Raised on the Water: Inspiring the Next Generation of Boaters

Next Generation boaters

Creating Memories that Develop a Lifelong Love of Boating for Your Kids

Many people in the boating industry like to say “Start them young!” because they know that the best way to develop lifelong boaters is to get them hooked on the boating lifestyle as a kid.

Those moments that your kids will remember for a lifetime are most likely happening on your boat. Going for a cruise, casting a line, relaxing at the lake… these are the moments that your kids will treasure as lifelong memories with their family.

When I was a kid, I didn’t know anything about boating. It wasn’t until I was an adult when my soon-to-be husband and I discovered boating together. We were lucky enough to be invited out on a sailboat for a weekend cruise with some friends to experience life on the water for the first time. By the end of our weekend we were hooked on the boating lifestyle and immediately began searching for our first boat.

Fast forward fifteen years (and two boats later), our two young girls, 8 and 4, that have no idea what it’s even like to not be on a boat. Their love of boating is so strong that I cannot imagine them ever wanting to give up the lifestyle.

Here are three essential ways you can inspire your kids to develop a love of boating:

baby boat toysGet Kids Hooked Young

As summer babies, both of our girls were fortunate enough to experience their first trip to a boat when they were each only 2 weeks old. The fresh air and peaceful sounds of nature had a calming effect on them as babies. In fact, our second daughter was such a colicky infant that when we escaped to the boat on the weekends the gentle rocking on the water soothed her discomfort like nothing else.

By their second summers, I watched our girls learn to take some of their first steps in our cockpit. We heard them learn to say “duck” as they sprinkled crackers off the side of the boat into the water, and we watched with delight as they quickly became attached to spending summers on the boat.

While some people may worry about taking young children on a boat, our kids developed a respect for limits and rules early on, understanding that the rules that must be followed to be safe. Wearing a life jacket at a young age on the water became as natural and necessary as putting on a regular jacket when it gets cold. You might say they were raised on the water – or at least raised to love the water.

Grow their Love of Boating

Each year, my kids are getting more and more drawn into the boating lifestyle. They enjoy connecting with nature, learning about tidal changes and, most importantly, how to jump super high off the swim platform into the water.

Our oldest daughter loves to swim when we are anchored out and helping her dad collect clams from the bottom of the river. Our little one is still getting her sea legs and is most impressed by ducks swimming around our boat or watching ospreys perched high up in their nests along the coastline.

At the marina both kids enjoy socializing and being the official “greeters” on our dock. If you walk your dog past our boat you better be prepared to share his name and stop for a few minutes of petting. Whether we are tied up in our own slip or transients at another marina, they love how boating gives us the opportunity to meet new people and visit new places.

Most of all, I see their love of boating grow as they continue to soak in little bits of knowledge and experiences. They are like sponges wanting to absorb it all, and we are happy to teach them. From early May through mid-October, this is their weekend life on our boat Seltzer Water.

Create Family Memories

At the heart of every summer, every weekend and every outing on the boat is the time we spend together as a family.

Busy families are always looking for ways to connect more… to unplug, slow things down and share those special moments together as a family. And that’s one of the reasons why our boat has become such an important part of our lives. We know that these precious years with our kids will tick by quickly, and there is nothing like spending time in close quarters on a boat to get more together time.

The joy we experience as boaters gets even stronger when we see it through the eyes of our kids (or grandkids). Whether we are truly inspiring them to be lifelong boaters with their own families, or simply creating lifelong memories for their childhood, we know that these experiences on the boat connecting as a family is what it’s really all about.

Lakeland boatingThis article originally appeared in the July 2016 issue of Lakeland Boating  magazine. As a boater with two boat kids I am thrilled to share my experiences in a summer Boating with Kids column for the regional boating magazine Lakeland Boating.

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Diane Seltzer

View posts by Diane Seltzer
Diane is the founder of BoaterKids.com as well as the boating lifestyle site MyBoatLife.com. Active in the boating industry, Diane has also led the marketing for multiple recreational boating businesses and startups and is the author of the children's book The Amazing Adventures of Boat Girl.
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