We all know how little kids are easily entertained, but we also know how they easily get bored of everything you do and start messing around with the first object they see, jump on the couch, and generally act like the kids they are. This may be fine when they’re at home, but certain things kids do can get a bit dangerous when they’re on a boat. Even if this is not the case, you still want your children to be entertained so you can enjoy your own relaxing boat ride. For this purpose, we’ve compiled a list of things you may want to try doing with your kids while on a pontoon boat.
1. Bring toys
While people generally go skiing, fishing, and swimming, you’ll find out just how quickly children lose interest. What’s more, there may be children that are afraid of water or simply don’t want to swim on that particular day. As such, it’s advisable to bring a couple of toys, play-dough and so on in order to keep your child entertained.
For obvious reasons, we advise you to bring either biodegradable toys that are not dangerous for the local fauna or floating objects that can be easily recovered from the water. Just in case.
2. Bring a big towable tube
Just like their adult counterparts, kids like to do things in big groups. Tube towing can also get a bit scary, especially for little children, and going together with two or three friends may just give them that extra impulse they need to go for it.
We have an article on recommended big tubes for both children and adults, so feel free to take a look at our recommendations.
3. Bring fun snacks
Swimming makes you hungry, that’s a universal truth. Look at Michael Phelps – he has a diet of 10.000kcal per day. Children are pretty much the same, but the difference is that they won’t be satisfied with a metric ton of plain chicken and rice. You have to make it fun, or else they may not want to eat or just play with the food, kind of like what they do at home.
You should bring snacks your children don’t usually eat. Preferably, there should be things that stay good even if it’s hot and don’t make a mess on your boat – for God’s sake, not chips or chocolate.
What do we recommend? Granola bars (even better if they’re homemade), fruits, marshmallows, pretzels, dried fruit and so on. The possibilities are many; you just need a bit of imagination and a good Internet connection.
4. Boat cinema
If you can watch a movie at home, why couldn’t you do the same while you’re on your ‘toon? Nothing stops you, especially if you’re planning to stay on your boat until late into the night.
In order to really do it the cool way, hang a projector screen or even a large enough piece of white canvas down from the bimini and connect a projector to the boat’s power supply. If you have an adapter and a lighter socket, it’s even better. Get the abovementioned snacks and watch your favorite movies.
5. Pizza time!
There’s no food like pizza, let’s be honest about it. This is one point on which adults and kids totally agree. While there generally is no drive-through for your boat, you can simply order pizza at the dock, if at all possible, and enjoy it while cruising.
Another thing you may enjoy along with your children is a slide for your pontoon. As mentioned above, there are children who are afraid of skiing or simply aren’t in the mood for being dragged around on a tube. However, there are really few who wouldn’t enjoy sliding off the boat and into the water.
Offer your kids a safe alternative to jumping over board with the Rave Sports pontoon slide. While it’s a bit on the expensive side, it’ll definitely become one of your children’s favorite items. Also, being made of reinforced vinyl and capable of supporting up to 250lbs, it may even bring out your inner child!
7. Invite their friends
There’s no fun like the fun you share with friends, and there’s no better way of becoming “that popular kid” than bringing your friends with you on your old man’s boat. Let your children be in charge of their own friends and you’ll see how they suddenly become very responsible and conscientious of their own actions.
This works well not only with little kids, but with teenagers as well. Why give him the keys of your car when you can give him the keys of your boat and let him take his girlfriend out for a ride on the lake?
8. Down skier flag and fail cam
You’ll be surprised how much your children can enjoy the simple things in life, such as rolling on the floor laughing at their friends who have just fallen off the tube and into the water. It gets even better when you employ the legal safety measure, i.e. the down skier flag. Let your kids wave it – it’s big, it’s orange, and it allows your kid to symbolically laugh at someone instead of actually doing it.
For the same purpose, you can bring a waterproof camera and have your child record the funny moments when someone is splashing with all their might, then watch it later on the projector together.
9. Bring your fishing rod
It’s the duty of a parent to teach their children how to fish, in particular if that parent is the owner of a pontoon boat. Bring a fishing rod for every member of your party, young or old, and aim for the biggest catch!
If you have a fish finder and you know all the “hot spots” on your local lake, that’s superb. If not, you can simply ask someone who does to give you a pointer or follow someone who has a fishing boat. This way, you don’t have to spend time locating fish while still having a chance to get a nice one.
10. Go for a beach picnic
Break the monotony of a fishing and skiing day for an hour or two. Dock your boat and head to the beach for a picnic. You can even order pizza if you want, but something homemade would be a lot better. After all, here you can eat lots of things you don’t want eaten onboard.
Let your kids play with the sand and run around, take them to the bathroom, and get yourself a nice break as well. You deserve it!
11. Driving lessons
Generally, pontoon boats don’t have assisted direction. This means you actually use your own strength in order to steer, and it makes people think it involves a lot of power. That is not the case, however, as a 10 year-old can steer a 22’ pontoon without a problem. Also take into account that it’s best to get your kids into the business as early as possible!
There’s no legal age for pontooning in most of the US states, so you can legally put the children on your lap and let’em drive. Just make sure they don’t go over a certain speed limit and you’re able to take control at any moment – this involves you not letting them alone at the wheel.
12. Delegate a DJ
If your boat has a sound system and you trust your kids not to play 10 hours of Hannah Montana songs, you can employ one of them as the official DJ of the party. It’s even better if you have a Bluetooth-controlled sound system: you can simply connect it to your phone computer and get a DJ app for your kid to enjoy.
13. Get a remote control boat
As you’re driving the big boat, you can get your child a small boat to do the same! The WOPUTUO FT009 is a relatively inexpensive remote control boat, and it performs extremely well for that price range.
Stop your boat, set the anchor, give your kid the controller, and you’re all set to go!
These are only a couple of the things you can try with your child. As with any similar list, you can expand it as much as you want – it’s only limited by your imagination. In order to make things go even smoother, there are another couple of points we’d like to make that are not necessarily connected to a single activity, but rather tips on how not to screw up:
- Explain the rules before going on a trip
You will only waste your time and breath trying to tell your kids not to jump on the couches with the shoes on, not to push buttons, not to pull the towable tube’s valve cover, not to do this, not to do that, blah, blah. Not only will they not listen, as they’ll be focused on swimming and all that, but you’ll ruin their fun by continually prohibiting things.
As such, make sure to explain all the rules beforehand: what to do, what not to do, how to wear their PFD, and so on. Even better: if you let them invite their friends, tell your children to explain the rules to their friends. This way, you’ll be sure that they understand them and you’ll also make them feel more “adult”.
- Get wet suits
Kids generally don’t like swimming in cold water, much like many adults. As lake water can get pretty cold at times, in particular if you live more towards the north, it’s recommended to get some nice wet suits for your children and, why not, for yourself as well. This will allow them to play in the water without so much risk of getting a cold.
- Get a peppermint stick for the seasick
If your child gets sea sickness, that’s a problem. However, a peppermint stick can work wonders! Common drugs used for this affection are not recommended for children, but the peppermint stick is a natural remedy and has no side effects, unless you’re allergic to peppermint.
You can get a Quease Ease stick on Amazon, which is really not that much considering you can use it for car sickness and other types of motion sickness in general. It has great reviews and we’re totally recommending it.