Friday, May 13, 2016

Gayle Schlenker Shares the Ship with her Grandsons

Gayle's grandson Jude admires the view from on deck. 
Last year, Gayle Schlenker of Arlington, Virginia, posted this review on the Road Scholar website about her Intergenerational Voyage aboard Adventuress: “This was the best vacation we have ever had with our grandchildren… It could not have been more wonderful.” She recently spoke in greater detail about the experience, sharing stories and favorite memories from the trip that she took with her husband, Henry, and her grandsons Emory and Jude. 

Gayle had traveled with Emory and Jude on a different Road Scholar trip several years before, and she was attracted to the idea of doing it again: “I really like the idea of grandparents traveling with grandchildren. It’s much more intensive. It creates a stronger bond to spend special time together without parents.” 

Gayle climbs in the rigging.
Says Gayle, “For all of us, our favorite memory was climbing in the rigging. We all did it. We all cheered for each other. And the crew was so sweet and supportive, they cheered for our cheering. I was the only grandma who made it to the top.” Although this was the standout moment for Gayle and her family, she shared a list of other highlights that read like a short poem dedicated to the small, varied joys of life aboard: “Anchor Watch, seeing the sun rise, seeing a little otter, just being on the water, learning about what needs to be done to protect Puget Sound.” 

Gayle also had a lot to say about the crew, and about their skill as educators: “The crew were fantastic. If there was any problem, they were there to fix it. And they were so good at teaching. We learned about plankton, about navigation. We learned all about what it takes to run a boat. Even washing dishes and swabbing the deck felt meaningful.” 

Grandson Emory relaxes in the bowsprit
with other from his Watch Group.
After the trip, Gayle made an effort to preserve the experience. She created memory books to give to each of her grandsons. Along with pictures, the books include the certificates that all participants receive at the end of an overnight program—complete with short, personal notes from the crew. She read back a meaningful note from Rosie, the Program Coordinator. It was for her younger grandson Jude and it lauded his energy and enthusiasm. Gayle also searched out the Mingulay Boat Song, which Rosie sang during an evening program in which crew and participants shared music, stories, skits, and skills. Says Gayle, “We play it all the time to remind us of being aboard.” 

Her grandsons live in Colorado and although she wishes that she could see them more often, she has evidence that the trip had a powerful impact on their lives: “The thank you letters that our grandsons wrote after the trip—I cry just thinking about it. They really, really appreciated the experience.”

If you're interested in sailing aboard Adventuress with your grandchild this summer, we're offering three 6-day Road Scholar Intergenerational Voyages: July 17-22, July 31-August 5, and August 14-19. For more information, click here.