Whitewater Kids

Family Appeal
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Dave Arnold, an owner-guide of Class VI and the father of a three-year-old boy, told me at one of the evening campsites that family whitewater trips were one of his fastest growing markets.

"The appeal is simple," he says. "We make camping easy. Parents are freed of the stresses of planning and camping, so kids have a good experience."

The kid-savvy elements that Class VI incorporates in its trips include having a wide variety of foods for kids to choose from at meal time, having guides full of ideas for games (one guide made a bunch of juggling sticks and taught all the kids how to use them), stopping periodically for brief naturalist lessons, and keeping the travel itinerary modest enough to accommodate as many pit-stops and swims that the kids want to take.

At the end of our three-day trip, Ariel did something she had never done before: She cried. The friends, the thrill, even the adrenaline rushes had worked a charm on her. However, she recovered quickly, because the very next day, she, my wife, and I drove a few hours upstream on the New River, rented canoes, and set out for another three days of water (both white and green), sun, and camping.

My conclusion? Our whitewater trip with Class VI was one of the best family trips we have taken. The elements—camping, paddling, and swimming—were simple. That is part of what made it so special. The addition of other kids, the thrill of whitewater, and the focused, quality time together rounded out a great adventure. Well worth putting on your ever-growing family to-do list.

Class VI does not take kids younger than six; they feel that the all-day sun exposure is too difficult. Kids and adults do not need to know how to swim—life jackets keep you afloat. Class VI has also taken people with a variety of disabilities down the river without problem.

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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