Believe me when I say that pontooning kids have much more fun than any of their counterparts back on the shore. Your kids can have fun taking part in water sports, fishing, cruising, camping, beachcombing or simply hanging out with family and friends in a variety of exciting new places.
And as they’re having the time of their lives, they’re also embarking on an important process of self-development. Boating, after all, inspires a feeling of adventure and discovery, which gives a child an interesting subject to discuss with teachers and friends and broadens his or her self-awareness. Boating also helps build a sense of self-confidence as the child explores and engages with the environment.
Handy Hint: For a list of pontoon boat games and fun ideas you can do, click to read this pontoon games guide.
So how can your kids have more fun on your pontoon boat? Do you need some ideas? If you continue to scroll down this page, there some ideas on how you can make your pontoon boat more fun for your kids.
I’ve been taking my children on my pontoon boat for three years, and their ages range between six and fifteen years old. That means I need to have a variety of games, ideas, and activities up my sleeve to keep them all entertained. It’s not easy!
But I have found a variety of activities for my kids when we’re out on our pontoon boat, and I would like to share some of those with you today. Hopefully you will grab some inspiration here.
Give Them a Degree of Responsibility
To improve your kid’s self-confidence, as a parent I find that by giving my children on board assignments and responsibilities, it makes them really feel a part of proceedings.
Even the youngest of children can handle a small job, and you will be teaching them invaluable lessons about responsibility, safety and teamwork. Being part of a working crew allows children to feel the pride of ownership, and the lessons they learn will serve them well throughout their lives.
With my eldest son, I’ve even started teaching him how to drive the boat, but obviously in a very controlled environment. He sits on my lap and steers whilst I am in full control of the throttle. We never exceed 15 to 20 miles per hour.
To make each child’s pontoon boat experience even better, resourceful parents can introduce a pontooning toy box, a dedicated kid space, pontooning journals, cruising games and other special activities.
Pontoon boating isn’t just a recreational pursuit or a substitute for a vacation or two. It’s an ongoing lifestyle choice, and this lifestyle is one the entire family can embrace.
As you introduce your children to the fun of a pontoon boat, you’ll be giving them healthy adventures to replace too many indoor hours in front of TVs and computers, and you’ll be making memories together that will last a lifetime.
You’ll also help ignite a lifelong passion that they will pass on to their own children someday.
As well as the fun ideas above, I have also given these additional responsibilities whilst on our boating trips:
- Letting my son be in control of the music. We say that he is the DJ for the day with our Bluetooth stereo. He loves being able to choose the music.
- Being the look-out for any other boats and hazards that we might encounter.
- Being the second in command, with his own captain’s hat.
Get a Pontoon Boat Slide
Pontooning should be fun, and you can really get your kids entertained with a slide to attach the side of your boat. I’ve reviewed 3 of the best pontoon boat slides previously on Pontoonopedia.
Personally I don’t own one, but a close friend of mine has one just like this slide on Amazon. It comes with a 12v inflator, and you can either inflate from the shore, or whilst on the boat if you have power. I’ve seen an adult weighing 250 pounds sliding down this one with zero problems, so it’s fun for all of the family.
Buy a Floating Water Mat
This is quite an expensive option, but it’s probably the best investment you could make if you want to keep kids entertained each day. They are very safe as long as used responsibly, as they tether to the boat, or can be anchored down. You can see an example of a floating foam mat in the photo below.
If you like what you see, then go read my guide to the 5 best floating foam pads that are ideal for boats on a lake, with different sizes and brands all reviewed.
Camping on a Pontoon
I’ve never met a kid who doesn’t like to go camping – and you can combine this passion with your love of pontoon boats, as camping on the water beats a campground every time.
Just pick a sheltered anchorage, drop the hook and make sure you’ve set the anchor properly and that it’s holding; or, since pontoon boats are easy to beach for the night without damaging the bottom, choose your favorite spot and tuck in to shore.
Camping versatility doesn’t end there if you need to spend a night on the road while trailering: You can actually use your pontoon boat as an RV!
Simply pull into a campground, put the camper enclosure in place, and use the aft ladder as your entry.
Since it’s off the ground, you’ll find that the pontoon boat provides much better shelter if it rains, and you’ll stay warmer.
Just think: You can have a combo boat and RV. (RVs are not known for their on-the-water performance, so RV owners will never be able to say the same!)
A pontoon’s wide-open layout and broad, flat deck ensure that you’ll have plenty of room for air mattresses, and a gas or charcoal grill can be attached to the railing for cooking tasty entrees at every mealtime.
The camper enclosure provides full, reliable weather protection and, with a convenient portable toilet on board, the privacy and comfort your family and children will appreciate.
You’ll also discover that your pontoon boat camper has more than enough storage under the seats to stow all the camping gear during the day while your kids enjoy more on-water fun.
Spread out your sleeping bags, tell your kids some ghost stories and let the water rock them to sleep. And in the morning, as you hear the water gently purl against the beach and watch a silvery mist hovering over the lake surface like a mirage, you’ll find that your coffee never tasted better – until the kids wake up that is!
Use Inflatables Such as Tubes
I’ve written extensively on Pontoonopedia about inflatable tubes that you can pull behind your pontoon boat. There are some great products on the market, so click here to see my guide to the best 4-person tubes that money can buy.
If you are concerned and worried about the safety implications, then that’s a good thing. You should be. But as long as you have common sense and follow some guidelines, there’s no reason why pulling your kids in an inflatable can’t be one of the most fun ideas you have this year.
For advice on how I pull safely and tow tubes with kids, take a look at this list of 13 safety tips for towing inflatables.
Fishing on a Pontoon
If you’re an enthusiastic angler and seek a boat that will allow you to indulge your passion while accommodating the needs of your family and friends, look no farther than a pontoon.
Thanks to its design, a pontoon fishing boat is an ideal platform for serious angling but is also the ideal boat for teaching your kids how to fish. First, it’s very sturdy and won’t rock or tip easily.
Second, with its shallow draft, a pontoon fishing boat can get you into the skinniest waters when the fish are near to shore. A seemingly inaccessible cove can become a private fishing hole in a heartbeat which your children will love to explore.
Next, the wide-open layout of a pontoon fishing boat gives you plenty of room to cast and work around the entire boat rather than being limited to one small space, especially if you have fishing seats both fore and aft (pontoon fishing boats can offer two fishing seats on the bow deck or two fore and two aft).
Having this space for your kids to test out their angling prowess is essential – it’s not that easy trying to teach children how to fish on a small boat, and I find pontoons are ideal for beginners.
Handy Hint: Amazon has a great range of kid’s fishing poles and rods – go take a look here.
A pontoon boat also features gates around its perimeter, making it effortless to retrieve a fish making it far easier for children to get involved. Anyone who has fished aboard a more traditional powerboat knows how frustrating it can be to lurch, lean and grab over a railing or the boat’s gunwale – not to mention being very dangerous for your little ones.
If the kids get bored and are no longer having fun on the pontoon fishing, then let them go explore the beach while you continue to catch. Or, given the spacious layout, consider a group outing for your kids and their friends.
Invite Your Kids’ Friends
Kids get bored, there’s no question. There’s only so much time they can spend in the company of adults (and vice versa!). The best way to keep the entertained all day is to let some of their friends come with them.
Your kid will probably love showing off how he or she can work the various gadgets on your pontoon boat, and after one trip with some friends being invited along, your children are suddenly going to become very popular at school!
Buy a Radio-Controlled Boat
As parents we know only too well how short those attention spans can be. Kids love to be in control, so how about letting them have their own boat that they can pilot in the water?
There’s a great radio-controlled boat on Amazon that lets you do just this.
Stop on some calm water, or at the shore, and then let them have a go at being the captain It’s hours of fun, and the one at Amazon is really, really quick. Not as quick as these boats obviously!