cover image The Story of Elderhostel

The Story of Elderhostel

Eugene S. Mills, Author University Press of New England $25 (216p) ISBN 978-0-87451-599-2

Mills, former president of the University of New Hampshire and board member of Elderhostel, has produced a modest, readable portrait of the university-based education and travel program for senior citizens, which now has 300,000 alumni. The author offers portraits of the Elderhostel experience--an Arizona program covers subjects from lexicography to the social history of mining towns--and details the history of the program, starting with its founding in 1975 by two iconoclastic educators. Though he sometimes dwells too much on the organizational details of Elderhostel, Mills doesn't ignore the people; he offers composite sketches of six Elderhostelers, some of whom came seeking companionship, some intellectual stimulation. Also included are accounts from teachers who are happy to teach ``folks who simply want to know.'' Mills suggests that Elderhostel occupies a special niche in a country where healthy elders seek engagement, though he notes that to date participants have been mostly upper-middle class. Specialists in senior citizen issues as well as those involved in Elderhostel should find the book interesting. Photos not seen by PW. (Jan.)