MN IV and put us all in one. I do not know if a QR 18.5 would be big enough.
We could get two 17' boats with an adult in the back of each
We could get one boat for an adult and both, and then one solo. Then trade off.
Welcome to this site. I would strongly recommend two tandem canoes. Even with inexperienced paddlers, two people will quickly learn how to move the boat where they want it to go. Plus you will have the space necessary for your packs without overloading a canoe. Worst case scenerio if the other two people are such poor paddlers that they really slow you down (which I doubt) then you could just shorten your route abit.
Welcome To this site Drab. I would suggest your group get two canoes. Fathers will be doing most if the paddling. With that in mind find a route that is not too difficult. I would also look for a lake that can have tow boats on. That way you can get deeper in faster. I tripped with my daughter about that age and she was good in camp but wore out paddling fast. You will have a great time. Just take it slow and easy.
I brought my daughter, then 11, on a trip with other folks two years ago. She had a great time. I paddled stern, she was bow. We were a bit slower then the other two canoes with the 19 year olds, but we did fine. My daughter loved the trip. Seven days, 6 nights - Moose River EP to Curtain Falls and back, approximately 70 miles - Souris River canoes.
If the "kids" are similar in size to my 13 and 12 yo, a SR 18.5 would be big enough (I own one)... but then the kids wouldn't paddle. How are you at paddling solo? If you're OK with it, I'd go in two canoes and just make sure I planned a shorter route in case it was mostly me paddling....
Wherever there is a channel for water, there is a road for the canoe. -Thoreau
Two canoes! Don't underestimate 12 and 13 year olds. I took a few in the day and they did well. 11 year olds might not get the concept right away that they need to do their part. But 12 and 13 yr olds were my favorite tripping partners. They seem to appreciate things a lot and usually don't have the teen attitude yet. Usually I find a teen willing to go is pretty good though. Also, let them do some map reading and camp chores... dishes come to mind. :) They love the campfire and usually will stock you up with firewood pretty good.
Another vote for two boats. My 10 and 12 year olds are good paddlers, but only for short bursts. I let them paddle and rest as they chose. One windy day I had my 10 year old only paddle when I asked, this was when I was paddling more for steering and keeping us into the wind. That extra oomph from the front helps the man in the back keep it straight. Definitely do some practice runs. Find a Park that has a paddle route with portages. Travel early and don't push it. Have a blast.
quote nctry: "Two canoes! Don't underestimate 12 and 13 year olds. I took a few in the day and they did well. 11 year olds might not get the concept right away that they need to do their part. But 12 and 13 yr olds were my favorite tripping partners. They seem to appreciate things a lot and usually don't have the teen attitude yet. Usually I find a teen willing to go is pretty good though. Also, let them do some map reading and camp chores... dishes come to mind. :) They love the campfire and usually will stock you up with firewood pretty good."
Totally agree..just don't select too ambitious a route and expect that being almost teenagers their priorities might be a little different.
I taught a nine year old to paddle one year. The next year he was the national FreeStyle champion and a superb paddler. Don't treat the kids like baggage. They can develop the skills.
I encourage everyone to start kids out canoeing while they are young. We did a long trip( some 80 miles in a week in Algonquin) with two tandems. One adult and one kid per boat. The youngest was ten, the oldest fourteen.
Prior trips were mainly river trips of a hundred miles. They started canoeing at the age of five or six..passengers from birth to five.
When they were little we took them one at a time. The oldest did a 44 portage trip in the BWCA at the age of two. The blanket just HAD to go on the trip. It rained the whole trip. The blankie was a mess. That time we did just have the one canoe..but for older..two canoes.
An interesting set up I saw one time was a kayak paddle in back and a kid in front. I think the kid was younger than 12, though.
Personally, I would go with tandems but the only time I had a 12-13 year old with us we wound up with him paddling stern on a MN III with his father in the middle and an older brother in the bow. He had been canoeing in boy scouts and that canoe just didn't go straight until we got him in the stern to control things. I think it was eye opening for his father to see how capable the baby of the family had become. The rest of the trip were his older brothers. At the start of the trip my wife and I would look back and it seemed like a random bunch of canoes going different ways behind us. I doubt an observer would have even guessed we were together. By the end, that MN III was way out front but we couldn't get them to read a map and so they had to wait for us. I guess that falls under the don't underestimate a 12-13 year old category. Well except for the map part. But he's an Eagle Scout now and so I hope he's figured that out by now.
Maybe try to get in some paddling before the trip. I think that helps a lot.
quote andym: "An interesting set up I saw one time was a kayak paddle in back and a kid in front. I think the kid was younger than 12, though."
I've gone on many trips with younger paddlers (who often never paddled). One trip (after a number of mis-fortunate events) my brother ended paddling with a kayak paddle with his son (7 or 8) in front. He said he wasn't sure why he never used a kayak paddle before. he loved it. Steady even paddling. I would keep a bent/straight spare paddle close in case of wind. Better for power moves.
Just my opinion, welcome aboard.
Courage is being scared to death... but saddling up anyway....John Wayne
Agree with the posts about starting them young and taking your time with 11-13 yr olds. Have taken 9 and 11 yr olds several times.
One other very important issue you need to be aware of is the weight distribution of the canoe load (people and cargo). The kids won't weigh much so you will have to add extra weight in the front.
1) Load heaviest packs as far forward as possible. This will likely not be enough. 2) Put nothing behind you in the stern if at all possible. 3) Add rocks in very front bow nose as needed to keep the bow in water for control. Without rocks you will have zero control in the cross winds. This is very dangerous if lack of proper balance is not resolved. The canoe MUST be essentially level for proper control and safety.
Just toss the rocks at portages and find new ones at put-in.
Wow! Thank you for all of the advice. It looks like the consensus favors two tandems.
I would never had thought to try a kayak paddle. It is too warm this winter in Southern Illinois. The upside is that it is plenty warm to paddle. I will go out this weekend with my daughter and the old grumman and give it a try. I think my "good" kayak paddle is too short. But there is an old, long plastic bladed double paddle around here somewhere.
I have paddled a lot but have only been to the BWCA twice. I am now looking forward to two separate trips this summer.
quote BillConner01: "My first trip was with four 12 year old scouts and two adults. Three tandem canoes - two adults in one, two kids in each of other two. Sure did seem to track straighter on last day than first." D'ya think some skills were gained..by all? Good point about making the first days short days to allow for tacking.
Ok I'll weigh in. I'd choose tandem. I have gone on trips with my 18 yr old step-daughter since she was 13. 5 trips now? She paddles just fine, has since she was young. She enjoyed the challenge of holding her own. The distribution of weight issue is an important one. A level canoe tracks so much better. On the plan to do the numbered lakes...beware the effect the Pagami Creek fire had in some of this area. Over-all try to have a mix of fun and work. It's ok to challenge young campers to a point. They'll feel good if they contribute.
without the bad times: the good times wouldn't seem so good
I always sit in the back. Sometimes, my 73 year old father sits in front. Sometimes, my daughter sits in front (started at 12, now she's 16). Sometimes, my wife sits in front. I always let them take breaks. For long stretches of most trips, I am doing all the paddling. It works out fine and we go plenty fast.
Whatever work you get out of the front person is just a bonus.
I've taken my 4 daughters on 3 different trips to the BW and Quetico. They started at 8,9,13,14. This year, we are going back and they'll be 12,13,17, and 18. They've done fine.
Boji makes good points too, we crammed 5 into a SR 18.5 until 2008, but we probably still could if we wanted to. Will you want to split up and have one set fishing and the other set doing something else? Will you want to minimize portage trips? Lots of factors to consider...
Maybe ask the kids? If you bring two boats and the kids are game and the weather cooperates, you can toss them in one boat together and put the adults in a boat... I think my oldest kids were 8 and 9 when we first had them paddle with gear on a calm lake. It was a nice change of pace until they were ready to kill each other :) Then we switched back. BUT if kids have no interest in paddling, maybe the single boat is the way to go.
Really you can make any configuration work - just think about priorities and then try one. You can change it up the next trip if it doesn't work well enough!
Wherever there is a channel for water, there is a road for the canoe. -Thoreau