What developmental experiences can we give our youth during those all-important teenage years? There are many great experiences and teachable moments that you can (and should) expose your children to while you still have some amount of influence on them. Travel should be one of them.
Here are some of our top picks not just for traveling, but for experiencing life lessons.
Imagine your child exhausted, irritable and gasping for breath as they reach the summit of a mountain. Why would you want your child to endure such a thing?
Because as we all know, the moment you reach the top, your attitude changes. This is never more apparent than when you have come face to face with physical exhaustion. Sure, your child won’t want to do it, and they may complain and whine, but once up on that lofty perch, a sense of accomplishment and freedom will fill their soul. And they’ll have a memory for a lifetime.
Teens need to know they belong to something bigger than themselves. And there is nothing in this world bigger than the ocean.
Our oceans provide clean air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat, new medicines, a climate we can live in, beauty, and inspiration. Oh, and recreation too. Our childrens’ future security, economy, and very survival require healthy oceans. Without our oceans there is no life on Earth. Our children want a better future and it’s important to make sure they understand it. It’s the smart and the right thing to do.
English is the primary language for just 5.6% of the world’s total population, which doesn’t bode well for the future of our teens in a global society.
Learning another language opens up new opportunities and gives high school students perspectives and an increased global understanding that they might never otherwise gain. When children remain monolingual their educational development is compromised, and communication and thinking becomes restricted. As globalization and mobility bring the world closer together, it is ever more important for our children to learn other languages to understand and appreciate the world in which we live.
Children are instinctively curious naturalists. They are sponges, able to absorb, retain, and use new information at astounding rates. They are our future ambassadors of nature, its inhabitants and our world.
These children will become our next leaders and the voice of our universe. While an abundance of wildlife exists in the world, many species are dwindling and many may soon be extinct. It makes sense to teach our teens kindness and compassion so their decisions are rooted in a deeply caring ethic. We’ve reintroduced 120 species into the wild over the last several decades. When we succeed, as we did with the bald eagle, it gives us hope.
“No culture can live, if it attempts to be exclusive.” – Mohandas K. Gandhi,
Culture influences views, values, humor, hopes, loyalties, worries and fears.
Without the ability to communicate and understand a culture different from our own, on its own terms, true access to the knowledge of that culture is barred. In a world where nations and peoples are ever more dependent upon one another, the importance of teaching our teens intercultural sensitivity, trust, understanding,, negotiation and compromise has never been greater.
Exposing teens to people from cultures different from their own creates allies against racism and other forms of discrimination. They go on to create organizations in which diverse groups can work together, overcome internalized oppression, and build strong and diverse communities.
Research shows that the benefits of exposure to nature are innumerable. In the midst of adolescent uncertainty, teens feel at peace when they experience the earth around them. There are few comforts in our world that offer the gift nature offers.
As institutions grapple with a generation of agricultural researchers nearing retirement age, our children see few qualified mentors to take their place and pass on their knowledge. Worse, there are few teens interested in agriculture at a time when teaching them about our land and food systems is critical. Responsible agriculture that meets global food security needs without depleting its resources can only become a reality if teens are actively engaged and involved in shaping the sector’s future.