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Summer School-a Mind Trip for Grown-Ups

March 18, 2001|ARTHUR FROMMER

What could be better for your next vacation than a week or two on a top-notch college campus? When their undergraduates have left for the warm-weather months, many colleges keep their doors (and dorms) open for adults wanting stimulation with their vacation.

* Colby College, Waterville, Maine: The least costly of the campus holidays I've found is at Colby, an hour's drive north of Portland, Maine. Colby's 714-acre campus-ranked second in the nation for "beautiful campus" by this year's Princeton Review-is a Maine Wildlife Management Area and includes the 128-acre Perkins Arboretum and Bird Sanctuary.

Colby invites adults (16 and older) to participate in a weeklong "Great Books" program Aug. 5 to 11. The $460 fee includes accommodation in single or double dorm rooms, all meals, discussions and books (shipped in advance). Classes meet in the mornings, and the focus this summer is on works by Cicero, Buber, Melville, Shakespeare, Emerson and Baudelaire under the theme "The Truth of Myth." In the afternoons and evenings, informal discussions occur during various recreations on campus-tennis, films, swimming and a Maine lobster bake-as well as boating, golf, music and theater nearby.

Children 4 to 15 can be accommodated at a reduced fee, and junior reading programs may be organized depending on the response.

For information, call Dan Kohn at (631) 727-8600, or send an e-mail to

* Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.: Though no other school approaches Colby's $460 bargain, a few offer programs in the $850 to $1,180 range for an all-inclusive week. At Cornell's "Adult University," college-style classes are offered in one-week sessions (July 8 through Aug. 4) for $920 to $1,005, depending on accommodation.

Classes run from morning until midafternoon and range from the traditional collegiate topics of history and literature to a more hobby-oriented array of outdoor sports, gardening, wine tasting and visual arts. The price includes all meals and access to university resources, not the least of which is the gorgeously landscaped 125-acre campus, set in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.

The university also offers children's programs at reduced rates ($350 to $510).

For information, call (607) 255-6260 or visit the Web site at

* St. John's College, Santa Fe, N.M.: A more demanding intellectual experience is this college's summer program, which offers a classical liberal education based on close reading of the great books of the Western tradition.

Its "Summer Classics 2001" program (July 15 to Aug. 4) ranges from profound works in history and philosophy to equally important tomes of fiction and opera librettos. Classes are seminar style, with never more than 17 students in each. A one-week session costs $1,180 for classes, books, meals and suite-style dorm rooms.

Information: telephone (505) 984-6104, Internet

* University of Toronto: Taking a page from St. John's of Santa Fe, the University of Toronto's St. John's College offers its own version of a great-books week starting July 15. Called "Classical Pursuits," it's a colloquium of readers who gather to discuss one of the classics. Among the choices: Homer's "Odyssey," the play and opera versions of "Othello" and Freud's "Civilization and Its Discontents."

Mornings are spent in discussion, and afternoons and evenings are devoted to gallery visits, theater performances, lectures and wine tasting.

The cost: $1,000 Canadian ($654 U.S.) for breakfasts and lunches, classes, books, registration and activities. Add to that $29 to $42 (U.S.) per night for a single or double dorm room.


* Smith College, Northampton, Mass.: For a change of pace that exercises the body, if not the mind, Smith offers a summertime Adult Sports and Fitness Camp. This "vacation with a purpose" has a 21-year tradition of promoting active and healthy lifestyles through one week (June 10 to 16) of instruction in more than a dozen sports, as well as sports medicine and fitness evaluations.

The price is $850, which includes lodging, meals, instruction and even massages.

For more information, call Michele Finley, (413) 585-3970, or visit the Web site at

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