Unusual Summer Programs and Travel Programs for Kids

categories: Uncategorized

If you are looking for something unusual for your kids to do this summer you have come to the right place. Some of these will involve travel for the whole family and some will let you stay at home, but all of them are different from the YMCA camp or swim lessons I took as a kid in the summer.

Table of contents: (Hide)

Travel Programs in Asia

Volunteering at the Elephant Forest Refuge, Thailand

Photo from The Elephant Refuge

Volunteering at the Elephant Forest Refuge, Thailand

The Thai Elephant Refuge offers visitors the opportunity to work hands-on with rescued elephants. This sanctuary, located 100 miles southwest of Bangkok, presents families with the chance to learn first-hand how to care for these majestic creatures.

Travelers wanting to experience working with elephants are taught how to wash, feed, and collect food for these animals while also cleaning out their enclosures. Volunteers are required to make a minimum one-week commitment, but the memories that parents and their children create will last a lifetime.

Visitors stay on the ground in bungalows that feature multiple beds and running water. Meals are served in a large kitchen to encourage a bonding experience with staff and volunteers.

Travel Programs in Africa

Lion Conservation Project, Zimbabwe

Photo from African Impact

Lion Conservation Project, Zimbabwe

There is something truly fascinating about waking up in a 3,000-acre grassland that is open to all types of native animals. At the Wildlife Conservation Project in Zimbabwe, volunteers work in tandem with volunteers to observe, care and monitor lions before they are released back into the wild.

Visitors to the complex work with the staff to clean, feed, maintain and study these beautiful creatures in a hands-on environment. Your days are filled with education about why it is so essential to help with the conservation efforts to save and preserve these lions in their native habitat.

But the trip isn’t all about work. There are also ample chances to enjoy the surrounding areas such as the jaw-dropping Victoria Falls, where you can bungee jump, zip-line and take on some awesome river-rafting during your downtime from working with the lions.

Royal Chendu, Zambia – Children’s Passport

I love stamps in my passport or in my National Park Passport. I have been known to get my kids a character passport at Disneyland to keep track of who they saw. So the program at the Royal Chendu in Zambia would have appealed to me as a kid.

All guests participating in the Chundu Children’s Club start by receiving a handheld “adventure passport” when they arrive at the lodge. Inside the passport are 12 stamps to collect for a series of exciting and cultural activities. Specific activities include learning to cook Nashima (a staple Zambian dish) by grinding corn and maize, collecting and learning about insects such as butterflies and spiders, all the way to a cosmic safari experience (just to name a few). Depending on the length of stay and availability, the young adventurer is paired with a River Guide who guides them through the different experiences. The activities are age-appropriate and not “dumbed down” in any sense-they are the child appropriate equivalent of everything the parents will be doing. The activities are free.

Travel Programs in the Caribbean

Abaco Beach Resort, Bahamas – Buddies and Pen Pals

Abaco Beach Resort at Boat Harbour in the Bahamas offers an interesting program to connect kids 5-12 will a local kid and TO send them home not only with memories of adventures but also with a pen pal.

From island hopping to snorkeling and experiencing the island’s natural beauty, Abaco Beach Resort has something for everyone. One unique experience for families is the resort’s “Bahama Buddies” program. This innovative children’s program is designed for children between the ages of 5 and 15-years-old and promotes a healthy, exchange-of-knowledge by building a relationship between Bahamian children and children of registered guests. Kids will be fully immersed in the island lifestyle through participation in such activities as:

  • How to catch, clean, and cook fish
  • Creating authentic island crafts
  • Island nature explorations
  • Demonstrations on how to debark and enjoy a coconut
  • Bahama Buddies t-shirt, souvenir, and photo CD
  • Bahama Buddies Email Exchange, allowing children to continue their friendships

Sleepaway Camps in the U.S.

Seaworld sleep away camp

Sleepaway at Seaworld

Seaworld theme parks offer both residential and day camp programs from kids as old as college-aged. 

Kids learn best when they are having fun and when they are engaged in activities that are meaningful (connected) to them personally. The mission of our summer camp programs has always been to help build those connections between youth and nature. We strive to answer some of the essential questions with the campers like what is this animal, where does it live, what does it do, why is it important, why should I care, and what can I do to help. We are inspiring the next generation of animal ambassadors and conservationists.

Activities include unique, significant up-close animal encounters which could include snorkeling in a cage with sharks, visiting with flamingos in their habitat, and going to visit behind-the-scenes at their rescue facilities. Campers are able to interact with cool animals like dolphins, stingrays, sharks, penguins and more. Campers have the opportunity to converse with a variety of animal specialists from their Rescue team members that take care of all of the sick or injured animals brought into the parks, to the animal trainers responsible for their shows, to the veterinarians responsible for the health and care of all of the animals.

They even offer Counselor in Training programs at several of the parks. Camps normally run for the traditional summertime from June through August but some of the parks offer custom programs for group camps at other times of the year.

Travel Programs in the U.S.


Tides Inn, Irvington, Virginia – Sailing School

They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.

Let’s face it. Some of us are drawn to the sea. For budding young sailors, the kids’ program at the Tides Inn in Irvington, Virginia might be the beginning of a lifelong love affair with the sea.

Located on a private peninsula off the Chesapeake Bay, he Tides Inn features a marina that kids are welcome to take advantage of. Offering sailing lessons around the creek and bay, the Premier Sailing School is the only resort school to offer US Sailing Certificate courses. Sailing activities for children include 5 day sailing camps, race training camps, and afternoon sailing birthday parties. Children can also take shorter courses of 2,3 or 4 day courses.

Westin Kierland Resort, Arizona – Digital Kids Club

Kids in the Kitchen, Pajama Parties and Arts, and Crafts are offered by the kids’ programs at The Westin Kierland in Scottsdale, Arizona but it is the Digital Kids Club that caught our attention. First, I am definitely changing my title to Chief Fun Officer. Second, how would you like to bring back a video game or stop motion video as the souvenir from your next vacation?

The FUN Team’s Chief FUN Officer has developed the Digital Kids Club program specifically for one of the most difficult age groups to capture, “tweens” – ages 8 through 14. The Digital Kids Club at The Westin Kierland Resort features individual sessions throughout the year, as well as unique 5-day digitally-based camps during the summer: Stop Motion Movie Making, Computer Video Game Design, Produce Your Own Morning Show, and Media Madness! Budding movie directors capture footage and experiment with special effects, video game enthusiasts learn about design and creation, inspired news anchors experience the world of reporting, and creative juices flow from learning animation and comic book design!

Day Camps in the U.S.

Youth Entrepreneur Camp in Wisconsin

Photo from Youth Entrepreneur Camp

Youth Entrepreneur Camp in Wisconsin

For children in the 6th, 7th and 8th grades, the Youth Entrepreneurship Camp in Madison, Wisconsin offers an exclusive opportunity to learn what it takes to run a successful small business. In a course that runs 35 hours over several days, students will get training from business owners in the form of classroom instruction, activities, and field trips, with the assistance of a first-rate computer lab.

Parents will be delighted to know that their children will learn relevant real-world skills that include team and leadership building, financial management, professional styles of communication, and proper business etiquette through the daily teachings and challenges provided by the educators on staff.

Perfect for the teenage entrepreneur in your family, the camp is held on the campus of the Wisconsin School of Business, so the children will also get a taste of their future life at college.

swim like a mermaid

Learn to Swim Like a Mermaid

Let me just say that when my mom wanted me to have swim lessons, I did not always appreciate it, but I understood why she did it. I can’t say I quite understand the next one.

At AquaMermaid you can learn to swim in a real mermaid tail and “feel like a beautiful mermaid”. Participants play games and learn monofin and synchronized swimming techniques, and mermaid tricks. AquaMermaid offers both 1-time trial classes, as well as weekly lessons in cities across North America. AquaMermaid lessons are for kids ages 7+.

Is this a thing?

What interesting programs have we missed?

This article was updated by Jordan Fuller in June 2019. Jordan is a passionate traveler who loves to has gone to more than 25 countries. When he is not traveling, his other passion is golf – a sport he’s been involved in for more than 20 years. He teaches everything he knows about the sport, including how to generate the perfect swing, on his website.

Share this:
Chris Christensen

by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast. He has been a travel creator since 2005 and has won awards including being named the "Best Independent Travel Journalist" by Travel+Leisure Magazine.

Leave a Reply

Tags: ,