Jacques Cousteau is synonomous with protecting the world’s oceans. His grandson is continuing the Cousteau legacy by introducing new generations to the wondrous riches buried under the sea. He’s partnered with Ritz-Carlton resorts in creating the most unique kids program you can imagine, “Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment”.
Not Your Average Kids Camp
Stay at the luxurious Ritz-Carlton Resort on Seven Mile Beach and while you’re getting a taste of your favorite frozen drink, your kids can get a taste of Caymanian culture and ecology.
This is not your typical kids camp, you won’t find your kids coloring and playing video games here. Instead, trained environmentalists who delight in introducing kids to the natural wonders of the Caribbean are running a classroom your kids will likely never want to leave. These environmental and cultural “ambassadors” lead outings for young children to teenagers, from snorkeling to kayaking to underwater photography.
There are drop off programs where kids as young as 4 can learn about the stingrays that populate nearby Stingray City or take an underwater thrill ride aboard the Atlantis submarine.
It’s not just the little ones who get to have fun at the Ritz. Courses in underwater photography, snorkeling and nightime stargazing will make even the toughest teen want to unplug their itouch! If you’re looking for quality together time, there are also guided family programs where you can snorkel to shipwrecks or kayak through mangroves.
There are 3 Ambassadors of the Environment programs- one at the Ritz Laguna Niguel in Southern California, another at Hawaii’s Ritz Kapalua and the one we visited at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman. Each one is designed to highlight the local environment, culture and natural resources.
Into the Wild
Unique to the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman is a visit to the breeding facility for the endangered Cayman blue iguana, found nowhere else in the world. Our kids loved getting a behind-the-scenes
look at how these colorful reptiles, once on the edge of extinction, are now thriving due to the hard work of dedicated environmentalists. Located 45 minutes from the hotel in charming Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, the gardens themselves are worth the drive, but seeing the blue iguanas roaming freely throughout the manicured trails was a royal treat!
Home Base for the Ambassadors
The beautifully-designed Ambassadors of the Environment facility at the Ritz- Carlton Grand Cayman features a state of the art environmental and cultural education center. Located in a quaint Caymanian cottage, a brightly painted underwater mural makes for a delightful classroom space. The energetic environmentalist educators who run the program were friendly and knew just how to relate to kids of different ages. They also had unique ways of showing kids how respecting the local Cayman environment extends into the world at large, too. Classes also demonstrate how what’s happening locally connects to the larger world and why it’s important to preserve.
Andrea Guthmann is a freelance journalist. She spent many years as a writer and producer for WTTW-TV, the PBS station in Chicago. Her travel stories have been published in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Parent, Make It Better and on-line travel sites.
A native Floridian, Andrea’s now a big (windy) city mom of 3, who range in age from tot to teen. She loves sailing Lake Michigan and visiting the world class museums and restaurants in her sweet home Chicago. Being a scenery starved city girl, she loves escaping to the outdoors during vacations and is working hard to raise 3 happy campers!
Disclosure: The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman hosted our family’s visit, but the opinions here are all my own.