5 eco-adventures for kids

Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton

Children explore tide pools at Kapalua Bay in Maui as part of The Ritz-Carlton’s Ambassadors of the Environment program.

Kids clubs at resorts have long been a great way for parents to grab some precious alone time for a few hours while the kids toss water balloons, swim with peers, and complete a few arts and crafts activities. Many kids clubs are now making environmental awareness a key component, taking kids on beach excursions to track wildlife or plant seedlings. 

“Getting children alone, away from parents, in the environment enables them to really express themselves and explore without any constraints,” says Liz King, who heads up the Junior Naturalist program for the Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina. “The main goal of our program is to not just give out information, but to provide hands-on experiences, and do a lot of outside exploration.”

Chris Niemeyer of Jacksonville, Ore., recently took his family to the Fairmont Southampton in Bermuda where the staff taught his young kids about natural water sources (Bermuda doesn’t have any), showing them how roof construction is designed to catch as much water as possible. “Seems like the kids’ minds kicked into gear as they became more aware of the differences around them as compared to home,” he says.

Here are five resorts with kids clubs that let kids have an impact on the world around them:

Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua – Maui, Hawaii
Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment program offers eco-adventures for kids ages 5 and up. With three separate programs each day, kids can investigate tide pools, hike to ancient lava flows to learn how the Hawaiian Islands were formed and create jewelry using native Hawaiian plants and beach glass, while always exploring the relevance of local culture. Price range: $59-$79 per three-hour activity.

Fairmont Southampton – Southampton, Bermuda
Children ages 5 to 12 in the Explorers Camp can take part in daily EnviroKids activities, enabling them to play a role in Bermuda’s conservation efforts. Four days a week, campers can hike to Horseshoe Bay to uncover why the sand is pink, help protect the Eastern Blue Bird or plant seedlings to grow near-extinct Bermuda Cedar Trees, allowing kids to leave their mark on the island. Price: $30 per day.

Four Seasons Resort Nevis West Indies – Charlestown, Nevis
The Kids for All Seasons program (ages 3 to 9), focuses on endangered sea turtles. Kids go on turtle-watch beach walks and can even “adopt” a sea turtle during nesting season, which runs from June through October, from a group of turtles that are satellite-tagged for research. When the children go home, they can track the migratory patterns of their sea turtles online year-round. Price: free for hotel guests; evening turtle walks are $25 per person.

Trump International Beach Resort – Sunny Isles Beach, Fla.
Here you’ll find Planet Kids, for those ages 4 to 12. The club offers an enviro-adventures curriculum that teaches kids about ocean ecosystems, how sand is formed and what to do to protect local marine life. Kids even collect items found on the beach for arts and crafts. Price: free for hotel guests, with extra fees for meals and art supplies.

Kiawah Island Golf Resort – Kiawah Island, S.C.
Kids ages 8 to 13 can sign up for the Junior Naturalist program, which offers a hands-on approach to exploring nature. Kids can take one or all five classes, and if they complete the series they become an official Junior Naturalist. Each class focuses on a different topic, like entomology — which includes a nature walk to collect insects — and wildlife tracking, which features a beach excursion to find animal tracks. Price range: $20-$40 per 90-minute program. 

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