Summer 2019 is just around the corner and parents are scrambling for activities for their children to do. I am so bored is a natural response from children after being out of school for several weeks with nothing to do.

Many of our children nowadays have gotten away from using their imagination because they have their iPhones, iPads, video games or some such electronic device.

Admit it folks, our American-Caribbean children are very much a part of the push button and entertain-me generation as well. And when you take them on vacation without these devices, at first it feels like the end of the world to them.

It is refreshing to learn that some parents are sending or taking their children back home for the cultural experience of their life.

Many Caribbean-born parents who have taken their children to connect with the families back home have really enriched their lives by giving them a sense of pride and belonging. Their video games are no competition for this first-hand experience. Parents can take their children so that they can explore the botanical gardens in their hometowns and be exposed to indigenous flora and fauna (which is like nothing that they have seen at home).

The kids can tag along with family members who are going to cow-bush. Cow-bush is where the cows, pigs and goats are taken to graze in the family pastures or by the local river side. They can learn how to gather fresh eggs from the fowl (hen) coops. All of this is like taking a field trip but for several weeks, a real life science class.

When Sheila Banks returned home to Jamaica and took her children for the first time, it was a moment she will never forget.

“They went crazy,” she said. “Their shoes came off, they climbed the trees, picked mangos, ran on the beaches and collected crabs and sea shells, played with the goats, jumped in the river, walked in the rain and jumped in the mud puddles. Every day they would disappear under the hot Caribbean sun, running off to explore and do new things with their cousins.

“I felt extremely thankful that I could give this opportunity to my children,” she added, “and I encourage others to take their kids back home too.”

A number of resorts in the Caribbean are developing programs where kids can participate in hands-on steel drum lessons or even try their hand at learning woodcarving from a master carver.

How about accompanying the chef to gather vegetables from their outdoor garden and learning how to cook a meal using local produce? For those who have relatives with farms in the rural areas, or fishing boats on the beach, your child can harvest the food or catch the fish and learn how to cook on an outdoor pit fire, a very valuable skill to have.

If keeping the expenses down is critical to your vacation planning, then make arrangements to stay with your relatives or if you want to stay at a hotel, find out if they offer all-inclusive packages for families. It includes all food and activities and sometimes even a tour guide. Find one of those tours where families can raft down one of the many rivers and be given a history lesson by the rafting guide who knows the history of the towns on the bank of the river and all about the animal and plant life in the waters.

Another event to consider is snorkeling in the crystal clear blue waters of the Caribbean sea where the kids can touch colorful tropical fish and coral.

It is a definite advantage to let your children explore the world around them. A website called “Kids Matter” confirms that children who experience diversity develop a sense of belonging to their community and social connection to others. Experiencing their parents’ culture, gives them a better sense of self and they are less likely to experience feelings of depression and anxiety.

If you are considering taking your kids to the Caribbean for the summer, just do it! Take the trip and you could be bringing back a well-rounded child who is ready to start the school year head-on with a lot of new knowledge.

You’ll be glad that you did it.

Contact Johann Calhoun at newseditor@phillytrib.com or call at (215) 893-5739

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