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Clarkson University Elderhostel Popular With Seniors

POTSDAM, NY - This summer the “senior class” at Clarkson University had a different look. On a warm July afternoon, if you walked down a hallway of the Science Center you would have found thirty gray-haired men and women studiously working at PCs in a darkened computer lab, while a pair of instructors used a computer projection system to lead the class through the basics of a word-processing program. This class of “seniors” was taking part in an Elderhostel course called “Have Fun And Learn: Basic Computer Training For Beginners.”

Clarkson hosted three one-week Elderhostel courses this summer, two sessions of the course for computing beginners, plus a more advanced course covering the use of Internet and e-mail.

Peg Walrich, coordinator of Clarkson’s Elderhostel, says the computer classes are very popular. “More and more older adults are getting computers. They want to write letters, make cards, and use e-mail to keep in touch with their family.” The courses, which have been in place for several years, will be offered again next year, Ms. Walrich confirmed. “We can take 30 in each class and they always fill up.”

The participants, many of whom had never used a computer before, spoke highly of the instructors, Bill and Mary Lu Fisher. “They went slow and easy and I was able to find my way around,” said Marcy Wampach of Geneva, Illinois.

The Elderhostel participants stay in Moore House, one of Clarkson’s residence halls, and the lounge there becomes home base. With a piano, card tables and a refrigerator stocked with beverages and snacks, the late evenings were often filled with card games, singing and laughter.

Participants have ranged in age from 55 to 90, and come from as far away as California, Illinois, and Florida. “Lots of people take advantage of coming here to visit the Thousand Islands or the Adirondacks,” said Ms. Walrich. “They enjoy the campus and the community.”

Clarkson University has been providing summer Elderhostel courses since 1978, getting on board early with the popular organization that was founded in 1975. Elderhostel, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization which offers educational experiences and travel for adults who are 55 and over. Courses are hosted by universities, national parks, museums, conference centers and other learning sites in the U.S., Canada and over 90 other countries around the world.

Anyone interested in signing up for an Elderhostel program can find additional information at the organization’s website:

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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