Grab the Kids & Get Out There

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This week’s blog post was written by Kristin Trowbridge- Alford, the Vice President of the Coosa Riverkeeper Board of Directors. Kristin is a busy mom of five, outdoor enthusiast, and always pursuing new adventures with her crew. This week she gives you the skinny on how to have a fun & safe adventure on the Coosa and her skinny waters. 

If you’re like me, you’re thinking about water right about now.  Clean, cool water.  Something to dunk yourself in, cooling off body temperature and worries and letting responsibilities drift downstream for a bit.

And if you’re like me, you may have kids who have been out of school for four months now, with no certainty of school.  We are all hot, we are all on top of each other, and our local pools keep closing every time a lifeguard gets COVID-19. 

As a Coosa Riverkeeper Board Member, I feel lucky to be in the know.  Swimming hole options are abundant and what better way to explore your local watershed than to swim its tributaries and creeks!  I’m talking rope swings, tubing, coolers of cold drinks, waterfalls, skinny water and a sunset picnic.  And you don’t have to go far!

Below is a quick list of tips and packing ideas to get you out there!

For starters, I ALWAYS refer to only Coosa Riverkeeper’s recent Swim Guide data to check water quality (things aren’t as clean out there as when we were kids), AND the national Swim Guide app.  Both resources help me to find new swimming holes, but more importantly, they show me recent data on water quality checks so I know it’s safe to swim before we go. 

Like any other hobby, I recommend you have a couple of bags or bins dedicated to your swimming adventures.  Otherwise, the task of packing can feel daunting to an already exhausted parent and who needs another obstacle to tackle?

I love my roll top pack by Patagonia where I can throw wet bathing suits in the mesh pouch before we head home.  Inside this bag is where we keep a change of dry clothes (I make my kids pack this on their own) and also where I keep backup disposable swim diapers and wipes for my toddler (I always prefer a washable, reusable high quality swim diaper which equals less waste, but a backup can come in handy.)

I also have an oversized beach bag that is dedicated to towels, snorkels and sunscreen.  As soon as we get home, I wash towels and swim suits and repack the bag.  This can be done while holding a cold beverage and congratulating yourself on giving the kids a memorable day.

Feel free to print this list and keep it on the fridge, and go have some fun! 

Here’s to memories on the river!

On Me:

Sporty swim suit

Water shoes (Think Chacos, Tevas, Keens…)

Board shorts

River hat (Or represent the Coosa!)

UPF Sun Protection shirt

Sunglasses with floating strap

Wet/dry bag:

Change of clothes for each family member

Disposable swim diapers


Regular diapers for after swimming

Beach bag:

Marine-safe Sunscreen such as Beautycounter’s non-nano zinc sunscreens 

DEET-free Bug Spray


Goggles, masks, snorkels and fins

What’s in My Cooler:

  • Ice packs or ice
  • Cold canned drinks (Avoid glass at swimming holes; aluminum is recyclable and gentler on the planet than plastic.)
  • Trail mix (Chocolate will melt.)
  • Any stick sunscreens (Which will also melt.)
  • Oranges or easy to eat fruit that won’t bruise
  • Sandwiches (I make these ahead of time and pack inside a large resealable plastic bag which then becomes our trash bag. To keep sandwiches from getting soggy, try spreading a thin layer of butter on the inside of each slice of bread.)

Things I always keep in my car:

Two low-profile beach chairs (So you can sink your legs into that running water!)

Trash bags (I like to incorporate a quick, impromptu river cleanup as we leave.)

Trash pickup claws

First-aid kit


Beach blanket or serape

Hand sanitizer

Covid-19 masks

Other things you may want to bring:

Inflatables for floating

Your dog and a leash

Fishing poles and tackle boxes