Published on July 23rd, 2013 | by Charu Suri
2 This Travel Company is Changing the Way Kids Look at the World
For Angela Riggs, founder of PEDAdventures and former Dean of Early Childhood Education at Sullivan University, Kentucky, traveling is a no brainer.
As an educator, Riggs is committed to realizing a child’s full potential through a combination of classroom and hands-on learning experiences. “I’ve seen such transformation on how children learn and develop when they travel,” she says. Riggs offers bespoke educational trips for children of all ages through her company, and works with parents on a one-on-one basis to create itineraries that are specific to their interests, skill level, and educational goals.
She remembers a recent trip with a 10-year-old whom she took to the Grand Canyon: they did everything from rock climbing to visiting an Indian Reservation, and the itinerary took care to weave in studies from the student’s entire school year into his outdoor excursion. There were four full days of hikes and walks, and some days included waking up at 6:00 am and facing a day jam-packed with cultural activities.
“It’s amazing how much culture you can absorb,” she says. The idea of using all your senses from taste to touch, to learning about rituals, local flora and fauna, economics, money, historical sites and landmarks all leave a lasting impression on an adult, but that impression on a child is even more powerful because it can set a strong foundation for how she or he learns and approaches life.
Swimming with dolphins in Miami
Riggs says she designs trips mostly on a one-on-one basis, and the parents can come if they want to. By combining fun ways to use mathematics on an applied level, to word games, she looks at travel truly as an exciting way to open the mind theater of a child to the bigger picture. “When parents approach me to design a trip, I ask them the initial questions and take into account budgets and time,” she says. Riggs then designs the trip and sends it to the parent for approval. There’s no limit to the creativity and type of activity they can do. In November she took a little girl on an animal adventure to the Grand Cayman Islands; she’s done sting ray adventures in Mexico too.
For over 20 years, Riggs has done prep work for her company by taking her daughter with her on adventures around the world. “From when she was seven years old, Christmas presents stopped arriving in the form of gifts when she figured out that Santa Claus was just me,” she jokes. “So I started getting her educational trips as gifts.” Riggs admits that as an educator, she has seen how much travel can play a role in the child’s overall development but that doesn’t mean that travel as education is necessarily a newish phenomenon. “We’re just more aware of it now,” she says. Back in the day, families would take kids on road trips, but with the arrival social media, it’s just that more transparent.
Traveling to the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee/North Carolina
“Children learn best with activities and experiences,” she says. “The ability for them to retain knowledge (through experiential learning) is far greater.” A trip is not done when the return trip boarding pass is scanned, however. Riggs creates scrapbooks and other digital memories so the kids and parents can relive the experience.
In this economic climate, there should not be any pressure to pursue terribly expensive or exotic trips just to keep up with the Joneses, she advises. Any form of travel and interaction can contribute to independent learning and a solid knowledge base.
“I’ve found that children who have traveled more are more independent, more culturally aware and more tolerant,” she says, based on her experiences as a career educator.
“It’s not about a trip to Hawaii; it’s about being creative with the resources you have.”
PEDAdventures creates bespoke educational itineraries for both families and children on an individual basis. At present, it does not do group trips. Riggs can accommodate any request from a deeper delve into Disney to swimming with the manatees. To contact her, email ped@pedadventures or call 502 445 3134, or visit pedadventures.com