Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Vacation: amusement park or nature holiday?

The weather is sunny and warm, the holidays are quickly approaching and parents are planning a family vacation that will be enjoyable, enriching, and enhance the good health of each family member.

Given a choice, the younger members of the group will opt for a trip to an amusement resort. For once their opinion should be overruled. The adults must cast the deciding votes.

There can't be a better choice than choosing a destination which will introduce children to the wonders of nature. A nature holiday is especially important for children who live in a city, but even those from rural areas will benefit from a change of scenery, and an opportunity to explore a different environment.

Farm families might visit the seashore, a lake, the mountains or a wooded area. Children who live near the ocean would profit from visiting a farm, or from a camping experience. Parents may choose a different area each year in order to familiarize the family with each of nature's varied faces.

Nature is real life. Amusement parks are glitzy, glitter and make-believe. Young people need to experience first hand the glories of our endangered planet. Their generation will be responsible for restoring it to a balanced and sustainable condition.

Environmental Studies is an important topic on the curriculum of most schools today. How can a student be motivated to work for environmental concerns if all he knows is an apartment building in the inner city? He needs firsthand experience of the natural world and all that it has to offer.

Many important skills can be taught in an interesting way during a back-to-nature vacation. Geography and navigational skills will be assimilated if there is a map available with the route highlighted in a a bold color. This strategy will also eliminate the endless queries, "Are we nearly there yet?"

Opportunities for informal Science lessons will abound. Besides becoming familiar with the flora and fauna of the area, the value of fresh air, clean water and unpolluted soil can be indelibly instilled in young minds while they are actually standing in a vast expanse of unspoiled natural beauty.

Adults should admit that our generation has played a significant role in despoiling the natural habitat of many of earth's creatures, including the human species, and discussions may follow as to how the damage might be repaired. Bright young minds can't begin too early to ponder these problems.

Children with a literary bent should be encouraged to keep a journal, recording impressions and discoveries upon which to reflect at a later time. Young artists should bring along a sketch pad and colored pencils to capture picturesque scenes to share with friends and extended family when they get home.

Everyone will need lots of engrossing reading material. Even the most stalwart vacationer will engage in only limited activities in the natural environment when it's raining.

On fine days, fresh air and exercise together promote wellness and encourage lasting family bonding. Hiking, swimming, fishing, exploring, starting collections of stones, sea shells or other items of interest will keep bodies moving and minds active. This is the type of vacation which will help children grow physically, mentally, and emotionally. No amusement resort can match these benefits.

Children, being children, will campaign strenuously for a holiday at an amusement resort. Parents, being older and wiser, should make the final decision and plan a nature-centered vacation. In the interest of keeping peace in the family, an afternoon at the amusement park could be scheduled for the trip home.

Rewards will be evident the following year: better school grades, increased stamina and better health, a wider base of general knowledge, and more interest and enthusiasm for Environmental Studies projects.

Parents will have the satisfaction of knowing the decision was best not only for their children, but that its consequences will be beneficial for their grandchildren and great-grandchildren as well. The quality of life enjoyed by future generations will depend on values and priorities we pass along in our families now.

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