on the warmest day (how lucky is that?) my friend barb came out and she brought with her the young man.
the convenient thing about that is the boat landing isn't too far from barb's house, and it is in fact on the way home from the grocery store. the less convenient thing is that we have to put him in a boat to bring him to the campsite, and i have all the extra boats on my side.
still, not really a problem. i paddle over with a boat in tow and we put him in my kayak, which is a keowee. aquaterra doesn't make it anymore, but good luck buying one secondhand because people who have them don't get rid of them often.
a keowee is a short fat little boat. its good points are that it is stable, easy to get in and out of, and steers easily.
of course, all these things mean it doesn't track, but if you're putting a child in a boat for the first time, it's probably best to put him in a stable boat.
so we take a moment or two to explain to him about how it will feel weird and tippy, but that if he stays in the seat it will not tip over, and we explain to him a little about how paddling works and we let him have at it. it's a short paddle over to the campsite (about 300 paddle strokes by my count) and he does pretty well, even though the boat is too big and the paddle too long.
the boy's grandmother feels very strongly that he should get more of the type of play that we enjoyed as children: unstructured and outside.
so he climbed some trees. he played with tools. he played with fire. he played with rope. outside of the safety rules and some advice when asked, we left him to his own devices.
then for the paddle back, we put him under tow because we were going against a little wind and also boy might get tired. mostly he paddled on his own, but under tow is a pretty good way for a kid to learn.