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Causecations Vacations - with a Giveback Component

Earth Day, Arbor Day, and a slew of other green initiatives have been present in our culture for years.  Disney just recently announced a tree-planting program in the endangered Brazilian rainforest for every person that attends the new Disneynature flick; visit www.treehugger.com or http://disney.go.com/disneynature/.  As a busy mom I, like you, search for ways to teach my son/children, the importance of the earth, the environment and being respectful to Mother Nature, a lesson my father drilled into me as a child. To quote my father, “leave the area as beautiful as it was upon arriving.”   As my son matures and has a greater understanding of the importance of nature, I look for ways to educate, and of course travel -- being a great educator, now offers opportunities for families to enjoy giving back with cause-based vacations; causecations.

Today, resorts from around the world offer causecations, defined by a resort or hotel chain actually contributing to a certain cause or charity they deem cause-worthy.  For example, The Reef Resort, an independent resort on Grand Cayman Island (www.thereef.com) offers a casuecation entitled Simple Adventure. For every package booked a $25 donation will be made in the guest’s name.  The package is affordable, fun and educational as guests are given maps to locate artisan designed Blue Iguana sculptures that dot the island. The purpose of these sculptures is to draw attention to these critically endangered creatures. Additionally, a special trip is included to the Queen Elizabeth II Botanical Park where the programme actually takes place.  Guests are given a tour, and one of the underpaid staffers that care for these dragon-like creatures relay the stories of each dragon and explain how the programme works. Today only 20 wild Blue Iguanas remain in the wild. Not only does this package provide wonderful learning opportunities, it opens the dialogue for families to discuss the importance of the environment and our place in it, while supporting an important cause on the island. If you prefer a chain hotel the Ritz-Carlton’s Give Back Getaways volunteer, vacation program is another option (corporate.ritzcarlton.com/en/About/GiveBackGetaways.htm). Guest’s work side-by-side with Ritz-Carlton staffers as each destination offers an opportunity for a half-day social or environmental program with all profits from the program donated to the partner organizations. Is your child interested in science and discovery? Emerald Palms on South Andros Island (www.emerald-palms.com/activities.html) hosts a reef monitoring volunteer activity.  Guests actually work with biologists to collect data, coral samples and more from the reef to monitor and report back changes in the surrounding environments. This activity does not provide a monetary giveback but it introduces a time giveback as guests record data that is collected and then used in the study of this reef.

Cruise lines have also gotten into the act and offer causecations. Holland America Line's “On Deck for the Cure” program was so successful last year that Carnival Corporation extended the year-round donation program to their four other Carnival brands and affords passengers to participate in the Susan B. Komen walks and other activities. This past summer, Holland America Line hosted the Seattle Komen Affiliate's annual Survivor Celebration luncheon for more than 400 guests onboard the ms Oosterdam. The Holland America Line Foundation donates 75%, or a minimum of $11.25, of each $15 donation to Komen for the Cure. The remaining 25% covers a portion of the program costs. For information about sailing dates and cruise destinations visit (www.hollandamerica.com).

Hopefully this article will broaden your idea about vacations, as they don’t all have to be self indulgent, or consumption based. Why not try something new, support a community, the earth’s oceans, an indigenous animal species or whatever is near and dear to your heart. Causecations offer huge learning opportunities, a time for family bonding, and it teaches children the importance of giving something back, while instantly illustrating how charitable actions have a positive impact.

Travel, giveback and learn!

A 2009 copyright of the article  – Causecations on BizyMoms is owned by Nina Zapala. Permission to republish this article in print or online must be granted by the author in writing via email or snail mail.

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