Since 2004, the Fresh Air Fund, Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, and Cayman Airways have partnered to provide a group of inner-city children the trip of a lifetime to the Cayman Islands. The partnership commemorated the launch of Cayman Airways’s direct service flight to New York, but has grown to mean so much more for all parties involved. It is the chance to give kids an opportunity to experience new things outside of New York City. The most meaningful aspect of the program is the local families who open their homes--and hearts--to host the children during their stay. The families touched by this program are often humbled by the FAF kids’ experiences, and lifelong friendships are often made between the FAF kids and the host-family kids.
Each year, the FAF kids experience Caymanian culture and heritage through a wide variety of activities and attractions. This year, the trip took place in July, and the kids visited Hell, named after its black, jagged limestone-rock formation; Boatswain’s Beach, home of the Cayman Turtle Farm; Pedro St. James, the birthplace of democracy in the Cayman Islands; and the popular Stingray City. They toured the beautiful gardens at the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, learned about the Blue Iguana Recovery Program, became Ambassadors of the Environment with the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, took a submarine tour with Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants, dug archeological finds at the Bodden Town Mission House, and visited the Cayman Motor Museum, home to the original Batmobile. They particularly enjoyed the helicopter tour of Seven Mile Beach and the George Town harbor. Of course, snorkeling and swimming was a favorite among all as well!
Summer's not over yet, and if you can't make it to the Cayman Islands, you can still encourage your kids to have an active summer. Here's how:
10. Go to the beach: The beach can be the best source of exercise. Whether you’re swimming, playing beach volleyball, throwing a Frisbee, building a sandcastle, or just taking a leisurely stroll, it’s easy for the whole family to get active.
9. Go for a bike ride: Get on your helmets, jump on your bikes, and take the kids for a ride around the neighborhood. It’s a good opportunity to teach your kids about road safety as well.
8. Kick (or throw) some ball: Soccer and football are the perfect means to teach your kids about teamwork and to get all of the muscles in your body moving.
7. Kayak: Pair up the kids and adults and have a kayak race. Kayaking effectively works your upper-body muscles and is a great way to get out on the water without getting wet.
6. Walk a dog: Take the dogs for a stroll at the park or around the neighborhood. If you don’t have a dog, become a volunteer dog-walker with the local Humane Society. In addition to the exercise, this is a great family activity to teach your kids responsibility.
5. Keep children busy and get involved: Teach them how to swim, go hiking, play field games, make s'mores, etc.
4. Expose kids to new activities: It can be as simple as a book they've never read or a trip to an island they've never explored!
3. Explore the outside world around you, wherever that may be.
2. Meet new people and make new friends: They can help introduce your family to a whole new world outside.
1. Get out of the city and enjoy the fresh air!
--Shomari Scott (Cayman Islands Tourism) and Liz Clardy (Fresh Air Fund)