Several weeks ago I posted a story here about an overnight family raft trip on the Rio Grande we took with our friends and their 10-month-old daughter. The story sparked a heated debate. Readers called me irresponsible, negligent, and stupid for taking our daughters (two and four) on whitewater. Some commented that the children were so young they would never remember these trips, and that we were doing them purely for selfish reasons. Still others said it was reckless to put non-swimming children in boats, period. Then there were the readers who praised us for exposing our kids to nature and wild rivers, something too many children miss out on these days.
I thought a lot about the comments this past weekend, when we took what might be our final float of the season. Here in northern New Mexico the weather’s been unseasonably warm and dry, and the Rio Chama is still running high, at 1,000 cubic feet per second, so it seemed the perfect last-chance river fix before winter. As it happened, it also turned out to be a good reminder why, when you play it safe, rafting with kids ranks right up there as one of the best family adventures.
RAFTING WITH KIDS ISN'T INHERENTLY DANGEROUS
This may sound like oxymoronic, but we’re conservative when it comes to floating rivers with our children. It’s all about having a system. We’ve been rafting with our kids since our older daughter was 10 months old, and we stick to our system every time, kind of like a pilot running through his pre-flight checklist. It’s automatic.