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Quality Time for Grandparents, Kids

March 19, 2000|ARTHUR FROMMER

Grandparents vacationing with their grandchildren is a wonderful notion in theory--enriching the lives of both, creating cherished memories and imparting good values to the younger ones. The cost is the problem. Until recently, travel programs for that type of vacation have been expensive.

Enter Elderhostel. Long the best source of low-cost vacations for older people, the nonprofit organization has begun creating intergenerational programs for the young and old traveling together. These provide opportunities for grandparents and grandchildren (or aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews) to share a meaningful vacation.

As with all standard Elderhostel programs, the prices quoted here include accommodations, all meals and instruction; double rooms are usually shared by the grandparents and grandchildren on these programs. You're on your own for transportation to the site.

The senior member of the "intergenerational team" must be 55 or older, and some programs have age requirements for the junior partners.

Here are a few of Elderhostel's programs for this summer:

* Chicago: "Share Your Interest in Art With a Child," July 16 to 22. These are gallery talks on the history of world art at the Art Institute of Chicago. Content is geared to both hostelers and children, who will create journals and sketches based on the presentations. Program includes hands-on studio projects. Instruction is by Art Institute lecturing staff and members of the museum's education department. Price: $590 per person.

* Minnesota: At the University of Minnesota in Duluth, it's "Let's Talk Wolf," July 30 to Aug. 4. Participants will immerse themselves in the life of the gray wolf at the International Wolf Center. They will observe the resident wolf pack at the center as the animals eat, sleep and play in their enclosed habitat. Then they will learn how wolves communicate. They also study the ecology of the north woods. Elderhostelers share accommodations and most classes with the children, limited to ages 9 through 12, one child per adult. Children's fee is $380; adult's, $436.

* Virginia: "Fins, Fur, Feathers and Claws!" at the Virginia Living Museum near Williamsburg, July 30 to Aug. 4: Participants will touch native animals, collect 5-million-year-old fossils, discover secrets along the shore of Chesapeake Bay, visit a bald-cypress swamp and investigate the forest.

The program is suggested for the active hosteler and children 8 through 12, one child per adult. Children's room, board and tuition cost $450; adult's, $508.

* South Dakota: At "A Pioneer Adventure in the Black Hills" (July 2 to 7), participants will delve into the past at rustic Atlantic Mountain Ranch near the town of Custer. There they'll explore how pioneers traveled across the prairie. Participants will ride in a wagon to a replica of a fort, ride horses on trails and hike in the hills. They also will participate in such activities as cooking over an open fire, candle-making, blacksmithing, spinning and weaving, and building a log shelter. Biologists, forest rangers, geologists, historians and storytellers will acquaint the group with the natural and historic features of the area. The program is for hostelers and their grandchildren 10 to 15, one child per adult. Children's fee is $350; adult's is $453.

If you're interested in any of these programs, act quickly because they tend to sell out. Registration begins Friday, and it's first come, first served. Fax or e-mail a registration form before that date. If there is overflow registration, Elderhostel will conduct a random drawing among the applications.

For more information or a registration form, visit the Elderhostel Web site, http://www.elderhostel .org, or call (877) 426-8056.

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