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Taking to the water this summer doesn't have to mean a trip to the beach. Sometimes the most entertaining and educational trip for the whole family is one which encourages team work and participation. Canoeing or inflatable kayaking is an ideal way to take the family on a water-based outdoor adventure that is challenging but not too difficult. Learn about the environment, access remote areas, view wildlife and explore unchartered waters. The slow pace may be just the antidote to your fast family life.

Boundary Waters Outfitter (tel. 800/777-7348; www.boundarywatersoutfitters.com) operates canoe rental and camping services in the Boundary Waters canoe area of the Northwoods, Minnesota. Located along the Canadian Border, Northwoods wilderness encompasses over one million acres of woodlands and waterways in the heart of Superior National Forest and is the largest wilderness preserve east of the Rockies. It offers everything the active family would want in a summer getaway including swimming, fishing, canoeing, camping and a chance to explore. Their Â?Ultra LiteÂ? family vacation package for two adults and two children under the age of 17 is priced from $890 for four days -- a savings of over $200 off their regular rates. Add $250 per additional child and deduct $2 per person/per day if you bring your own sleeping bag and a further $3 per person/per day if you bring your own tent. The package includes Alumacraft Canoes with comfortable yokes; Carlisle Paddles; MTI Life Jackets; Kondos equipment packs with padded straps and hip belts; a Silva Compass; Eureka self-supporting tents; large tarp/dining fly; full-length self-inflating pads; Slumberjack sleeping bags; and Granite Gear compression sacks. In addition you also get four days worth of fresh food and menus; ultra-light cook kit with Utensils, a burner stove with extra fuel; dish soap and scrubber; collapsible water bucket; water filter; and miscellaneous additional equipment right down to the toilet paper and a portable solar shower on request. Trip routing and detailed maps are provided as are entry permit reservations, transportation to and from most Ely area entry and exit points, complete gear and food orientation; and hot showers after your trip. Extend your canoeing trip and get additional days from $200 per group.

Tag-A-Long Expeditions (tel. 800/453-3292; www.tagalong.com) operates canoe, kayak and river rafting trips along Green River, Utah, an area known for its beautiful landscape of giant old cottonwood trees intermingled with juniper and pinion trees plus its sheer canyon walls. A Green River rafting expedition takes you and your family for a paddle through 50 exciting rapids in inflatable kayaks with experienced Tag-A-Long guides. Younger children often enjoy this trip riding in the company of a guide on the big raft, while parents and teenagers tend to like the challenge of going it on their own on these challenging but fun Class II-III rapids. The four-day/five-night adventure is priced at $885 for adults and $735 for children. One inflatable per three to five participants is provided for the entire trip to share but should you prefer to have your own, a $10 a day for a single inflatable and $15 for a double inflatable rental fee applies. Camping gear rental is also additional (or you can bring your own). The trip price includes all meals prepared by the guides; a charter flight from Moab to Sand Wash field near Green River; instructions on handling your whitewater boat; paddling in the whitewater for four days (or if you decide you don't want to paddle, you can always ride the support raft with the guides); exploring the deep canyon of the Green River; tales of outlaw hideouts, cattle rustlers, Butch Cassidy etc.; visits to Native American land including the Ute Indian Reservation; and vehicle transport back to Moab at the end of the trip.

The Aloha Foundation (tel. 802/333-3405; www.alohafoundation.org) is a non-profit institution that oversees the operation of summer camps and the Hulbert Outdoor Center, a year-round outdoor education center in Maine that has been running wilderness trips for more than 25 years. Over the summer, Hulbert Outdoor Center offers six-day family canoe trips in the Rangeley Lakes region of Maine that commence on a Sunday from the Hulbert Outdoor Center. The trips are priced at $550 for adults and $450 for children aged eight to 16. The trip includes pre-departure orientation, canoe instruction and trip review trip; meals, clinics on paddling, outdoor cooking, tent site selection, camp organization, and minimal impact camping techniques; time to swim, fish and relax; route finding/map and compass clinic; four days of canoeing (paddling from Lake Cupsuptic to the first campsite at Birch Island; along Lake Mooselookmeguntic to the campsite at Birch Point and then on to Upper Dam and the Richardson Lakes); and van transportation back to Aloha for hot showers, a home cooked meal, and time to debrief. This trip is fully outfitted and includes transportation, canoes, cooking gear, group equipment, instruction, delicious food and lots of fun, safe adventure.

Noah's Ark (tel. 719/395-2158; www.noahsark.com) has a three-day family Gunnison River, Colorado Canoeing trip. Take the kids and guide your canoes through the classic red rock canyons of the Lower Gunnison River in the western Colorado plateau. Winding through the scenic Colorado Western Slope, the lower section of this beautiful waterway provides perfect Class I and II stretches of white water surrounded by a stunning western river canyon. The Noah's Ark canoeing program has been developed to give families a more interactive adventure where they can learn to guide their own canoes and experience the best in riverside camping and Colorado's wildlife. Three-day trips depart regularly from July to October and are priced at $335 per person for groups between eight and 16 participants. Children must be 12 years old to take part but no prior canoeing experience is required. The 39 mile trip starts in the town of Delta and ends in the town of Whitewater. All meals and equipment are supplied except for sleeping bags and tents and you are expected to arrive one day prior to the trip for orientation. Transportation to and from Delta is not included. A full list of suggested items to bring is included on the Noah's Ark website.

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