When I was little, I vividly remember being on a boat in Hawaii. All around me, people were shouting, “whale, whale!” I was looking off in the distance, worried I would miss it, when all of a sudden what seemed like a giant pair of airplane wings appeared in the water below me. Everything slowed down as the walls of my imagination bent and then broke. She breached and I was frozen. I didn’t think I’d ever feel that magic in quite the same way again, until our trip to Cape Cod with IFAW.
As a grown-up (sort of), I founded a company called Kin Travel to design experiences and inspire activism in support of leading conservationists. I’ve learned that the most transformational solutions all have one thing in common: they create value in biodiversity which communities experience and feel empowered to protect. For IFAW, this couldn’t be truer.
IFAW’s Marine Mammal Rescue & Research team is unlike any other, pushing boundaries and advancing marine mammal rescue techniques around the world. Headquartered on Cape Cod (a hotspot for marine mammal strandings), the team rescues local marine mammals and shares its expertise with stranding networks to create a global hub of knowledge.
When I heard about IFAW’s incredible work, I knew I wanted to create a Kin Travel experience to embrace the team’s inspiration to create a better world for animals. Partnering with IFAW, we designed the Summer House — a weekend experience that combines adventure and a conservation masterclass on Cape Cod.
It all starts with the stage: Provincetown, Massachusetts. In all her glory, Provincetown is a place of maritime heritage and vibrant new-America. Next come the characters: a dedicated crew of adventurers who dive right into some of conservation’s biggest problems and develop new solutions. And lastly, the work: centered around animals and people, we learn about the ecological importance of whales, dolphins, and seals. We emphasize the impact of IFAW’s work and highlight ways that participants can create change in their own lives
We call it a “conservation masterclass” because of the level of access we deliver to leaders in the field. And we call it a “perfect summer weekend” because we blend meeting new friends on bike rides with candle-lit dinners and conversations with a drink in hand and toes in sand. After a few days of learning, the experience culminates when we embark on a research boat to find a mother whale and her family.
We set off on a morning so perfect it felt like we were a boat in a postcard. The lead naturalist told us that they hadn’t seen a humpback whale yet this season. He explained that whale watching was now more financially rewarding for the community than the fishing industry, so progress was being made and populations were starting to bounce back. We reached Stellwagen Bank and every inch of water was teeming with small fish. Then it came, “whale, ten o’clock, a whole family!” We lined up along the rail and ten humpbacks swirled around us. I saw tears from behind a camera shooting video and heard gasps of excitement from others. There was that magic again, just as I had felt as a child. Proof of progress for animals and people right in front of us.
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