Dineo Dowd heads out on outdoor adventures with her family

Dineo Dowd always comes prepared on a kayak outing.
Dineo dowd getting ready to go into the water
Photo by Sharon Vanorny
Dineo Dowd with daughter Armani

Dineo Dowd always comes prepared on a kayak outing.

She kind of has to, with a 6-year-old and a dog in tow. Her daughter, Armani, gets hungry the minute they hit the water, so Dowd usually packs sandwiches or ice cream treats. And her dog, Zulu, loves jumping out of the kayak to swim, so they wear their suits and make sure to have a sealed bag for anything they want to keep dry.

“A double kayak is a must when you have a family,” says Dowd, who notes that the double and single kayaks she and her husband own are nothing special and weren’t expensive, but they work perfectly for them.

Armani is the Dowds’ “adventure baby,” whom they introduced to the outdoors right from the start. Dowd met her husband, Bryce, while living in Utah and found they shared the same passion for exploring and enjoying nature. “I’m so in love with this lifestyle, so I said yes to the adventure when I married him,” she says. And now their daughter is along for the ride, too, whether it’s on a kayak, canoe or in the new Winnebago RV they’re testing this year as product ambassadors.

dineo and her daughter on the water

Photo by Sharon Vanorny

Dowd started a blog about her outdoor activities when she came to Wisconsin about four years ago. She’s also the author of several children’s books about nature, which offer diverse representation. It’s long been important for Dowd to break the stereotype that outdoor activities are just for white people.

“[I’m] reaching out to people of color [and showing that] there are so many things you can do out there,” Dowd says.

Dowd and her family do most of their kayaking on Pine River, where they have a place just 20 minutes from Green Lake. Kayaking in the Madison area happens less often — since Dowd doesn’t have a vehicle with which to easily tow her kayak to a launch site — but she has gotten out a few times over the years at Tenney and Olbrich parks. Her family also likes canoeing, but that involves renting a canoe, usually for an overnight trip.

On daytrips, their paddling excursions usually last between two and four hours. There’s a small spot for their cooler and they always pack the sunscreen and a first-aid kit. They’ll stop at sand beaches, take pictures, eat lunch and sometimes go for a dip to cool off. “There’s something special about kayaking; it’s just so relaxing,” Dowd says.

Life jackets are worn at all times, Dowd says, stressing the importance of setting an example for her daughter. After life jackets, the second most important thing to bring on a kayak outing is a good attitude, she says: “Be excited and be willing to communicate and learn.”

Click here for more paddling.

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