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Some of my BEST experiences have been getting kids out on the water! Like all of us adults, some kids are fearless and some have more fear than one can imagine. It is that AH-HAAA moment you can really see it click with kids, and it doesn't take very long.

Your mini me has incredible balance and a very open mind when it comes to trying to walk on water or paddleboard. I find coaching these little athletes listen better when their parents aren't around (let me add, AS WITH MY OWN KIDS).

I know my kids listen better at school than at home because they have probably a few more rules to follow and peers to get embarrassed by. Same with being on the water. And, there's awesome rules that apply when safety is a factor and their fear level is just high enough. Kids 12 and under MUST wear a life jacket, or personal floatation device (PFD) at all times. Adults can choose to wear a life jacket but everybody MUST have a life jacket on board (or on their vessel).

If they are lucky enough to see some of the wonders of the waterways (dolphin, manatee, sharks) they make an immediate connection and are usually hooked right after that.

See Specific PFD requirements below, as listed in

  • All vessels must have at least one Type I, II, III, or V personal flotation device (life jacket) that is U.S. Coast Guard–approved, wearable, and of the proper size for each person on board or being towed. Sizing for PFDs is based on body weight and chest size.

  • South Carolina law requires all children under 12 years of age to wear a U.S. Coast Guard–approved Type I, II, III, or V PFD while on board a vessel less than 16 feet long. The life jacket must be fastened and of the proper size for the child.

  • In addition to the above requirements, vessels 16 feet in length or longer must have one Type IV (throwable) U.S. Coast Guard–approved PFD on board.

  • One Type V PFD may be substituted for any other type if it is specifically approved by the U.S. Coast Guard for the activity at hand. Type V PFDs may not be substituted on children weighing less than 90 lbs.

  • Each person riding on a PWC must wear a U.S. Coast Guard–approved Type I, II, III, or V personal flotation device.

  • Each person being towed behind a vessel must wear a U.S. Coast Guard­–approved Type I, II, III, or V PFD.

  • All PFDs must be in good and serviceable condition and must be readily accessible.

  • In certain situations, paddleboards must carry a USCG-approved PFD for each person on board.

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