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Ecotourism 101: How can children benefit from an ecotourism experience?
Ecotourism is full of what educators call teachable moments or, more definitively, unplanned opportunities to explain a concept that has unintentionally captured a child’s interest. Whether it is touring the rainforests of the Amazon, observing blue footed boobies throughout the Galapagos Islands, or understanding the water issues that surround the Okavango Delta in Botswana, ecotourism is a vacation experience that provides boundless opportunities to teach younger generations about the fragility of ecosystems and the significance of heritage.
Who among us has not witnessed the common occurrence while visiting the local zoo, going hiking through the wilderness or even watching a local artistic exhibit of children looking with absolute wonder and amazement at the spectacle of music, art, flora or fauna? There is delight followed by an onslaught of illuminating questions about people and the natural world. And, these teachable moments mark milestones for a child’s personal growth and development. According to John Bakers of Amazonia Travel, the value system that is at the core of ecotourism can be a positive influence on all age groups, not just the young. Specifically, children can benefit from an ecotourism vacation because the experience offers an opportunity for:
- Instruction about indigenous wildlife – ecotours are not only small group tours that allow for up-close-and-personal views of nature, but ones that are generally led by a naturalist that have been trained to understand plants, birds, insects and animals and their relationships to ecosystems thereby bringing education alive
- Increased awareness about environmental degradation – an important component of ecotourism is to inform tourists about ways to minimize waste, soil erosion, air and water pollution so as not to disturb the environment - lessons that no doubt will stay with children
- Involvement with conservation efforts – whether it’s helping to record sea turtle activity in Greece or understand the destructive role of invasive plant species in the wilderness, ecotourism allows for deep knowledge of the fragility of the natural world
- Focus on the depletion of natural resources – whether its learning about how an eco-lodge harnessed solar or wind power for their operations or how countries are implementing renewable bio-energy to power engines, ecotourism teaches how other countries are using low-carbon technologies today
- Exposure to cultural experiences – from tasting new foods to learning phrases in a foreign language, ecotourism interprets cultural traditions and experiences that provide long-lasting impressions about the world
- Inspiration for a life’s passion – while snorkeling through a coral reef or observing animals in their natural habitat in Africa, ecotourism sparks the imagination to dream about a career or even find a solution to an environmental problem
Dedication to the cause of the environment and its preservation can have a long-lasting impact on the way our younger generations view social involvement and economic success.
Check out our sustainable family trips that are just perfect for your little greenies!