Seventy-four-year-old Vicki Balogh is passionate about Yellowstone National Park. “I worked in Yellowstone in 1962 when I was in college, and I just fell in love with it.” When Vicki became a grandmother, she knew she wanted to share this magical place with her grandchildren. Over the past seven years, Vicki has traveled to Yellowstone with nine of her ten grandchildren on a Grandparent Adventure with Road Scholar. “Road Scholar programs make really special memories,” says Vicki. “Some of my grandchildren are now in college, and they still talk about it. Yellowstone was a special memory for me, and now it’s become a great memory for them, too.” Read on to find out more about Vicki’s Road Scholar adventures with her grandchildren in Yellowstone!
Why is it important for you to share your love of learning with your grandchildren?
Being in Birmingham, Alabama, we’re in pretty close proximity to white sand beaches. So most people take their kids or grandkids to the beach on school vacations. I wanted to show my grandchildren that there’s a big world out there beyond the beach.
Why did you choose Road Scholar?
I heard about Road Scholar a long time ago from one of my friends. I’m a widow, but I love to travel. My friend suggested Road Scholar because I could feel more comfortable traveling as a single, so I got on the internet, looked through the programs and found one I liked!
What was your experience like as a solo traveler?
I have also traveled on two adult programs without my grandchildren. Even though I was a single, I really felt like a part of the group. It’s a great way to travel whether you’re by yourself or with a couple.
What keeps you coming back to the same program for each grandchild?
I was just so impressed that everything was taken care of. Once you get there, you are in their hands. You don’t have to worry about where you eat or the kids or anything. They keep the kids busy, too. You’ve got kids between 8 and 12, and there are activities that keep them busy, interested and engaged.And then I saw the most wonderful thing—that these kids actually learn something. The group leaders would talk about the different volcanic rocks in Yellowstone. By the end of the week, you could ask a question of the kids, and they knew all the answers. The greatest joy for me was watching them get excited about learning something, too.
What is your favorite part of the itinerary?
My favorite part of the trip was trying kayaking. I had never done it before and neither had any of the kids. We all had a little reservation, but we were so excited. We kayaked to an island and had lunch, and the kids ran around the beach. It was a wonderful day.
What keeps the experience fresh enough to keep you engaged each time you go on it?
I’m 74 years old, and I learn something new every day. When you listen to the instructors, you learn something new each time. Denise and Andrea are wonderful Group Leaders. You can tell they’re not reading from a script. They love what they’re talking about, and that transfers. If you like to learn, you’ll like Road Scholar.
Tell me more about Denise – what is it about her that makes her a great Group Leader?
She loves her subjects. She has the wonderful ability to engage the children, and they really respected her and listened to her. Not only was she teaching them, she was also a story teller. She could make a story last the entire bus trip, and we were at our destination before knew it! You could tell she loved what she was talking about, and the children loved the stories, too.
Why do you choose Road Scholar rather than going with your grandchildren on your own?
I think the cost is relatively good compared to other companies, and I like the fact that you’re with a group. We always have good groups that mesh well together. It gave me joy to see my grandchildren out in the world for their first time without a sibling. It was good to see how easily they made friends and bonded. Some of them still keep in touch with other kids they met on programs.
What kind of impact have these experiences had on you?
They enabled me to have special bonding time with my grandkids. Most of the time I’m picking them up from carpool and things like that, and I just have little snatches of time with them. Road Scholar trips enable you to have a whole week together, with a lot of time just for the two of you.
What’s next for your travels?
I do have one more grandchild who is five years old, and I hope one day to be able to take her. Until then, I’ll travel with friends. A friend of mine and I are talking about doing going on a Santa Fe program next.
Want to learn more about Road Scholar’s Grandparent Adventure in Yellowstone National Park and beyond? Visit https://www.roadscholar.org/grandparent.
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