When your kids are younger, they always seem keen for a trip out on the family pontoon boat… well, they don’t really have too much choice. But when they turn into teenagers, that’s when things can get a little trickier!
Even if you can persuade your teenagers to get out of their bedroom and onto the pontoon, there’s every chance they will just sit down on the seats and check their phone all day.
So, what can you do to make things more interesting and fun for your teenagers on your pontoon boat?
I am here to help, and have compiled a list of things that should in theory appeal more to the teenage mind… but then there’s no guarantees, as nobody really understands how they work! Read on to see what I have done in the past to achieve a successful day.
1: Let them Choose the Activities
What teenager wants to be told what to do?
I’ve never met one yet, so let them decide what the day’s pontooning will involve.
Whether that’s fishing, a party, beaching-up, games, or tubing and water skiing, let it be their day where they decide the activities.
It could be easiest way you can convince them to come along!
2: Let Them Invite Some Friends
Teenagers are like a pack of lions. This special breed prefers strength in numbers for sure. With that in mind, ask them if they would like to invite some friends to come along for the day.
You might be an embarrassing dad like me, so you might have stick out the way for a lot of the time, and not leave even the helm. But if you’ve got a great boat, with good food, and some awesome inflatable tubes it could be just the thing they want to show-off to their friends.
3: Buy an Inflatable Tubes or a Slide
There aren’t many teenagers who won’t want to be pulled behind a pontoon boat on an inflatable tube, especially if you have let them invite some friends along.
To really take things to the next level, consider a pontoon water slide kit. Pontoon water slides are expensive, and you will need quite a bit of room, but for value for money, you can’t beat them. Here are the best inflatable slides money can buy.
4. Plan a Party for a Special Occasion
Pontoon boats are ideal for parties, and teenagers love parties, right?
Here are some pontoon boat party ideas you might want to consider. With teenagers it could be to celebrate a birthday, graduation, or other special event.
Every 4th of July, I let my teenage son ask a couple of friends along to take in the fireworks and celebrations at our local lakes. We also beach up, and let them off the leash a little with their own campfire and supplies whilst we stay on the boat.
5. Don’t Make Every Meal on the Pontoon
Talking of the beach, it’s a great place to pull up and have a BBQ. It makes a change from grilling on board, which your teenager might be bored off after the 10th time in doing so.
Many of the pontoon grills you can buy can also be taken off the rail mount and used on the beach. Any way in which you can mix things up a little to keep things interesting could give you a happier teenager.
Don’t bank on it though!
If they are a younger teenager, then this could be a great time to teach them how to build a campfire, giving them the responsibility for cooking the food.
6. Order Pizza to the Dock!
Teenagers and pizza. It’s a long-established tradition, and I can’t think of too many things that complement each other so well.
All you have to do is call the local pizza place, tell them where your dock or marina is, and time it just right for just before you leave, or just as you get back from your day out.
As an embarrassing dad move, this never fails to make them either laugh or cringe as I am calling in the order to the confused pizza guy.
7. Plan Some Fun Games to Play on Deck or in the Water
Your day on the pontoon doesn’t’ just have to revolve around food and pulling inflatables. There are so many games and other ideas that you can plan.
I’ve previously published a list of fun pontoon game ideas which has some inspiration for things that my own teenagers have loved to do from time to time.
That now includes our latest purchase which is a floating water mat, ideal for lake partying and fun on a hot summer’s day. You can see an example in the photo below.
8. Let Them Drive or Captain the Boat
At home your teenager might feel like they are never in a position of responsibility or management. So why not switch things up and let them be the captain for the day?
This change in roles could be just what your parent and teenager relationship needs, and it certainly adds a fun element to proceedings.
Teaching my own son to drive our pontoon boat is one of my most treasured memories, and I believe really helped to strengthen our relationship. Give it a go.
9. Consider a Technology Free Day
If there’s one thing that has become more prevalent in modern society, it’s the sight of families sitting in a restaurant, all glued to their smartphone. It’s not conducive to communications or family relationships in my view. In fact, there are recent studies that suggest smartphones are contaminating family life.
Whilst you might experience some resistance, suggest that your day on the pontoon boat will include all adults and teenagers having to turn their phones off.
You would be amazed at the difference this can make with how you communicate and work with your teenager on your boat.
As way of compromise, perhaps suggest a couple of 30-minute periods during the day when you can turn your phones back on – I know that I will probably be wanting to check the football at some point during the weekend so even for me this would be preferential agreement!
10. Let Them Be the DJ
Gone are the days when my kids would happily listen to my music tastes. And I can’t admit to liking theirs too much these days.
But, if it means getting them out onto my pontoon boat to get some fresh air, I am more than happy to let them control the music, as I assign them the DJ duties.
Let them hook up their smartphone via Bluetooth to your speakers (here are my speaker recommendations), and play what they want, when they want, no matter how much it makes your ears bleed.
It might be worth having a cut-off point though if you want to keep your sanity intact.
11. Take the Time to Talk with Your Teenager
It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was a teenager myself, and some of the feelings I had at that time in my life are still quite fresh in my head.
I certainly remember feeling that nobody understood me, especially my parents.
You can really grab some valuable you and them time if you can sit down and take the time to listen to what they have to say, asking them lots of questions that relate to their life right now.
Teenagers don’t like to feel that they are being given a speech, and if I can quote Melvin J. Ballard, when he said, “a conversation where you do 90% of the talking is not a good conversation”.
They might open up a little if there’s just the two of you onboard, as this type of communication works a lot better as a one-on-one scenario.
Handy Hint: If you have younger children, then you might be interested in this guide I put together which includes fun ideas you can do on your pontoon boat with your kids.