Last year, Rainer Jenss traveled around the world with his wife and two sons, and blogged about his experience here on Intelligent Travel. Now he’s writing a column that focuses on traveling with kids.
This week marks the last week of school for my sons, and so naturally we’re busy planning activities for the boys this summer. The Campparents.org site, run by the American Camp Association, has a list of over 2,400 accredited camps (which have met their 300 standards for safety, health, and other conditions) and a robust database that lets you search by your child’s age, by price, state, activity focus, family involvement…you get the idea.
Since both our boys are now old enough to become certified scuba divers, we are taking advantage of a one-week kids’ scuba camp being offered by a dive shop, Blue Water Divers, in Rochelle Park, N.J. Its camp director, Lorraine Riscinti, explained to me that she started the program in 2001 in response to the increasing number of families who wanted to travel together to go diving. “It’s a great way to occupy the kids during the summer and get them certified at the same time,” she explained.
This is now possible since PADI in 2000 lowered the minimum age requirement to earn a Junior Open Water certification from 12 years old to 10. Kids still have to cover all the same classroom materials and pool work that the adults do in order to certify and must complete the certification dives as well. The only difference is that children under 14 cannot dive deeper that 40 feet and must be accompanied by a certified adult diver. At age fifteen, the diver may upgrade to a regular PADI Open Water Diver certification without further training.
Another program we signed our older son (age 13) up for is a one-week photography camp being conducted by Chris Carroll, the owner of Light Box Studios in Nyack, New York. During our year-long travels around the world, Tyler developed a keen interest in photography that has stayed with him ever since. To expand his technical knowledge, refine his skills, and nurture his creativity, this camp seemed like a natural fit.
But before I could sign him up, Chris emphasized that he would accept only children who really want to be there. “The last thing I want to do'” he pointed out, “is run a day-care service for parents looking for someone to watch their children.” Happily, Tyler and his older cousin qualified.
Finally, we are also considering sending our boys to a Whale Camp in Grand Manan Island, Canada that some friends of ours have sent their children to. It offers the opportunity to closely observe and study whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals and puffins in their natural habitat and would be a terrific way for the boys to have fun with other kids with the same curiosity for wildlife that they have. If it all works out, then maybe Carol and I can even pursue our own one-week vacation for two in and around the beautiful Maine/Nova Scotia area.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
If you have any interesting camps that you are sending your children to this summer, we’d love to hear about them.
You can follow Rainer Jenss on Twitter at @JenssTravel
Photos: Rainer Jenss