Experiencing Elderhostel as Lifelong Learners

By Hopp, Robert | JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, April 1998 | Go to article overview

Experiencing Elderhostel as Lifelong Learners


Hopp, Robert, JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance


This is the conclusion of a three-part feature on leisure and lifelong learning. In the February issue, after an introduction by feature editors Randy Swedburg and Lisa Ostiguy, R. D. MacNeil gave a conceptual overview of leisure, lifelong learning, and the older adult.

In the March issue, Nancy Arsenault and Gary Anderson presented an article on "New Learning Horizons for Older Adults," and N. Linnehan and C. Naturale discussed "The Joy of Learning in Retirement."

For Ralph and Joann Hopp, Elderhostel represents the ideal opportunity to further their postretirement learning and travel across North America. Since 1991, when Ralph retired from a 40-year medical practice, the couple has taken advantage of the Elderhostel experience to visit different states, provinces, and cities; learn more about a wide variety of topics; and continue their close relationships with family members, who are spread across the United States and Canada.

The hundreds of thousands of "Elderhostel alumni" reflect a positive, motivated, participatory attitude that directly refutes North America's attitude of "used-up elderly." Elderhostel is an inexpensive, uncomplicated, and highly accessible experience, promising interaction with peers and interesting travel opportunities. The programs are usually affiliated with universities, relying on them for residence hall and cafeteria space, as well as instructors for some of their classes. Examples of the Hopps' diverse Elderhostel learning experiences include:

* An exploration of Italian cuisine and culture, including language, history, and music, at Saint Mary of the Woods College in Indiana.

* A chance to learn about the history and people of Quebec and Montreal, with an emphasis on architecture and the international nature of the city, at Concordia University in Montreal.

* Investigating and researching their family histories by using libraries and other written resources in genealogy. This topic was covered at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

* A discovery of the natural world by conducting marine research in the Louisiana wetlands and watching elk in Colorado, manatees in Florida, and wildlife in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona. …

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