Families today lead incredibly hectic lives. Children’s schedules are filled with academic and social pursuits, parents are working and parenting full-time and grandparents often live far away and have busy lives of their own. As a result, it becomes increasingly difficult for all of the generations to come together to catch up, share stories and build lifelong memories.

This summer, multiple generations of the Shostak family decided to re-connect on a Road Scholar program in Yellowstone National Park to celebrate Janet and John’s (nicknamed Jack) birthdays.

Janet, 71, is a retired elementary school teacher; her husband Jack, 74, is a part-time pharmacist. They are long-time residents of Fairfield, Connecticut, having raised two children who are now married with children of their own. They are also long time Road Scholars, having attended 17 learning adventures in the United States.

“We’ve always enjoyed our Road Scholar programs as a couple, but a few years ago we learned about intergenerational programs and got so excited,” said Janet. Our two grandsons were the perfect age for an intergenerational program in Chattanooga that explored trains. None of us had ever visited Tennessee so it was the perfect learning adventure for all of us.”

After taking the grandsons to Chattanooga, the Shostak’s took their granddaughters Sophia and Phoebe on a Road Scholar learning adventure to Sharpsburg, Maryland, to explore the world at the Heifer International Global Village.

“All of the intergenerational programs were birthday presents for the grandchildren,” said Janet. “For years, we’ve wanted to find a unique way to celebrate our 70th birthdays and decided that a family trip to Yellowstone offered everything we were looking for – a beautiful setting, interesting activities and lots of bonding time for our family.”

Educational Adventure in Yellowstone National Park with Road Scholar - 2

Janet’s son Jack, 47, and his wife Lakin, 46, had visited the Yellowstone National Park in the past and wanted to share its splendor with their three children. Lakin, a Physician’s Assistant, learned about Road Scholar years ago because her grandparents, currently in their 90s, attended programs when they were younger. When she learned that her in-laws were also Road Scholars and wanted to take her two sons, Jackson and Will, on a road trip to Chattanooga, she knew they were in for an adventure and would also learn something along the way.

“Like most parents, I was a little apprehensive about the boys being away, especially given the long drive from Connecticut – I’m not sure Janet and Jack knew what they were getting into!” Lakin laughed. “But they were in good hands. And knowing that both my grandparents and my in-laws had such wonderful experiences with Road Scholar certainly made it easier to let them go.”

Lakin had never traveled with a group before and had very high expectations for her first Road Scholar program this summer to Yellowstone. She said it far exceeded her expectations.

“I thought I knew a lot about the area but the two Road Scholar instructors were incredible and I learned even more about the terrain and history of the Park,” said Lakin. “The instructors never tired of answering our questions and it was wonderful spending time together as a family as well as meeting and developing relationships with the other families on the program.”

Yellowstone was also the first Road Scholar program for Janet and Jack’s daughter Laura. Laura, 46, lives in Rochester, New York with her husband Mark and daughter Sophia.

“Over the Christmas break when the entire family was together, my mom taped a map to the wall and presented the family with the Road Scholar trip to Yellowstone,” said Laura. “The children were overjoyed. The most challenging part was getting everyone’s schedule in synch. But once we picked a date, Road Scholar took care of the rest.”

Janet, Laura, and Laura’s daughter Sophia, 10, all agree that the horseback riding was a highlight of the trip.

“There were so many highlights that it’s hard to choose just one,” said Sophia. “It was my first time horseback riding, and it was fun to see all the wildlife, see Old Faithful erupt and play ultimate Frisbee in the rain with the other kids. I was never bored, and the instructors keep you active and make learning fun. I love this Road Scholar program and I think other people will too.”

Janet is thrilled that her family was able to get together this summer to share such a rich learning experience, as well as meet other families also eager to learn and have fun at the same time. She and Jack look forward to their next adventure with Road Scholar, whether it’s as a couple, with the grandkids, or with the entire family.

“Road Scholar offers dozens of family and intergenerational programs to give families like the Shostaks the chance to share their love of learning and nature in some of the most beautiful National Parks and monuments in the country,” said James Moses, President and CEO of Road Scholar. “As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of our National Parks, we encourage everyone to visit Yellowstone, Yosemite Zion National Park, or any of our nation’s other incredible landmarks in 2016 with Road Scholar.”

The Shostak family attended Road Scholar’s Yellowstone’s Great Outdoor Adventures for Families program in the summer of 2015. To learn more, please click here. To learn more about the intergenerational programs they shared with their grandchildren, please visit Explore the World: An International Adventure at Heifer Global Village, and Chattanooga for Grands: From Trains and Mountains to an Aquarium Sleepover.

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