Why Kids Should SUP
Many parents are looking for new activities for their kids these days. The need for this has been especially high during the pandemic. In this article, we are going to make a strong case for getting your children out on a stand up paddle board. SUPs were actually difficult to get at the beginning of Covid as demand very much outstripped supply. We'll take you through all of the reasons that more kids are on SUP boards these days.
Getting started in kids sup
Most parents get their kids interested in becoming junior paddlers by taking them out on their stand up paddle board at a young age. Sometimes it can be as simple as just having your child sit on the deck pad at the nose of your paddle board as you ferry them around.
Getting them out on the water truly nurtures the soul and gives them appreciation for the beauty all around them. Once you have paddled them around a few times, they are going to be interested in trying paddling a SUP themselves.
Take a break from video games
Paddle boarding is the perfect antidote for a generation that would be perfectly happy spending all day in the house while playing a violent video game. When kids paddle board, they get out in nature while getting a fantastic work out and a whole lot of vitamin D.
Spending so much time staring at screens has been rewiring our kids' brains. Exposing kids to exercise in nature can significantly reduce this damage.
What age can kids start SUP?
This one is really up to the parents. We've seen many parents plop their kids down on their stand up paddle board when they are as young as 2. Just make sure that the child has a personal flotation device (PFD) that is approved by the US Coast Guard. Once your child's age is around 5-6 years old, they should have the motor skills to paddle their own paddle board.
Once your child is in their preteens, they can become quite proficient at paddling. The trick at that age is to make sure that they have friends that want to try paddle boarding with them.
What type of SUP board should you purchase?
While there are a few manufacturers of kids paddle boards out there, like the Bluefin Cruise Jr, a kids sup isn't necessarily the best way to go. Even the best kids paddle boards, like the Bluefin Cruise Jr. are only a slightly smaller board than most adult boards and tend to cost roughly as much.
When all boards were hard paddle boards, it made more sense to own a kids sup because they tended to be a fair amount lighter than an adult sized board. Inflatable paddle boards really changed the calculous because they are so much lighter than hard paddle boards.
Hard boards are also harder to store and transport than iSUPs. An inflatable can we tucked away just about anywhere for the winter.
Outgrowing their board
One of the issues that parents soon find with kids stand up paddle boards is that as your junior paddler gets older, they quickly outgrow the kids paddle boards. Paddle boards for kids don't let multiple kids paddle board together which is half the fun for young paddlers. Older kids like to paddle younger kids around.
Rather than order a youth paddle board, try a smaller inflatable paddle board that both younger paddlers and young adults alike can use. An inflatable stand up paddle board will give the whole family years of fun that boards for kids just can't because weight capacity isn't as big of an issue.
Inflatable paddle board options
When looking at inflatable paddle boards for kids, make sure that the SUP brand uses several layers of military grade pvc because adventurous kids will put a paddle board to the test. Most kids paddle boards tend to only come with a single layer of PVC. We have found that a well made all around paddle board works quite well as a kids board because it's shape will let them participate in most SUP disciplines.
The problem with an inflatable paddle board that uses a single layer of PVC is that they tend to "taco" which makes them hard to stand on and even harder to maneuver. Even though kids are lighter than adults, they aren't immune to the tacoing phenomena.
Other construction considerations
If you choose to go with an inflatable stand up paddle board, make certain that besides the multiple layers of military grade pvc, that the core is made up of woven drop stitch technology as opposed to the spongier knitted drop stitch that cheaper SUP boards use. These abuse resistant materials will not only keep the inflatable SUP from wearing out earlier but will also give the board a much higher weight limit.
Don't skip on the accessories
The best paddle boards for kids will come with quite a few accessories like an adjustable paddle, repair kit, removable fins, a kayak conversion kit, dual action hand pump, shoulder strap, a bungee cord storage area and a travel backpack (which also serves as a storage bag). Make sure the repair kit includes a patch and valve repair tools.
You will also want to make sure the paddle board comes with a removable fin, as many of the original kids boards had a fin setup that was imbedded in the board. The bottom line is that the best kids SUPs are really adult boards.
Main board considerations
Boards for kids should definitely be lighter boards for obvious reasons but the best kids paddle boards are boards that they are comfortable on. Kids stand up on SUP boards with little effort due to their low center of gravity, however because they are smaller humans, you don't want a board that is too wide as the extra width will impede their paddle stroke.
A kids SUP tends to be narrower but, again, it can limit their ability to improve as they grow. Instead of a kids board, look for an all purpose SUP that is lighter and no more than 33 inches wide. Other boards that work well for kids are touring boards due to their narrow profile. Have your child try out several stand up paddle boards to make sure they settle on the right board.
Getting the paddle right
If your board doesn't come with a SUP paddle, you will want to look into adjustable paddles that can grow with your child. There are many options when it comes to SUP paddles, although most parents start with a fiberglass paddle than handle abuse.
If you would like a lighter SUP paddle, try a carbon shaft paddle which is also known as a carbon hybrid paddle. It's not advisable to get your child a full carbon paddle as the carbon blade will get pretty dinged up.
What kids learn from paddle boards
Paddling boarding can make a huge difference in a kid's life. We've outlined just a few of the benefits below.
Appreciation of Nature
No matter what their skill level is, when kids start paddle boarding they learn the importance of the beauty of nature. They also learn to respect the awesome power of that Mother Nature wields, especially when kids paddleboard in the ocean. We have known many a young paddler who becomes active in ocean charities as young adults because of their paddle board experiences.
So many of our kids are either stuck inside or locked into structured play that researchers are seeing their imaginations suffer. Getting out on a paddle board can help them rediscover imaginative play.
If you get your child an inflatable SUP board, you should teach them how to use the hand pump and the repair kit. You should also teach them what the weight capacity of the stand up paddle board is so that they know how many of their friends they can put on the board.
These may seem like small things but teaching these best paddle board practices at a young age will teach your child a level of responsibility that a video game never could. Even something as basic as teaching them how the removable fins work will help make them responsible adults some day.
Once kids get into stand up paddle boards, they learn that it takes discipline and practice to improve as it does with any sport. We've seen organizations arise that sponsor kids paddle board races like Nor Cal SUP which help foster camaraderie amongst the young racers. The best kids race organizations are typically non-profits.
Whether you get your child a paddle board for kids or an adult board, they will appreciate the independence that paddle boarding affords them. Granted, you wouldn't send younger children out on their own to paddle alone but allowing them to paddle their own board along with you will give them confidence in their abilities.
Sense of Adventure
Inflatable paddleboards give kids the sense that they can journey anywhere. Teach your kid how to carry their inflatable SUP in it's backpack and they will realize that they can hike into just about any waterway and then explore it on their SUP board. The best inflatable paddle boards will have a backpack with wheels in case your youngster's back gets tired.
Too many kids these days depend on screens for their sense of adventure. When kids paddle board, their world becomes so much bigger.
Paddling a SUP board is the sneakiest workout on the planet. Paddling either an inflatable sup or a hard paddle board will strengthen most of your child's muscles without the monotony of a weight workout session in the gym. With obesity on the rise in our society, it's more important than ever to teach kids the importance of staying in shape.
Why inflatable paddle boards make sense for kids
Inflatable stand up paddle boards make a lot of sense as the paddle board for kids. Besides the lighter weight of the board, it also is a softer surface to fall on. When anyone is learning to stand up paddle board, they tend to do a fair amount of falling. Some other benefits of the iSUP are listed below.
An inflatable stand up paddle board gives kids the flexibility to try other paddle board disciplines like Yoga, surfing and even whitewater SUP. With an inflatable stand up paddle board, kids can experiment and figure out what kind of stand up paddling that they like the most.
Whether you go with a specific paddle board for kids or a normal sized board, you won't notice a whole lot of difference in price or weight between the two SUP boards. A standard board will give them room to grow into it. Let's review some of the various SUP disciplines that your child will want to try on their SUP board.
Paddle Board Yoga
Yoga on a SUP board has exploded in popularity in the last several years. Yoga is a great way for kids to learn to meditate while getting a nice workout in. Yoga in nature is a great way for kids to relax and feel more connected to the world around them.
Find a class near you with an instructor that is certified in stand up paddle board safety in addition to being a certified yoga instructor. Join the class yourself as SUP yoga is a great way for parent and child to bond.
What kid doesn't want to learn to surf at some point? The beauty of surfing on on a SUP board is that even ankle high waves are catchable because the surfer is already in the standing position.
The best paddle boards for surfing are those with a rounded rather than a pointed nose as the rounded nose allows for more maneuverability. To get your child comfortable with surfing, hold the board for them until a nice, small wave comes along and give them a gentle push into the wave.
Once they've caught the wave, have them shift their stance from the standard SUP position of both feet near the rails of the board to "surfer position" in which one foot is closer to the nose and the other closer to the tail. An inflatable stand up paddle board is a good option here as it will be softer to fall on.
Whitewater Paddle Boarding
We don't recommend whitewater SUP until your child is in their early teens. This sport requires adult supervision and you are going to want to make sure that you and your child both have the proper safety gear.
It is recommended that you start out on a class one rapid. Make sure that your route doesn't have rocks and roots that are close to the surface of the water. Whitewater SUP is definitely the most dangerous of the SUP disciplines so it really isn't advised until your youngster is quite proficient on a paddle board.
Fishing has become less popular with kids in recent years as their brains have become used to the non stop action that is usually happening on one of their many screens. Fishing on a board can help them fall in love with the sport as it's more challenging than sitting on the shore and casting a line.
Fishing is the one SUP discipline where a fishing specific board is recommended. The reason for this is that fishing specific SUPs offer more attachments that an angler can attach "scotty mounts" to. The scotty mounts allow the angler to attach poles and depth finders as well as letting them tie down a cooler that can double as a seat.
Fishing can be a great bonding time for parent and child. Being out on the water as the sun comes up is a magnificent time to be out on the water and the solitude that fishing provides allows for some great conversations with your kid.
What better way to regain that sense of adventure that recent generations of kids have seemed to have lost than plotting out a course on a new waterway and exploring it. There are touring specific SUP boards but an all around board will work just fine for a kid.
For a really special time with you child, plan a SUP camping trip. Load up your paddleboards with all of your gear and paddle to a spot where you can spend the night. Let it be known that cell phones are only going to be coming out of the dry pack for emergencies so you can spend some truly quality time with your child.
Extra credit if you bring your fishing gear and catch your dinner. These are the kinds of adventures that your kids will remember their entire lives and will want to share with their children some day.
We touched on this in the discipline section. If your child is competitive but wants a change from team sports, paddle board racing is a great option.
There are many great organizations out there that put on SUP races for kids but much of the practice that your child will need to put in to become a proficient SUP racer, will fall on them to schedule. In this day and age where so many kids are overscheduled, SUP racing gives your offspring the opportunity to take control of their own life at an early age.
Sometimes the antidote to the modern world is getting back to basics. With the pandemic and all of the modern conveniences like cell phones and video games that are available, kids of today are much worse off than kids were a generation ago. Stand up paddling won't fix all of the ills facing our youngsters but it can go a long ways towards improving their lives by reconnecting them with nature while also strengthening their bodies and souls.
Things to Consider When Buying a SUP
Improving Fitness on Paddle Board
Back to The Future With The O2 Retro
Hard VS Inflatable Paddle Board