Central Oregon Water Sports for Kids
Let the Summer Fun Begin
By Annette Benedetti
With the Deschutes River snaking its way through Bend and an abundance of pristine lakes nearby, Central Oregon is ripe with opportunities to engage in an array of watersports. While kayaking and scuba diving might sound like activities designed for the older set, there are plenty of local shops and classes that offer gear and lessons for little water adventurers.
When temps start to soar, consider getting your kids involved in a sport that will keep them cool and having fun all summer long. The following are a couple of exciting options you might not have considered.
Kayaking: Kayaking is an activity that can be fun for the whole family, but only if your kids feel confident navigating their craft in the water.
Bend Kayak School has summer camps for beginner and intermediate kayakers. Their four-day camps are geared towards kids 12-16 years old and teach the basics of paddling and river safe- ty. Students can expect to do drills as they learn strokes and practice getting in and out of their boat. Classes include all gear except for neoprene booties, which are available to rent onsite.
Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe also offers a Kids Whitewater Kayaking Camp that runs through July and August. The all-levels camp introduces young kayakers to the sport and emphasizes safety and fun. Classes start out in a warm outdoor pool where instructors t students to their boats, and then they hit the river to practice strokes and learn about currents. On the last day of camp, your kiddos might even get a chance to experience kayaking in whitewater on the Deschutes. Kayaks are provided and all required gear is available to rent or for purchase onsite.
Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUPping): Experiencing the beauty of Central Oregon’s rivers and lakes from a stand up paddle board is exhilarating and accessible to water lovers of all ages. Every member of your family, from your youngest swimmer to the grandparents, is capable of enjoying this active and meditative watersport. While paddle- boards are expensive, there are several shops in Bend including Stand on Liquid and Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe, that rent boards and associated gear for very reasonable prices.
If you have a little paddle enthusiast who would bene t from an introductory class, Bend Parks & Recreation offers an introductory half-day course that goes over the basics of enjoying and navigat- ing waterways on a paddleboard. This class takes place in July and August and prepares students for paddling on local lakes.
All Paddle Sports: If your son or daughter can’t decide which paddle sport they want to learn first, let them try them all! Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe runs a Kids Paddle Sports Adventure Camp in June, July and August that gives kids ages eight to 15 the opportunity to try SUPping, kayaking, rafting and sailing a Hobie Adventure Island Trimaran. Along with learning the skills it takes to traverse the water, students learn how to cooperate with others while gaining a true appreciation for the Central Oregon waterways.
Children between the ages of 11 and 16 can also sign up for Bend Park & Recreation’s Paddlepalooza Watersports Camp, which runs through July and into August. Students will get to run small rapids in tandem in atable kayaks, canoe the shoreline of Prineville Reservoir and SUP on Sparks Lake and the McKenzie. All of the gear is provided and it’s a suitable class for first timers as well.
Scuba Diving: Wrapping your mind around scuba diving in the High Desert might be dif cult, but if you want to get your family ready for an unbelievable underwater experience locally—think Crater Lake—or abroad, scuba diving lessons for kids are available.
Fins Scuba & Water Sports offers PADI scuba diving courses for children ages eight and up. PADI is the world’s leading scuba diver training organization so you will feel con dent that your kiddos are ready to dive deep once they have completed their PADI courses and certification.
The classes include PADI Bubblemakers, Discover Scuba and PADI Seal Team. Bubblemakers is for young swimmers who are at least eight years old. Students learn to use scuba gear and breathe underwater while swimming in shallow water. Discover Scuba is geared towards children ages 10 and up who will learn dive basics and safety rules that will carry over to full certification. PADI Seal Team is for young scuba divers ready to go beyond the basics and complete cool Aqua Missions,
including wreck diving, navigation, buoyancy and environmental awareness. All equipment is available for rent.
Water Sport Safety
- Enroll your children in swimming lessons. Before they hit the lakes and rivers they should know how to tread water, execute basic strokes and oat.
- Kids should always wear personal flotation devices while in non-motor crafts and while swimming and playing in rivers and lakes.
- Check all of your water gear for damage before getting in the water.
- Don’t get in the water or on a watercraft alone. Make sure people know where you are going.
- Make sure motorized water vehicles can see you while you are in the water by wearing bright reflective clothing or put reflective tape on your paddles.
- Carry a whistle with you to alert approaching boats to your position or call for help if needed.
- Protect your skin from the sun. You can burn easily when around the water. Consider wearing a sun hat and sunglasses for eye protection.
These wonderful local businesses are great resources for all your watersports needs. Your kids will be smiling the summer away, learning new skills and keeping cool in the process.
Bend Kayak School
Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe
Bend location: 805 SW Industrial Way, Suite 6,
Bend Sunriver retail location: 56805 Venture Ln, Sunriver
Stand on Liquid
1320 SE Reed Market Road Bend,
Bend Parks & Recreation
799 SW Columbia Street, Bend
Fins Scuba & Water Sports
541-946-DIVE 155 SW Century Dr. #112, Bend