Budget Friendly Learning Vacations
By Candyce H. Stapen
Creative play isn’t just for toddlers. Learning vacations allow you to try something you’ve always wanted to do, including delve into a topic alongside experts. After these vacations you come away not only refreshed, but enriched. A bonus: these trips are modestly priced.
Train to be an astronaut.
Admit it. Ever since you stopped protesting the Vietnam War long enough to watch a man land on the moon, you’ve wanted to explore the cosmos. At the U.S Space and Rocket Center, Huntsville, AL, train to be an astronaut. On the 6-day program or the 3-day parent and child program, spin in a multi-axis trainer to simulate tumbling weightless as well as plan and execute a shuttle mission.
Dig into archeology
Side by side with archeologists, you dig into New Mexico’s ancient history. Work in the laboratory at the Crow Canyon Archeological Center as well as on a real excavation. Piece together artifacts that help solve the mystery of why the Anasazi, Native Americans, disappeared from the Mesa Verde region around 1280. The six-day program includes a trip to nearby Mesa Verde National Park. Summer camps for teens are also available.
Learn Appalachian and other folk arts
The mountain magic at the Augusta Heritage Center at the Davis and Elkins College, Elkins, WVA, includes fiddle and dulcimer playing, storytelling, Cajun cooking, pottery making, beadwork crafts and lots more. Each of five one-week sessions focuses on a different topic. During Blues Week, practice the bass fiddle, tune up your harmonica, try swing dancing and twig chair making. Irish week offers classes in flute, guitar, Gaelic, step dancing, flat footing and clogging. Bet nobody else on your block can clog.
Go back to school—your way
With Cornell’s Adult University, enroll in your favorite elective—the one your college never offered or you couldn’t squeeze into your business/poly sci/pre-med work load. For years Cornell’s Adult University has been offering week-long intensive programs during the summer. The subjects include photography, landscape design, cooking, natural history, casino gambling, sailing and lots more. Plus, if you want, live in a dorm again. This time they are co-ed.
Travel and Learn
Elderhostel. Okay, the name stinks, but the programs are good and the fees for these
journeys are often less than those for similar trips. Why? Elderhostel is a not-for-profit and the lodgings they book tend to be serviceable college dorms and two or three star clean, but not fussy hotels.
Anyone 55 and older is eligible. The company offers domestic programs and international trips.