Boating, like any family activity, is only a “family” activity if all the members are actually involved. If family members are nothing but hostages to Mom and Dad’s hobby, they’ll quickly lose interest. By assigning kids responsibilities aboard you involve them. Your children will enjoy the boating experience, and build the foundation for what may become a lifelong passion—at the very least they will be less bored (read 6 Boredom Busters for Kids: Boating Edition). The key is to make them—and the process—important, educational and fun. You’ll probably be surprised at how much pride they take in being part of your crew.
- Most children above age five can be assigned onboard responsibilities. The key is to make real assignments and give everyone at title (including you and your spouse). You can find lists of navy titles and responsibilities online and in books, which you can then apply to your crew. (The historical nicknames are even more fun.) Take it a step further and write the titles and assignments in a logbook.
- Make sure that each trip starts with a crew briefing on safety equipment, locations and emergency procedures — every time. This must include the inspection and donning of pdfs. Be clear with your crew that the Captain will always be available for support and assistance with their assigned tasks.
- You can start individual jobs by allowing the youngest to help with the launch checklist. They can also stow daypacks and provisions and other loose items. Kids with a bit more experience can show guests where fire extinguishers and life jackets are stowed.
- Tending and stowing dock lines and fenders;
- Raising and lowering the flag, ensign or burgee;
- Standing watch; and
- Maintaining logbooks and other records.