Rafting along the Colorado River through the immense wonders of the Grand Canyon. Watching as the Old Faithful Geyser sprays its water column 150 feet above ground. Creating a blown-glass ornament with the help of professional artisans in a town known for its glass history. Sound like incredible experiences? That’s because they are — and they were made even more enjoyable for Road Scholars Nathan and Ellen Streitman when they shared them with eight of their nine grandchildren on Road Scholar learning adventures!

Discovering Road Scholar

Nathan and Ellen discovered Road Scholar in 1998 as Nathan retired from his career as an architect and city planner, and Ellen was approaching her retirement from her role a special education teacher. Both had loved traveling and learning together throughout their marriage. “It was an important part of our life which we tried to do when we could,” says Nathan. They read about Road Scholar and were interested in the breadth of programming that was offered by the organization. “We felt that Road Scholar programs were a great way to get out and see some of the countryside at a reasonable cost,” explains Nathan.

Bringing the Grandkids Along

After they enjoyed several Road Scholar learning adventures on their own — including a journey into the Blue Ridge Mountains, music programs dedicated to the genius of Franz Schubert and Ludwig van Beethoven and a hiking and rappelling adventure in Marble Canyon in Arizona— they knew that they wanted to share the joys of travel and discovery with their family. They decided that as soon as each grandchild was old enough, they could pick a trip from the Road Scholar catalog and join their grandparents on a learning adventure.

“We wanted to do things with our grandkids and give them some experiences in places in the U.S. that would be interesting for them,” says Nathan. “It was fascinating to see them interact with other kids on the programs and share these experiences together.”

Navigating the Grand Canyon

On their first Grandparent program, they brought along their two oldest grandkids — Matt and Arielle — for an exciting exploration of the Grand Canyon. Together they rafted along the Colorado River and even took a helicopter ride to the top of the canyon. Horseback riding and getting to know other grandkids and their grandparents made this adventure truly one of a kind!

Sharing the Wonders of Yellowstone

Nathan and Ellen then took a larger group of grandkids on their next Road Scholar trip — this time to Yellowstone National Park. Four grandkids, including David, Rachel, Samantha and Arielle (who got to attend her second program) watched in awe as the Old Faithful Geyser sprayed its water 150 feet into the air, explored the national park and Crater of the Moon Site and admired the historic Yellowstone Inn.

Having a (Glass) Ball in New York’s Seven Lakes Region

Their final Grandparent program shared the beauty of New York’s Seven Lakes region with three of their granddaughters, Lexie, Stephanie and Jessica. Here, they enjoyed a week of summer fun and games, including time at the Corning Glass Museum where they were able to blow their own colored glass ball ornament. They marveled in the beauty of Watkins Glen State Park (a “miniature Grand Canyon experience,” says Nathan.) They added extra time as a family to explore nearby Niagara Falls, a truly remarkable end for a memorable trip.

Memories That Last a Lifetime

While their grandkids are now grown up, Nathan and Ellen are grateful to have shared these experiences with them. “Getting to meet and learn from so many superb instructors and local artisans added immeasurably to our experiences. Memories of our Road Scholar programs will be treasured through the years as our grandkids recall the experiences they enjoyed on their programs.”

If you’re thinking of bringing your grandkids along for the adventure of a lifetime, learn more about Road Scholar’s Grandparent programs!

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