Canyoneering and rappelling with kids - a beginners guide
Spending time in the outdoors is one of my favorite ways to connect and spend time with my kiddos. Outdoor adventures give me life, so naturally, I want to share that love with my kiddos, and there are so many great benefits of getting kids outside and in nature.
After my recent solo canyoneering adventure with Nathan of All Ways Adventure, I decided I needed to plan an adventure with my kids, so I reached out to Nathan again to see what we could put together for a family activity.
We tried canyoneering with my girls, Lucy and Willow, a few years ago. It was such a fun family adventure, but canyoneering with kids is a very involved activity, and even though my girls had fun and it was a great experience for them, there were lots of tears. I really wanted to give canyoneering another go, but I was nervous it would be a little too much stress.
I explained my concerns to Nathan, and he suggested we keep it simple, but still fun, and do an evening of rappelling close to home. I loved that idea!
Nathan knew of a beautiful area in Red Cliffs Reserve that had some very beginner rappells along with a more advanced rappell, perfect for getting my kiddos to push through their fears.
My four-year-old Phoenix was so cute to watch. He was scared and stumbled on the rocks going down a few times, but he did it. I was so proud of him! My seven-year-old Willow did amazing. She even conquered the more advanced rappel. She is by far my most adventurous kid.
My 10-year old Lucy, likes to stay in her comfort zone. She did great on the beginner rappels and loved rappelling, but we couldn't get her to push through her fears on the more advanced rappel, which is totally ok. All kids are different with different comfort levels. It will just take her more time to get comfortable enought to push through those fears......but I know she can do it.
Our evening of rappelling was a perfect stress-free way to get my kids outdoors and trying something new. They were able to push the limits of their comfort level, and feel proud of themselves.
There are so many great family-friendly activities to check out while visiting Zion/Southern Utah, and canyoneering/rappeling should be at the top of your list. I had our guide Nathan, with All Ways Adventure, answer all the questions that parents might have before booking an adventure for their family.
QUESTIONs & ANSWERS
IS CANYONEERING A FAMILY-FRIENDLY ACTIVITY?
Definitely! Family Canyoneering trips are our most popular type of trip. Our trips are private and are tailored to your family’s unique needs. The only prerequisite is desire.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CANYONEERING AND RAPPELLING?
Good question. Rappelling is the skill of descending a cliff with the use of a rope. Canyoneering is the sport of navigating a slot canyon. Many skills are involved in Canyoneering, including rappelling, stemming, scrambling, sliding, squeezing, wading, swimming, and more. I think of it as an adventure hike with ropes.
IS RAPPELLING WITH KIDS SAFE?
Absolutely! Canyoneering and rappelling can be safe for anyone. As long as the proper skills and equipment are used. All Ways Adventure does not skimp on equipment and never compromises on safety.
ARE THERE ANY AGE REQUIREMENTS?
Not really. We have worked with kids as young as 3. However, we recommend 5 and up. All Ways Adventure believes in getting kids outside early and often.
WHAT IF SOMEONE IN THE FAMILY (PARENTOR KID) IS SCARED OF HEIGHTS?
Join the club. It is normal to be afraid of heights, and our guides are totally used to addressing this challenge. You may not walk away cured, but you’ll have an opportunity to face your fears under the watchful eye of a highly trained guide. A few tears are a common stepping stone from kids and adults alike. Our guides are used to this and are always willing to do a tandem rappel.
SHOULD FAMILIES DO A FULL DAY OR HALF-DAY ADVENTURE?
You know your kids better than we do. Our trips require around 3-8 hours of concentration, depending on the trip length. We ask you to consider a recent outing with your child and how long you have before naptime/meltdown. If you want to go for the full day but are uncertain about whether your kids can handle it, consider one of our multi-sport trip options. Breaking up the day by going back to the climate-controlled car, having lunch, or a change in activity can be an effective way to reset the timer on a wilting kid (or adult!).
WHAT DO YOU DO TO HELP FIRST-TIME RAPPELLERS TO GET PAST THEIR FEARS?
Typically, education goes a long way. Our guides are experts at mitigating risk. We use top of the line equipment that is specifically designed for rappelling. Our ropes literally hold 5,000lbs. In addition to quality gear we practice the industry’s most stringent safety standards. With the use of a 2 rope system everyone is able to rappel on their own and the guide can override at any point along the way if needed.
WHAT IF THEY'RE NOT SCARED, AND WANT TO GO BIG?
No problem! Our family trips are not watered-down versions of our regular trips and we are happy to go all out. As we’ve said before, we tailor the trip to you. We acknowledge that traveling with kids is expensive, and they don’t contribute much money to the family vacation fund. We believe that our trips are so crucial to the development of a confident, capable child that we offer a 10% family discount to help parents prioritize this once in a lifetime opportunity.
WHAT IF SOMEONE THINKS THEY CAN'T DO RAPPELLING/CANYONEERING?
First off, it’s called CANyoneering, not CAN’Tyoneering. All jokes aside, we believe anyone willing can experience the vertical world. And we are serious. If you believe your challenges will be new for us (and we’ve seen a lot – old and young, “height-a-phobia,” amputees, joint replacements, organ transplants, language barriers, and other unique scenarios), just let us know. We’d be happy to prepare for your curveballs. With the support of our guides at All Ways Adventure, we have watched many amazingly resilient people overcome challenges. That’s what keeps us (and you!) coming back – those proud, smiling faces. I find that kids rely on the emotions of their parents to know how to act. If Mom or Dad is scared, certainly the kids will be, too. Fake it ‘till you make it here. Chances are you’ll arrive at the bottom of a big rappel wishing it was longer.
DO YOU OFFER ANYTHING FOR FAMILIES THAT ARE LOOKING FOR ADVENTURE BUT DON'T HAVE THE DESIRE TO TRY RAPPELLING/CANYONEERING?
No problem. We offer rope less adventures too. We can share our favorite off the beaten path hikes. Or we can go off-roading into the Zion area wilderness in search of remote native rock art, dinosaur tracks, slot canyons, rock arches, sand dunes, hoodoos, spires, 360 views and more.
Make sure to reach out to Nathan with All Ways Adventure if you are planning a trip to Zion/Southern Utah. You won't regret it!!!