By Chris Clemens
Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa’s Westin Desert Rangers Program was created for children to have a unique experience during their stay at the resort, learning about desert area wildlife and habitats while also making a special off-property visit to The Living Desert.
Children ages 5 through 12 can become a Desert Ranger for the day exploring the desert wildlife around the resort prior to departing to The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. Participants receive their own ranger outfit and have the opportunity to interact with the resort’s resident wildlife including an African spurred tortoise, Giant Flemish rabbits, reptiles and amphibians, and koi fish.
While exploring indigenous plants and foliage to the desert around the property, rangers will learn about different types of palm trees including the Queen Palm, Dwarf Palmettos and the Date Palm. In addition, the rangers will also create healthy and delicious smoothies with flavorful herbs from the chef’s garden, and fresh citrus such as tangerines and grapefruits which are found growing on trees throughout the resort. Children can make a strawberry, blueberries and mint flavored smoothie or a tangerine grapefruit smoothie, the possibilities are endless and children and encouraged to be creative.
Upon completing the resort exploration, the Rangers are taken via Westin’s Shuttle Bus for a special visit to The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. This AZA-accredited zoo and gardens is dedicated to conservation and education. The zoo is home to wildlife from Africa, Asia, Australia and North America. Residents include camels, giraffes, jaguars, leopards, bighorn sheep and more. As a group the Rangers will be given a tour of the grounds to see the varied wildlife situated in a desert garden setting. (For more about The Living Desert visit www.livingdesert.org.)
Westin Desert Rangers takes place every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and costs $75 per child which includes lunch and admission to The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. Reservations can be made by calling the resort’s Sun Shop at Las Brisas at (760) 328.5955, ext. 2297. There is a limit of 8 children per day. Reservations must be made at least 12 hours in advance.