Toddlers are like ninjas. One moment my daughter is fully clothed, the next both her pants and diaper are missing and she’s grinning up at me, dimpled bottom exposed. Or, one moment she’s at my knees, the next she is under the baby gate and halfway up the stairs- grinning down at me. So with these grinning, ninja like creatures so willfully testing their independence, the river can be a scary place when so much can happen in a second.

We love camping right on the river but with kids that means extra vigilance.

Many campgrounds in the Poudre Canyon are close to the river- which is wonderful- the white noise, the magnificent views, and in certain places, perfect spots to play in the sand and dip your toes. We’ve still been able to enjoy these sites, but we don’t let the kids out of sight. Before camp is even set, we walk the boundary of where we feel comfortable with them playing solo and where they can only go with an adult. We remind them how powerful the river is and that it must be respected. We are constantly letting each other know who has who. You never want to be in that, “I thought she was with you” predicament.

Below are more helpful tips found on the Larimer County website:

  • Keep a close watch on children, even if they are far from the water. Water safety for children is especially important as they can quickly enter the water and get in trouble when your attention is diverted for only a moment.
  • Never walk, play or climb on slippery rocks and logs near rivers and streams.
  • Stay away from riverbanks during times of high flowing water. The banks may have become unstable and give way underneath you.
  • Never forget the power of the river, especially when it is running high and fast from spring runoff or recent heavy rains. Waters in rivers exert very powerful force against any fixed object, this force one in place remains constant.
  • Check river and stream conditions before heading out.

Children can get into trouble at any campsite, but camping along the river adds another dimension requiring even more alertness. Luckily it quickly becomes second nature and then you get home, set them loose in the living room and with a sigh of relief you realize you can go to the bathroom without notifying another adult. Although I can’t guarantee she’ll have pants on when I get out.