10 Tips to Maximize the Educational Value of Your 2012 Family VacationBUFFALO, N.Y. (July 31, 2012) – If this is the year you want to get more from your family vacation than thrill rides and an empty wallet, try an edu-tourism vacation. While all travel is in some way educational, there are easy ways to boost interest and learning by getting the entire family involved in the planning.
Delaware North Companies, headquartered in Buffalo, N.Y., realized this trend through its special destinations in national and state parks and its eco-friendly destinations adjacent to places such as the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
“We operate in some of the most magical places on Earth,” said Wendy Watkins, vice president of corporate communications for Delaware North Companies.” As a mom of two tweens, I want more from my family vacations than theme park lines and crowds – I want an experience the family will remember, an experience that will teach them something and stay with them for their entire lives. I can take them to Kennedy Space Center and they can have a great time while at the same time learn about space exploration. Or, I can take them to Yosemite National Park and they can learn about rock formations and conservation and then hike through a field of wildflowers in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.”
Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts operates a number of the leading edu-tourism destinations across the world. Its edu-tourism experts put together a top 10 tip list to help families.
Tip One: Map your educational travel plans to match the special interests of your family.
DESTINATION: Yellowstone National Park, Montana
Endless explorations and experiments are waiting for “Young Scientists” here.
“Young Scientist” booklets and toolkits can be purchased at Delaware North-operated general stores and the company’s three hotels in West Yellowstone. The toolkit includes a thermometer, stopwatch and other gear to better understand Old Faithful Geyser. For more info: http://www.nps.gov/yell/forteachers/youngscientist.htm
Tip Two: Look for destinations that enhance classroom lessons with the real thing. DESTINATION: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Florida
Children and adults can get a rare behind-the-scenes glance at NASA’s launch headquarters, meet a veteran astronaut, see giant rockets, train in spaceflight simulators and even watch a real launch. The Visitor Complex is hands-on learning at its best and most fun. For more info: http://www.kennedyspacecenter.com
Tip Three: Go to the destination website as a family to learn what there is to do and see. DESTINATION: Kings Canyon, Australia
A visit to Kings Canyon in the Wantarrka National Park is like “nowhere else on earth.” Pictures on the website will make the entire family want to hop a plane and go down under to explore this ancient land in the heart of the Australian outback. Wilderness adventures can be had on quad bikes, camels and on foot with possible run-ins with kangaroos or dingoes. For more info: http://www.kingscanyonresort.com.au/Activities-Quad-Bikes-and-Camels.aspx
Tip Four: Look for on-site ‘classes’ for hands-on learning.
DESTINATION: Yellowstone National Park, Montana
The not-for-profit Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center located near Delaware North hotels and the west entrance in West Yellowstone lets kids take part in feeding the bears. The “Keeper Kids” program lets children ages 5 to 12 accompany a naturalist into the bear habitat to hide food for resident bears. “Keeper Kids” is offered twice daily during the summer, space is limited. For more info:http://grizzlydiscoveryctr.com/
Tip Five: Explore the newest list of ‘wonders of the world’ and plan a trip to one.
DESTINATION: Niagara Falls State Park, New York
Attractions here let visitors get up close to one of the wonders of the world located in Western New York. The “Cave of the Winds” takes visitors 175 feet down into the gorge and lets them walk a wooden walkway along the edge of the falls. The Niagara Gorge Discovery Center provides interactive, hands-on displays of the natural wonder. For more info: http://niagarafallsstatepark.com/explore.aspx
Tip Six: Learn new skills together while on your vacation that can help enhance or record your travels.
DESTINATION: Yosemite National Park, California
You and your family can sign up for a four-hour Ansel Adams photography class. Or take the Glacier Point Stargazing Tour that begins with lessons on the park’s diverse natural and cultural history and ends with a one-hour astronomy program under the stars.
DESTINATION: Sequoia National Park, California
Visitors can also reach for the stars at Wuksachi Lodge at Sequoia National Park. Sign up for summer astronomy programs that take advantage of the lodge’s 7,200-foot elevation.
For more info:
Tip Seven: Organize a youth or school group for an unforgettable, overnight field trip.
DESTINATION: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Florida
What kid wouldn’t love a sleep over “in space?” The Overnight Adventure program is for groups of 10 or more youths ages 7-14. Young explorers get to meet a veteran astronaut, watch a 3D IMAX film on space exploration and solve the “Great Rocket Scavenger Hunt.”
Tuition: $99 plus tax per participant. For more info: http://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/youth-education.aspx
Tip Eight: Learn geography and culture by picking destinations across the globe.
DESTINATION: Heron’s Island, Australia
Once your child locates Heron’s Island along Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, do an online search of its history and marine life. As one of Delaware North’s most exotic and family-friendly resorts, there are wildlife hikes and snorkeling experiences for everyone. There is also a “Jr. Ranger” program led by marine biologists to teach kids how to care for the environment and its creatures.
For more info: http://www.heronisland.com/Junior-Rangers.aspx
Tip Nine: Bundle your edu-tourism vacation with sporting interests.
DESTINATION: Sequoia National Park, CA
Where better to try your hand at fly fishing than in Sequoia National Park? At the Sierra Fly Fisher program at Sequoia National Park, expert fly fishing guides offer half-day and full-day excursions, including a great introduction to the sport for beginners. Fee includes all gear.
DESTINATION: Yosemite National Park, CA
How about a moonlit bike ride through Yosemite National Park? All summer, during a full moon, visitors can sign up for the Full Moon Bike ride. Fee: $20 (includes bike rental), $5 (with own bike)
For more info:
Tip Ten: Learn to relax while on vacation with the family.
DESTINATION: Harrison Hot Springs, British Columbia, Canada
Teach your kids the importance of learning to relax and enjoy life. At Delaware North’s Harrison Hot Springs Resort & Spa, the pace of daily living is put back in the hands and feet of our guests. First on the agenda: a dip or an extended immersion into the resort’s many mineral hot pools. Learn the history of the medicinal properties and rejuvenating effects of the Harrison Hot Springs pools. Families can also explore Vancouver-area hiking trails or head to Harrison Lake for some water fun.
For more info: http://www.harrisonresort.com/Hot-Springs-Pools.aspx