Kayaking for Kids and Families

Kayaking is something your whole family can do, and in New Mexico, there are hundreds of places you can kayak together.  If your kids love exploring the outdoors, they'll find endless adventures exploring New Mexico's lakes and rivers by kayak.  New Mexico is home to five Congress-designated "Wild and Scenic" rivers, and numerous natural and man-made lakes, providing thousands of miles of shoreline waiting to be explored.

I'm often asked "At what age should I start teaching my kids to kayak?" and "How is the best way to introduce them to the sport?"  The answers can vary greatly from one child to the next, but by following a few simple guidelines, your kids will be begging you to take them out on the water again and again!

It goes without saying; your kids should be comfortable swimming in the water.  They don't have to be the next Olympian, but should be comfortable floating, treading water and submerging their head.  PFDs are required in open water by law in New Mexico, and you can set a good example early by wearing yours at all times, even in the pool.  Put your gear on first, and you'll be surprised how quickly they'll follow in your footsteps!

New Mexico Kids KayakingRegardless of their age, learning to kayak is best in an indoor, heated pool, so they're not too far out of their comfort zone.  The water is clear and warm. The depth is known.  The climate is controlled and a warm shower and dry clothes are only a few feet away.  At this point, the only thing foreign is the kayak itself.  Learn basic strokes and self-rescues without the added distractions of current, cold water or unpredictable weather.  We'll introduce Thrills and Spills later on when they're convinced they like kayaking!

When starting out, keep things simple.  Have fun with the boat and become familiar with it.  Teach younger kids that it's a toy, like a tricycle, inner-tupe or jungle gym.  Let them climb into it, jump out of it, fall out of it and ride on top of it with you, before giving them a paddle or spray-skirt.  Fun games like Sponge Bob Tag, Duct-tape Tag and Marco Polo can be played with or without a paddle, all while building confidence, balance, coordination and boat control.  Older kids will enjoy more challenging games like Indoor Slalom and Kayak Polo.  These are excellent whitewater skills building drills.  If they chose to pursue whitewater, adopt a mindset of making challenging moves on easy water, where there is less risk.  That way, you've over-prepared them for the skills they'll need later on.

Learning the Kayak Roll is a handy skill, but isn't a requirement to kayak.  Rolling is a defensive measure, whereas good judgement and boat control are offensive skills.  With an accurate assessment of their skills, capsizes should be few and far between.

Recreational kayaking in New MexicoPrices vary greatly between recreational, touring and whitewater kayaks, but a high-end kid's whitewater kayak can be purchased new for about $800, or about the same price as a good youth mountain bike or set of alpine skis, boots and bindings.   A season family pass at Taos Ski Valley sells for $2000.  The same $2000 can outfit a 3-person family with recreational kayaks, paddles & PFDs that can be used 8 - 12 months per year.  Over the five-year lifespan of the boats, that's $2000 for 3 kayaks and gear, vs. $10,000 for lift tickets and no gear.

 

 

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Upcoming Kayak Instruction Classes

Title Date City Name
(Level 1) Introduction to Whitewater and Recreational Kayaking Saturday, September 1, 2018 - 8:45am - 1:00pm Bernalillo Sandia Lakes Recreation Area
(Level 1) Introduction to Whitewater and Recreational Kayaking Sunday, September 9, 2018 - 8:45am - 1:00pm Bernalillo Sandia Lakes Recreation Area
Title Date City Name
(Level 2) Essentials of River Kayaking Saturday, September 1, 2018 - 3:00pm - 7:00pm Bernalillo Coronado Campground
(Level 2) Essentials of River Kayaking Sunday, September 9, 2018 - 3:00pm - 7:00pm Bernalillo Coronado Campground
Title Date City Name
(Level 3) Whitewater Kayaking Made Easy Saturday, August 25, 2018 - 9:00am - Sunday, August 26, 2018 - 5:00pm Pilar Pilar Yacht Club
(Level 3) Whitewater Kayaking Made Easy Saturday, September 22, 2018 - 9:00am - Sunday, September 23, 2018 - 5:00pm Pilar Pilar Yacht Club
Currently there are no Advanced Whitewater clinics scheduled. Please see our Calendar of Events for upcoming Intro, Roll, Whitewater and Touring clinics, or Contact Us for a private lesson.
Title Date City Name
"Open House" Kayak & SUP Fun, Games and Practice Wednesday, August 22, 2018 - 5:30pm - 7:30pm Bernalillo Sandia Lakes Recreation Area
"Open House" Kayak & SUP Fun, Games and Practice Wednesday, August 29, 2018 - 5:30pm - 7:30pm Bernalillo Sandia Lakes Recreation Area
"Open House" Kayak & SUP Fun, Games and Practice Wednesday, September 5, 2018 - 5:30pm - 7:30pm Bernalillo Sandia Lakes Recreation Area
"Open House" Kayak & SUP Fun, Games and Practice Wednesday, September 12, 2018 - 5:30pm - 7:30pm Bernalillo Sandia Lakes Recreation Area
"Open House" Kayak & SUP Fun, Games and Practice Wednesday, September 19, 2018 - 5:30pm - 7:30pm Bernalillo Sandia Lakes Recreation Area
"Open House" Kayak & SUP Fun, Games and Practice Wednesday, September 26, 2018 - 5:30pm - 7:30pm Bernalillo Sandia Lakes Recreation Area