Excitement is building up at THS as students, faculty, and administration prepare for the end of the school year. Students are feverishly finishing projects, reviewing new concepts learned, and preparing for spending the summer away.
Does the idea of summer conjure up images of beaches or hiking in the jungle? Is your time spent visiting family overseas? Whatever your current plan, remember that travel provides perhaps the greatest opportunity for exposing your kids to unusual landscapes, diverse cultures, and new activities that spark learning. Visits to new cities and different countries will forever expand your student’s horizons.
Once upon a time, when my kids were quite young, our family headed away from home the day after school ended and returned the day before school began. Travelling throughout United States, from east coast to west, gave us the opportunity to see the country, meet different people, and introduce our children to amazing sites. Within hours, we could be exploring caves, swimming in warm oceans, or hiking to mountain tops and waterfalls. We learned about Native American tribes by visiting ancient homesites, explored deserted towns, and studied historical events and monuments. Fond memories were made as we participated in a cattle drive on horseback, rode white-water rapids in raging rivers, and gazed up at the starlit sky.
At the time, friends thought we were crazy...and perhaps we were a bit. Our family learned the give and take necessary risks in any travel adventure. While trip preparation was very time-consuming, the memories we all hold now are priceless.
Travel exposes children and adults to the best our world has to offer. Everywhere you go, there are endless opportunities to teach kids to appreciate their environment and protect the planet. Take them to plant seedlings in a park or wetland, participate in beach or forest clean-ups, watch turtles as they come ashore during nesting season, or visit a scientific research station. Summer is the best time for exploration and engaging in mind-expanding activities.
Great idea, but you wonder, how can this be accomplished?
Add to your travel an activity that allows your family to learn more about how to mitigate climate change. While enriching, travel adds to the greenhouse emissions. Set a goal to partially offset, at least some of your impact when you travel. Teach your children that our obligation is to reduce our travel-related carbon footprint hopefully, without diminishing our ability to visit family, friends, and see the world.
Take fewer flights when possible as direct flights result in a lower impact. Use more fuel efficient cars and reduce your speed while driving, use mass transit whenever possible, and walk or cycle around towns. All these activities will add to your enjoyment while lowering your carbon footprint.
Further, as part of your travel adventures, engage your family in activities that mitigate your impact. For example, set aside some time as a family to plant trees in a wetland or forest. Stay in an eco-friendly lodge powered by solar energy or one that engages in sustainable activities. Some lodges have special certifications to indicate that they meet environmental criteria. As always, reduce your use of single use items like brochures, paper cups, and plastic bags. Support local industry and farms through your purchases and be aware of your actions.
If we want to see a change in the world, it must begin with us. Let our actions be an example for our children. If we lead, they will follow.