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Youth Group Adventures in the Carolinas

The Carolinas have an abundance of great attractions and activities for youth and student travelers. Consider the following science, history and nature experiences for your young groups visiting the area.


Ripley’s Aquarium

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

If your travelers want to see a shark up close, snorkel with a stingray or hold a horseshoe crab, Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach is the place to go.

Visitors of all ages enjoy riding on a 330-foot gliding pathway that travels through an underwater tunnel. You can see thousands of different species of fish through the glass tunnel and even a sea turtle named Gabby.

Jessica Mula, the marketing coordinator for Ripley’s Aquarium, said there are lots of options for kids, including classroom presentations. The newest exhibit, called “Swarm,” depicts how animals create a school together, or a “swarm effect,” for their protection. Kids also love the live mermaid shows, holding small sharks and seeing the fish up close.

Mula said a favorite activity is a hands-on experience with garra rufa, also known as doctor fish, that lightly nibble the skin.

“Teachers literally have to pull kids away from the tank,” Mula said. “[The kids] like to compete to see who can get the most fish.”

She hopes the experience not only entertains visitors but also helps teach them about the ocean and the animals that live there.


Charleston Pirate Tours

Charleston, South Carolina

When you think of Charleston, you might imagine the ocean, cobblestone streets and large mansions. Husband and wife team Eric and Sabrina Lavender imagine pirates.

The Lavenders own Charleston Pirate Tours, which introduces visitors to the “Golden Age” of piracy on the Carolina Coast.

“There is an endless list of pirates who had a connection with Charleston,” said Sabrina Lavender. “Originally, pirates were not a problem. They were a help  —  we did a lot of trading with them, and they brought money into the city.”

The Lavenders’ guided tours of Charleston dive deep into the city’s rich history with pirates at the forefront. The tours discuss piracy’s impact on Charleston during the Colonial period and share stories of the famous Blackbeard, Anne Bonny and Calico Jack. Eric Lavender dresses in authentic pirate attire and even sports a real parrot, Captain Bob.

The original walking tour begins at the Powder Magazine Museum, one of the oldest buildings still intact in town, and continues through Charleston for three-quarters of a mile. Visitors see important buildings and hear about events that shaped the city. Ghost tours are also available several evenings a week.

The company also offers private tours for school groups of all ages, as well as corporate groups, that can be customized to emphasize Charleston and the Civil War, the American Revolution or the Colonial period.

Sabrina Lavender said they love to spark a new interest for Charleston and its pirates in their visitors.

“We have teachers who call us a year after a tour, and their students are still talking about pirates,” she said.