White water rafting is an excellent opportunity to bond with your family—even the little ones! We have two different rafting options at Rafting in the Smokies. For kids ages three and up, you can enjoy a lower intensity family float. Toddlers can sit safely on the floor of the raft, while older children and adults surround on the thwarts and outside tube. If you plan to take your youngster rafting, here are some tips to keep in mind:
1. Make sure they are listening
Kids often have short attention spans. Make sure they are listening to the guides when they go over safety. Our guides are fun and energetic, and most likely they will keep your child engaged. If your kids seem distracted, make sure you reinforce the topics on the way to your raft. Make sure they understand that on the journey, they will need to listen and obey the guide, just like they would a teacher at school.
2. Wear for the water
Make sure your kids are dressed in comfortable clothes that are okay for the water. Don’t forget sunscreen that is waterproof or water resistant. As far as footwear goes, water shoes or lake shoes are perfect and can be purchased in our outfitter store on-site. You can also wear sneakers. Kids can dress in their swimsuits for better drying. Just remember to bring a change of clothes. You can use the changing rooms to switch them out into their dry clothes, especially if they are also going to be heading to the zipline canopy tour, ropes course, or rock climbing wall afterward.
3. Keep them engaged
Our guides do an amazing job interacting with kids and other groups heading down the river. You can also keep them engaged on the river by asking them questions about things they see. Can they spot the next rapids ahead? Do they see any animals? You can also quiz them on things they should have remembered from the training session before they went on the river.
4. Watch for hazards
While your kids might be more focused on the river, you can make sure they aren’t going to run into any hazards like overhanging branches. Raft guides will try their best to steer away from those, but sometimes they have to get closer to branches to avoid some more intense rafting spots. If you have little ones sitting in the raft, it’s much easier to keep them safe, just because they are already away from any risks. You might need to lift up a branch a few times for them.
Don’t forget to hydrate
Either before or after your trip, make sure you have your kids hydrate themselves and eat a good meal, especially if they are going to be paddlers. There aren’t any pit stops so make sure they go to the bathroom beforehand too.