To some people, “vacation” means sleeping in, seeing the sights, reading novels, enjoying an umbrella drink or two. Not to 69-year-old Ann Bowers.
“I like to do hands-on stuff,” said Bowers of Bellbrook, Ohio. “Taking a tour isn’t really my kind of thing—I’m not ready to do that.”
Instead, Bowers spent some time in Jackson taking part in Elderhostel (now known as Exploritas), a nonprofit organization offering a series of educational travel programs to promote lifelong learning. In Jackson, most programs are hosted by the Teton Science Schools. Bowers joined one of the organization’s service programs, which had her transplanting flora to create wetlands, tearing out fence lines to open rangeland for deer and banding migratory birds.
Relaxing? No. Exactly what she was looking for? Yes.
“I love the West and the outdoors and their whole approach of getting out and getting into it,” Bowers said.
The Teton Science Schools Jackson campus hosts about 15 week-long Elderhostel programs a year. Prices per program range from $598 to $990 per person, with the average cost for most programs being around $850. The price includes all meals, lodging, transportation during the program, experienced instructors and guides, and all activities during the week.
For Neil and Marcia Davis of Warren, Ohio—self-proclaimed Elderhostel veterans—it’s exactly that all-inclusive nature of the program that is such a draw.
“Elderhostel is a really safe way to go,” said Marcia Davis, 70, who has done everything—she’s hiked along the Grand Canyon, relocated swans and planted trees in Yellowstone National Park with Elderhostel. “They take care of everything. You pay ahead of time, you know what you’re getting into, and these people know how to get you there safely.”
For about 25 years, Teton Science Schools has offered a range of intergenerational, wildlife, heritage and community service programs featuring the area’s famed outdoors.