Children learn their most valuable life-lessons when they are young. This is why it is so important that a child have the opportunity to truly experience the beauty of nature.
If you are a person that wants to instil a profound respect and love for nature and sustainability in your children’s lives, the time to do this is now. Children are never too young to experience nature. Spending good time in nature will create an appreciation for the moment and the surroundings, in the young.
Ecotourism as defined by TIES (International Ecotourism Society) is “Responsible travel to the natural environment that protects the environment, maintains the lives of locals, and educates travelers about nature.”
The theory of ecotourism contains 3 pillars: Nature conservation, financial benefits for the local community and being a learning experience for visitors. It is recommended, especially when introducing nature to children, to include the services of a local ranger who is able to explain about the nature / natural habitat, the area, history and culture from a specialists’ perspective. The amazing thing about having a local ranger as a guide, is that they know where all of the best locations are and can introduce you to the rare species, so that you and your family can have an unforgettable experience. Making good use of local resources, including guides is also beneficial to the local community, as opposed to benefiting only large tourism organisations.
If you are interested in ecotourism for children as a route for the family to enjoy nature, and education for children, there are a plethora of options available to you. Village stays in exotic locations and popular ecolodges with accompanying nature based activities have all proven popular for families travelling with young children.
Children have a unique ability to have empathy for varying cultures and practices different than their own. This creates an ideal opportunity to not only teach your child about nature, but also to introduce them to other cultures. Children are usually quite fascinated by these learning experiences, including the memories made, which could last a lifetime.
There are many ecolodges and ecotourism activities which are family-oriented in the destinations of your choosing. It is recommended to do some online research and to look mainly for traveller reviews which mention the family, and a family environment. Ecotourism for children is a fun and wonderful way to get the entire family involved!
If you are looking for shorter time family oriented eco activities in order to allow your little one(s) to gain some experience, there are yet many possibilities. For example, a day outdoors in the nature, or looking the stars are a simple yet effective way to relay information about the value and beauty of nature to your child. Other daytime activities could include light trekking or taking a family trip to a farm near your area to purchase (and taste!) some freshly grown goodies. Learning an appreciation for nature in all its beauty, does not require big investments of money or resources. It truly can be as simple as walking in the forest while taking care not to disturb the flora or fauna.
Getting your child involved at the local level can also involve learning about local history, the native populace and culture or heritage-based handicraft, dancing and traditions. These are all fun activities that children enjoy doing while learning at the same time.
Children who have had the opportunity to experience nature and culture are provided with a solid foundation on which to build on with additional experiences well into their adult lives. Nature education for children is a valuable life resource.
If you are interested in getting your children involved in ecotourism, please check out this article about Environmental Education!
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