* The vision of two young friends happily paddling down the Ventura River is the image of our California lifestyle, and one we should be proud of ("Rafting on the River," photos, April 19). What is wrong with this picture is that these boys are not wearing life vests, and from the photo at the top of the page it is apparent that they did not have any safety equipment, such as flotation cushions, with them.
Every year we read in The Times about our youth drowning in boating and river accidents, and all too often these tragedies could have been prevented by taking a basic and required ounce of prevention. I want my three sons to enjoy the same pleasures these boys did, but at the same time, I require them to be safe and use the proper safety equipment in whatever sport they participate in. I hope The Times sees these photos in a new light, and will print something in a prominent position, encouraging any children (and parents) who have seen this, and think the same activity would be fun, to do so responsibly, and use the proper safety gear.