SOU offers classes for all ages

Southern Oregon University's Road Scholar program, formerly known as Elderhostel, is offering adventurous classes designed to bring different generations together.

Although adults of any age can take part, the Road Scholar classes are likely to attract grandparents who want to spend time with their grandchildren.

Compared to working parents, people who are retired or nearing retirement have more time to take part in the days-long classes, said Program Director Nichol Graham.

"Our intergenerational programs tend to do fairly well," she said. "People want to do things with their grandchildren. It's a real bonding experience."

Graham said Road Scholar — which has gone through a few name changes, including Elderhostel and Exploritas — has been offering intergenerational classes for at least a decade.

In the "Intergenerational World of Theater" class in Ashland, adults and kids will go behind the scenes at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. They will attend plays and learn about sets, costumes and even the secrets of staged fights and fake blood, according to class organizers.

Adults and kids stay on campus at SOU. However, participants who live in the Rogue Valley can stay at their own homes and attend the class at a cheaper rate.

The theater class runs July 18-23. Kids must be 11-13 years old.

"The Southern Oregon Outdoor Adventure: Rafting, Caving and Wild Creatures" class offers rafting on the Rogue River, explorations of the Oregon Caves National Monument, a visit to a wildlife park and overnight stays at a Grants Pass hotel as well as bed and breakfast cabins built in treetops.

Participants will ride a tree zip line and learn about river ecology, wildlife and conservation.

Graham said that people who live in Ashland or other areas in the Rogue Valley should stay at the hotel — which has a pool — and cabins so that kids can get the full experience. There are also early-morning activities.

The class is for active adults and kids ages 12-14. It runs July 25-30.

"A 'Boxcar Children' Adventure: Literature and Adventure Come to Life" takes place at the Rail Road Park Resort in Dunsmuir, Calif. The park has boxcars that were converted to look like hotel rooms, a pool and views of nearby Castle Crags State Park.

Participants will read from the "Boxcar Children" series of books. First published in the 1920s, the books describe the fictional adventures of four siblings who run away from an orphanage and live in an abandoned boxcar. They must figure out whether their grandfather is cruel or kind, and whether they should live with him.

Budding authors will write their own stories, hike, swim, pick berries, plan a shelter in the woods and ride a steam train.

One class is already underway, but the next boxcar adventure class runs July 12-16. Kids must be 6-8 years old.

SOU's Road Scholar program is most popular with tourists who are visiting Ashland, although it's also open to local residents, Graham said.

Locals are likely to be more familiar with Osher Lifelong Learning Institute classes, which are offered through SOU but are not connected with the Road Scholar program, Graham said.

Although both Road Scholar and OLLI have reputations for catering to older adults, there is actually no minimum age requirement for adults who want to take classes, according to Graham and the OLLI Web site.

For information and costs on upcoming Road Scholar programs, including intergenerational classes, visit or call 541-552-6378 or 1-800-257-0577.

For information on OLLI, visit or call 541-552-6048.

Staff writer Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or

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