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Travel Education : Elderhostel programs offer older adults a chance to get away and try something different.

March 26, 1992|ROBYN LOEWENTHAL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Once again it is time to consider attending Elderhostel. And whether you enjoy gemstones, ghosts or the Channel Islands, the new Elderhostel sessions held in the county provide an educational adventure for older adults who want to try something different.

If you are a senior still unfamiliar with this nonprofit educational organization, here is the lowdown. Elderhostel Inc. was established in 1975 by a retired university professor. It's an inexpensive, international travel-based education program designed for active learners age 60 and older. But if you attend as a couple, your spouse or companion only has to be 50 to be eligible.

Seniors enjoy the courses because there are no educational prerequisites, reading assignments, homework or tests. Instead, the program emphasizes lectures and peer interaction.

Each day during the one-week sessions participants attend three 90-minute college-level classes but do not earn college credit. There are also field trips and guest speakers. But ample opportunity is given to explore the vicinity and use available recreational facilities.

Depending on the type and location of the course, you might live and study on a college campus. Or you might reside in a recreational vehicle in the desert while studying geology and American Indian cultures.

Either way, an Elderhostel learning vacation is a way to visit a new area alone. And it's a bargain. The average cost of a one-week program in the United States including tuition, lodging, meals, use of recreational facilities, all classes and many extracurricular activities is $245 per person. Sessions in Ventura County average $290 to $340. Local residents can often attend for a lower rate, which includes lunches. Also, scholarships or "hostelships" are available on the basis of financial need.

Local Elderhostel programs:

* Ventura Community College, (805) 654-6459. Housing and classrooms are in the Holiday Inn, Ventura. The program fee of $340 per person for the one-week stay includes accommodations, meals and classes. There is a separate charge for some field trips. The following is a sample of topics that will be offered in various combinations during weeklong sessions held almost continuously year-round beginning April 5.

"Granite to Gemstones: A Look at Earth and Her Treasures," "The Channel Islands: American Galapagos," "What Price Entertainment? Mass Media and American Life," "The Lifestyle Rebellion," "Ghosts of the Gold Coast," "The Crisis of Heroism," "From Cylinder to the Synthesizer: 100 Years of Popular Song," "The California Dream: Quest for Paradise," "Dangerous Years: The Eisenhower Era," "Japan Today," "The Secrets of Memory Power," "Vive la France!" and "Ventura-by-the-Sea: An Exploration."

* Cal Lutheran University, (805) 493-3236. During the two sessions available, residents live on campus in dormitory suites. The program cost of $290 per person for a one-week course includes room, board and classes. Some field trips may require an additional charge.

Topics: June 7-13, "New Milestones in Paleontology," "When Swing Was King: American Popular Music from 1935-1945" and "Sense in Nonsense: The Wisdom of Wit."

June 14-20, "The Reagan Years" substitutes for "Sense in Nonsense."

Seniors over 55 can receive free assistance from trained volunteers to prepare their state and federal tax forms. People with disabilities, individuals who earn less than $25,000 annually, and couples who together earn less than $32,000 also qualify for the service.

The services are available on a walk-in basis or by appointment at several sites around Ventura County. For sites near you, call your local senior center. For information about property tax deferrals or partial refunds due to age, low-income or disability, call the California Franchise Tax Board 1-800-952-5661.

* The fifth Women's Financial Information Program, designed to enable midlife and older women to make informed decisions about their finances, will begin Tuesday at 3 p.m. and continue for seven weeks. The program, sponsored by the American Assn. of Retired Persons and Oxnard College, focuses on the needs of divorced, separated or widowed women who have had little or no work experience outside the home. A fee of $15 covers the cost of programs and workbook materials.

To enroll, send name and check, payable to Oxnard College Community Services, to Community Services/AARP, 4000 Rose Ave., Oxnard, CA. 93030. For information, call the Oxnard College Women's Re-entry Program office, (805) 986-5833.

* FYI

Elderhostel catalogues listing international courses and those across the United States are available at the reference desks of public libraries in the county. To register for courses, seniors should write Elderhostel Inc., 75 Federal St., Boston MA 02110-1941. Local phone numbers are for information only.

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