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Thread: Cradle to Canoe; A review

  1. #1
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    Default Cradle to Canoe; A review

    Canoe to Cradle; Camping and Canoeing with Children

    By Rolf & Debra Kraiker

    Soft covers, 167 pages



    I bought a copy of this book after someone mentioned it on a thread on the forum. My hope is that it would give me some help with taking my daughters on canoe trips. This it has done and infinitely more.

    The Book has nine chapters
    1 My How They Grow
    2 Clothing
    3 Equipment
    4 The Well-Fed Camper
    5 Developing Camp Skills
    6 Wildlife
    7 Campsite Selection
    8 Playing It Safe
    9 Camp Games & Entertainment

    There is also an introduction, conclusion and a checklist.

    The only thing wrong with this book is that because of the sub title those who do not have children may not read it and that would be a loss to them. The book is not and does not go into paddling technique in any way shape or form. It is about the practicalities of wilderness camping with an emphasis on including children in these trips. Notice I say an emphasis. The book is a mine of information for those wanting to go on camping trips in a canoe regardless of whether they have children.

    Because the emphasis is on making everything suitable for children the explanation of why and how they plan and arrange their trips is thoroughly explained, clearly. There is no assumption of prior knowledge. I feel this is especially useful in the UK market. I have found that in some North American books there is an assumption that the reader will already have extensive outdoor experience. Without this experience to fill in the gaps the books can be hard for the beginner to fully understand. The completeness of the information is clear in the Checklist in the Cradle to Canoe.

    But do not let assume that this means this is a book just for beginners. Whilst it is certainly a great book for beginners it is still a book for those experienced in canoe camping. I doubt anyone will read the book without gaining some useful piece of information or angle on something.

    The information about integrating your children into trips was to be expected but I have learned a lot of things that will be of great value on my solo trips. The section on food is an excellent example, as are the camp craft, first aid and weather predicting.

    Great examples of information for children is everywhere in the book. Some examples that spring to mind are getting the children to keep the PFD on all the time, even when at camp. It adds not just insulation from the cold and a level of safety near the water but also protects from some of the bumps and scrapes a child usually gathers when outdoors. Putting out a tarp as a play area, using the canoe as a playpen. Boat on a rope and many more

    As you can tell I really liked this book. It was about precisely the type of canoeing I do and want my children to do with me. If you have children then I would say this book is one you must have. If you do not have children (there is still time for Christmas ) but you go canoe camping then you too should have this book.

    I highly recommend this book.

    P.S.
    I bought my copy of the book from www.AbeBooks.co.uk as I find that this is usually cheaper than Amazon but you usually have to wait for about 10 days for the book to ship from the US

  2. #2
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    Default I'll second that

    Well, I've only just noticed this post, and I just want to add my vote for this book. I've a little one, and this book has really encouraged us to kit ourselves up for taking her canoeing, but as Magikelly says, it has lots of information and inspiration for everyone.

    I've been listening to some podcasts recently about outdoors stuff in the UK and the USA, and I've read Song of the Paddle and one or two other North American bits, and the outdoors / wilderness culture in North America is different in some ways from ours in the UK. Somehow this book has encouraged me to take on board or try out some of the North American things, and new ideas are always welcome.

    Must get around to knocking up a home made dehydrator...

    Ben

  3. #3

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    Did you realize one o the authors, Rolf, is also a member of this forum/board or whatever?

  4. #4

    Default Cradle to Canoe: a Dissenting Opinion

    Cradle to Canoe: a Dissenting Opinion

    First, let me say i learned from from this book. I have pages marked that i will go back to and read again. I am happy with my purchase and will recommend this in the future, but....

    I feel that this book is either way too long or way too short. As Magikelly said in his review (here), this is also a book about wilderness camping in general. I think that 150 odd pages isn't enough to prepare someone to lead a trip, let alone a trip with children... further reading and experience is required. And that is fine with me, i didn't buy the book to learn about camping, but to learn about the kid part.

    Let me give you a few examples; there is a section for picking equipment (tent, sleeping bag, etc), clothing, basic food prep, and firebuilding. To me, if you are going to lead anyone out on a canoe camping trip even the least bit remote, you need to have that information and experience down. There is no discussion of paddle techniques (again, fine by me) but a discussion on how to pick a canoe. I struggle to think of a paddler that knows their strokes, but doesn't know that was covered about canoe shapes and materials. I learned too much about camping the hard way. As the authors state "Choosing the perfect campsite is an acquired skill that's usually developed through the process of spending many nights in no-so-great places". -- too true. I think most people set up a tent in a soon-to-be-rain-puddle/pond or in a wind tunnel a few times before they learn what to look for. Mistakes like this are bad enough when you are young and dumb, but i don't even want to imagine learning this lesson with little tikes crying at 3AM b/c everything is cold and wet.

    One concern i had was that on page 29 of my edition, the book recommended a rope from parent's PFD to child's PFD for kids that like to hang on the gunnels. This just seemed like a bad idea to me.

    In conclusion, I want to state again that the tips for young children (from age 3 to 8 or so) in the book are really good. My daughters are 3.5 and 1.5 and i was immediately able to use some of the tips. There is information for younger children, but i think that is best for "if they went trippping with a 1 year old, we can go paddle the local pond" feeling. I don't have much experience with kids in that elementary (age 6 to 11) range, so i don't know how useful that is (yet). The camping sections are an introduction, but you _will_need_ more instruction (from books and experience) if you are new to camping. If you have experience backpacking or canoe tripping, the camping sections will be very basic.

    ***My background. I am an intermediate paddler, meaning i can paddle a canoe through most stuff, for days on end, but the Path of the Paddle videos make me look like a hack. As and outdoorsman, i am pretty well versed and can camp just about anywhere on an hours notice. I haven't done any mountaineering, but most people don't canoe at 15,0000 feet (4000meters). My parents started taking me camping when i was 3 and my sister was 1. I am also an Eagle Scout (highest rank in Boy Scouts of America). My girls have been canoeing and camping, just not at the same time. Finally, i stay home with my children full time, so i have a pretty good idea what it takes to keep them going day to day.

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    I think any book is always going to be a compromise. I am sure I remember Rolf saying something about the huge amount of stuff they had to take out of the book to get it ti a publishable size.

    I think an important point is that when taking children with you it has to be in situations where you are well inside your comfort zone. The last think you want is to be in any way stressed about the situation with more stress of the children.

    As to tyeing the child to a leash I can see pros and cons. it would depend on the situation and the child. My children swim so well now that the only time I would consider a leash is if i wanted them to swim and tow the canoe.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by MagiKelly View Post
    As to tying the child to a leash I can see pros and cons. It would depend on the situation and the child. My children swim so well now that the only time I would consider a leash is if I wanted them to swim and tow the canoe.
    Don't you mean 'when' not 'if?

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by MagiKelly View Post
    As to tyeing the child to a leash I can see pros and cons. it would depend on the situation and the child.
    I just couldn't think of a situation where it made sense... any water too fast or cold for an impromptu swim is probably the wrong place to be. If you swamp, you risk the line being tangled etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by MagiKelly View Post
    I think an important point is that when taking children with you it has to be in situations where you are well inside your comfort zone. The last think you want is to be in any way stressed about the situation with more stress of the children.
    That was my point on the larger scale. For example, if you don't know how to build a fire in the rain, you need more experience, either with other adults or with your kids in an less extreme manner. Some of the points were so basic, that if you didn't already know them, you shouldn't be leading a group, yet most of those topics (gear, planning, bushcraft, cooking, canoe strokes) are multiple books unto themselves.

    Tim

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    Quote Originally Posted by plumbee View Post
    I just couldn't think of a situation where it made sense... any water too fast or cold for an impromptu swim is probably the wrong place to be. If you swamp, you risk the line being tangled etc.
    What about on open water where you have a sail up. If they fell in you could travel a fair distance before you can stop then you need to paddle back into the wind to get them. I know a few people who leash themselves to their canoe in the same situation.

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    Throwing a couple kids in the minivan and driving down the M6 is considerably more dangerous on any given Sunday.
    The Travelodge less so than the M6 but more so then the average campsite. People just do not think that way and so do not realize it.

    We used to world proof our children, now we try to child proof the world.

    The world is very big from the little of it I have seen...
    Lloyd

    Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug...


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    My mum used to tell me 'If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything.'

    Why all this negativity? The book clearly provides a deal of useful information. It was never going to be the Encyclopaedia Brittanica on the subject.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by MagiKelly View Post
    What about on open water where you have a sail up. If they fell in you could travel a fair distance before you can stop then you need to paddle back into the wind to get them. I know a few people who leash themselves to their canoe in the same situation.
    Thanks! That was the kind of answer i was looking for. I am still working on my sail rig so i really don't know the ins and outs and safety issues yet. Is the leash more a big water/cold water thing?

    Tim

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    Quote Originally Posted by plumbee View Post
    Is the leash more a big water/cold water thing?
    I can't remember what it says in the book but in my mind it would be. Like everything it is all about assessing how you see the risks and minimising them. If you feel the biggest risk is entanglement then cut out the cordage but if you see the bigger risk as being a child in the water for a prolonged period of time then the leash is the way to go.

    Chances are neither situation will arise but the thing is having it set up in a way that makes you and therefore the child comfortable with the situation.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lloyd View Post
    Throwing a couple kids in the minivan and driving down the M6 is considerably more dangerous on any given Sunday.
    The Travelodge less so than the M6 but more so then the average campsite. People just do not think that way and so do not realize it.

    We used to world proof our children, now we try to child proof the world.

    The world is very big from the little of it I have seen...
    I am not sure what you are saying. I don't think i said (nor do i believe) that kids are too fragile or shouldn't be taken camping/canoeing. I was saying, to use your example, that a new driver reading 2 pages (or 100) won't make them a safe driver. Your first ever drive should not be just you and your kids, and not on the M6. A well trained and experienced driver (or canoeist/outdoorsperson) shouldn't have any problems taking their kids. My point was i thought much of the info was basic, and that if you read that and learned, you by default lacked experience to trip in the wilderness with children.

    Take children camping, Take your friends camping. The more people we get outdoors, the better.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian Cooper View Post
    Why all this negativity? The book clearly provides a deal of useful information. It was never going to be the Encyclopaedia Brittanica on the subject.
    Well, i was trying not to be too negative. You are right, the book does contain some great information. On the other hand, i felt let down after all the positive reviews i read.

    Personally, i would have preferred more stories of their trips and more fine grained details. When their boys were 5 and 2, how long/far did they paddle? How far were the portages? How remote were they? How long did they stay out? What mistakes did they make? How did that change when the boys were 8 and 5?

    Or, perhaps more creatively, create a "fictional" family and write a story where they make typical, unusual and funny mistakes to pass along the wisdom they have gained after 20 or 30 years of experience.

    Given limited space and the knowledge the authors had, i didn't see the value in much of the basic information that is available elsewhere.

    Respectfully,
    Tim

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    Quote Originally Posted by plumbee View Post
    I am not sure what you are saying.
    Read it again...

    I don't think canoeing is very dangerous if you have common sense. I would not take an 8 year old on a first decent of a river, but one I had done many times in many conditions, no problem. I would not hesitate going to a place like Algonquin park with a kid, they make great little pack mules.
    Mind you any kids traveling with me are educated on what to do when they see a bull moose. My evil Apprentice Darth Melodie is even a pretty good shot with the .22 so she can watch my back too...
    As far as kids not old enough run on their own, I would say treat them like cargo and keep them in a Duluth pack until you get to camp.
    Lloyd

    Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug...


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