Question, starting a 12 year old WW

I used to paddle WW a lot more, but since the birth of my children, my time has been practically zero. I have had a wenonah canoe that I have used in Middle Tennessee for fly fishing floats and trekking since then, but haven’t made a trip to the mountains in years. In fact, I sold my last WW boat when my son was 18 mos.

My son is now 12 y.o. and has expressed an interest in not just canoeing with me, but doing whitewater. I am debating how to best do this. Admittedly, I am very excited at the prospect of getting back out there.

There is a used tandem WW near me that I am interested in, but wonder if it wouldn’t be better to get me a solo WW canoe and him a kayak to learn on? The tandem would let me have more control and be with him for a year or so, but a kayak would probably better for him now as he grows. Also it is about him learning. (FWIW I am 6’4” 240 lbs and don’t get in kayaks. He is following in my footsteps body wise 5’6” 105 at 12 and I think now would be the best time to get him in a kayak but may only be for a few years).

He has some canoeing experience but not much. I would want to take a whitewater refresher course before I ventured out, but hope to find it unnecessary. I would insist on him taking a kayaking course to learn all things, especially rolling, before letting him loose.

I just wondered if anyone had any experience with this? Opinions as to best course of action? General thoughts on best way to let him (and admittedly me) get out there?

I paddled a WW canoe for many years, but unfortunately anything serious is probably in my past due to a combination of worn out knees and shoulders. My little guy is only 5, but I’m sure he’ll get me back in before long. I would think a tandem canoe would be great. An awful lot of what goes into making a good paddler is learning to read waters and gaining confidence. With him in the boat with you, you’ll be able to help him read runs, get the feel of surfing, drops, etc, and you won’t be as nervous watching him do it on his own. You’ll be able to coach as you go, plus it will make for some great bonding. He’ll be more comfortable around WW, so that when he strikes out on his own he’ll be better prepared mentally. Tandem rolls aren’t easy if you’re doing all the work, but they are possible. He’ll need to tuck in as tight as he can (head to his knees), which will help you a lot. Without the roll, I’d practice wet exits a lot, so that if you do go over he (or you) won’t panic.

Just my .02, but I hope this helps a little. Enjoy it man!

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Those are my thoughts exactly, and when I think of the 10 y.o. girl and 8 y.o. twins coming after him, the tandem is probably the most prudent use of my $s right now. I can see using it with all the kids as they come of age. I can move him out on his own next year or two when the 10 y.o. moves up. I don’t know what to do with the twins, but we’ll jump off that bridge when we cross it.

I don’t know if rolling the aircraft carrier I am looking at is ever going to be in the cards. I have a feeling we will be practicing wet escapes.

Depending on what you are looking at, many of the older tripping tandems are good up through Class III+. You can often find functional Explores, Blue Holes, Prospector 15/16, Dagger tandems in Royalex or R-lite. Somewhere around I have a picture back in the day of friends running Dimples on the Lower Yough in an Old Town Discovery 169. I do seem to recall that my friend had shortened the thwarts a bit to suck the hull in a bit and add some rocker. That was shortly before he bought an Encore.

I am looking at a 2004 Dagger Dimension a guy has 35 min from my house.

Get some air bags in it & it will work.

I had some of the best years of my life kayaking with my teenage son. We started doing whitewater in a canoe and switched to kayaks when he was about 14. My advice is to get him a used WW kayak that will work for him to grow a bit. There are tons of models aimed at small adults and women that would work and in TN you should be able to find a used boat and also groups that do teaching/coaching that you can both use. Start on safe easy waters and build the skills. You’ll probably find that in a few years your son is going to want to go way beyond paddling in a tandem canoe with dad.

Perhaps you might want to look into these folks… I know a fellow who started his kids paddling there and others who have pursued their instructor training and/or swiftwater rescue training with them. I don’t know where you are located, but it might be worth your while to check them out, both for you (if you’re rusty as you say) and your son.
They might even be able to put you on to used boats suitable for your intentions. There is usually a fair amount of boat exchange going on wherever there is a concentration of boaters.

I got my son started into ww kayaking with me, about 2 years ago… when he was 12. We both took 2, 2 day intro to whitewater kayaking courses with Northeast PA Kayak school. It was one day on a lake and one day on class 1 and 2 river. We both took that class twice… and then we did a few river days with the school also. We have since been running class 2 and 3 , and we are both still learning. We were planning to take a swift water rescue course with Mike Mather, this spring… but, well Covid-19 squashed that. I would recommend you take a course together, with him… and i would also say get him in his own kayak and let him learn that way… patience patience patience…

this is the route I would go:

your 12 year old will love this. If they really get hooked consider a kayak but chances are they’re gonna want more duckies so their friends (teenagers travel in packs) can go. Hanging out with Dad in the tandem canoe won’t be near as cool as watching their peers blow up (tip over) in holes! Self rescue is easy, price point is good and I’ve seen it in action, a ton of fun!