Foam Boat or Actual Grom? 6-Year-Olds Rip the River in Tiny Kayaks

kid kayaking
Foam boater or kid? Kalix Addison, at the ripe age of 6, getting 'er done.

Whitewater kayaking at 6-years-old?

Soul Waterman founder Corran Addison thinks so, as illustrated by his recent video showing kids having a blast river running and even surfing. No, they’re not foam boats, but real kids…having a blast whitewater kayaking.

“Until recently, my son Kailix who started kayaking at 2, had only ever paddled with my wife and I,” says Addison, adding that, his post of the kids paddling recorded a record-for-him 20,000 views in just 48 hours. “Then last summer he hooked up with the kids of Valerie Bertrand and Erik Pederson and loved it — paddling with kids his own age. So this summer I made it a plan to have him paddle with other kids as much as possible, and Patric Gagné has two kids who were just as keen.”

Addison says the group of groms — including Olivier Gagné and Kalix Addison, 6, and Justin Gagné, 8 — has been meeting up once or twice a week since spring in their Soul Waterman Mini Monkey kayaks, going to either the fish feeder canal just downstream of the Valleyfield slalom course, or to the side channel below the Lachines rapids on the Ottawa.

“Imagine if we’d had that kind of equipment,” he says. “We might even had gotten decent at the sport.”

As for the location, he says it’s perfect for the halfpints. “Both spots offer the perfect environment for the kids to play, because it’s all about plying,” he says. “As parents we can stand in the relatively slow moving water and act as a catch-all, while the other parent gets the kids set up for whatever it is they want to try. Both spots have dozens of little lines and waves within metres of each other, making it a real playpark.”

And, of course, he adds, they still take time to let the kids have fun with even more miniature paddlecraft: foam boats. “We make moving rocks about to play with the foam boats part of it — both for fun and learning how river features work as they try to create waterfalls or waves for the foam boats,” he says, adding the video is made up of clips from just one week’s paddling.

Is this the next freestyle champion in the making?