Learning Vacations

  • Language camp for adults

    It had become a summer tradition: Drive my daughter up north to her German camp at Concordia Language Villages, look enviously around the fabulous campus and whine that adults should get to come, too. Someone was listening. One day, a flier arrived at my house, announcing the first French and German adult weeks. As it turns out, others had whined, too. "We've got these millions and millions of dollars' worth of facilities, and we want to use them,'' said Larry Saukko, dean of the Finnish and academic-year German programs.

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  • Taking another swing

    I coulda been a contender. I played tennis as a kid, teaching myself on the courts near my house, and I played on my high school girls’ tennis team, which, while not very competitive, had an actual coach thanks to Title IX. But I never took lessons, and after high school, my budding skills slid into disuse. The years passed and I became a has-been, with nothing to look forward to but the senior varsity.

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  • Classroom in the Clearing

    In a cedar and pine forest on Lake Michigan, moments of illumination fly around like sparks off a campfire. The best way to capture sunrise on film. Handy techniques for depicting shadow in watercolors. How to harness the power of the inner eye. At the Clearing in Door County, everything becomes clearer.

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  • Now they're cooking

    If you think you're a pretty good cook, just take a class at a cooking school and see how fast you change your mind. When I showed up at L'ecole de la Maison at the Osthoff Resort, 18 detailed recipes were awaiting our group of eight students. Everything had to be made from scratch: sheets of pasta and two sauces for the seafood rotolo, rolled cheese crisps for the salad, ladyfingers for the tiramisu. The ciabatta bread, too.

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  • Schools of know-how

    In this part of the country, the do-it-yourself movement is alive and well. Folk schools in Minnesota are thriving, with dozens of workshops offered. In canoe country, you can learn winter photography one weekend at the Ely Folk School, and animal tracking the next. In bluff country near Lanesboro, take a class at the Eagle Bluff Skills School on cheese-making or Amish bread-baking.

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  • Capturing winter's beauty

    Nothing is more photogenic than winter. As anyone who’s tried winter photography knows, it’s no snap.

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  • Slinging cement in Mineral Point

    In southwest Wisconsin, it is natural that people gather in Mineral Point to smash plates, snip glass and cover themselves in cement dust. Just to the east, an Austrian-born cheesemaker encrusted his house with glass "jewels'' and filled his yard with concrete fairy-tale figures.

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