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Children at AquaPaddle

Children are the future of AquaPaddle and part of our growing Community. To protect them we take Safeguarding very seriously.  

AquaPaddle defines a child as being under 18 years old, regardless of location. 

We welcome children to paddle with their parents or guardians. In fact, many teenagers are a lot better paddlers than their parents. This, however, can create challenges when children arrive at the finish area well ahead of their parents or guardians. To deal with this issue we have Meeting Points close to the finish where parents and guardians can meet up with their children. Children can wait safely at these areas under the protection of one of the volunteer marshals. 

AquaPaddles need to be a positive experience for all, including for children. That is why we have the following guidance for parents and guardians: 

  • All children under 11 must either be on the parent’s board or they can paddle alongside their parent if they have their own board and are strong enough
  • Children must start at the back of the fleet as the start is the most dangerous part of the AquaPaddle with some AquaPaddlers sprinting away along the course
  • If children are carried on a board, they must have a child appropriate buoyancy aid with a crotch strap and their own leash attached to the board. This leash should be attached to the buoyancy aid as small feet can slip through ankle leashes
  • All AquaPaddlers must be able to swim and be comfortable in the water. This includes children on their own boards
  • All children must have an age-appropriate buoyancy aid with crotch strap. Crotch straps must be used until the child has grown enough so that they don’t slip out of the buoyancy aid 
  • When on land, at the briefings and whilst crossing from land to water and back again, children under 13 must be accompanied by their parent or guardian
  • If the AquaPaddle team think an under 13 might have been unaccompanied they should enquire in a positive and friendly manner, ideally by identifying their parent or guardian, and then sensitively explain the policy. In almost all cases this solves the issue
  • Where the AquaPaddle teams believe that a family is repeatedly breaking the unaccompanied rule, they should politely explain that if they continue to paddle unaccompanied, they may not be included in the results in future
  • If at this point their behaviour does not change, event teams should inform AquaPaddle HQ via [email protected] who will assist
  • Whenever an under 13 is identified has having paddled without being accompanied, this should be logged as an incident by the Time Lord or AquaPaddle Captain


We encourage children to volunteer with their Parents or Guardians.  

  • Children can only be water-based volunteers if accompanied by their Parents or Guardian. In roles that are not mission critical
  • Children can work alongside adult volunteers in most areas on land. The only exception is as a Car Park Marshal

AquaPaddle Crew Responsibility 

  • At no point should event teams take responsibility for pairing children under the age of 13 with an adult
  • As with all volunteers, event teams must provide children who volunteer a high-visibility vest, provide adequate training in the relevant role, and give them clear information about what to do in case of an emergency or if they require assistance
  • The under 13s policy (see Safeguarding) is in place as a support tool for event teams to prevent inappropriate participation by younger children. The key principles of this policy should be communicated at all first timer and pre-event briefings, as well as repeated frequently on social media and event news pages. We should not be apologetic when explaining this policy
  • All discussions with a parent or guardian should be carried out in a supportive manner. Some parents find it difficult, and it can often be difficult for parents whose children are much faster than them. We should be understanding of this and provide encouragement but stress that the policy must be adhered to, and faster children should be asked to slow down so that their parent or guardian can keep up
  • Anything of concern should be raised with AquaPaddle HQ immediately, and appropriate action will be taken. In extreme cases, particularly where a child is seen as at immediate risk of harm, local emergency services should be contacted
  • At no point should teams attempt to physically prevent anyone from participating at an AquaPaddle event. If event teams believe a situation is unsafe, we ask them to contact emergency services. Our events are delivered in public areas of open water and the only sanction we can apply is to remove results, which should only be done by AquaPaddle HQ and in rare circumstances
  • Paddling whilst carrying a child of any age (whether in a front or back baby-carrier/harness, in arms, on shoulders or piggyback) is not permitted during an AquaPaddle events, as it poses a substantial safety risk