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Lynn raised $4000 and biked 3,682 miles from Virginia Beach, VA to Canon Beach, OR with 26 people ages 18 to 25. Bike & Build organizes cross-country trips to benefit affordable housing projects.




I found loads of great seasonal jobs on coolworks.com and applied for and accepted a summer position as the breakfast/lunch cook at Stehekin Valley Ranch in Stehekin, WA, a wilderness recreation area accessible only by air, foot or water. What an adventure!




Immersion travel USA book cover


Obama speech cues 'guilt free' holidays


VOLUNTEERING: THE OBAMA generation isn’t content to lie on the beach on holiday. They want their vacations to be guilt-free as well.

“We stand at a unique moment in the history of our nation,” the US president said in a recent speech calling on Americans to spend part of their summers volunteering. Inspired by books such as Sheryl Kayne’s Volunteer Vacations Across America , some people want to work on their vacations. “They don’t want to be spending gobs of money on luxury and being observers,” says Kayne. “They want to set an example for themselves and others.”

It’s a trend picked up by the Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt, in Co Wicklow, which is inviting guests to spend some of their stay gardening and painting at the Children’s Sunshine Home.

In the US, volunteers can rescue loggerhead turtles and learn to surf in North Carolina, help reinstate the Mexican grey wolf to its natural habitat while visiting the Grand Canyon (www.gcwolfrecovery.org) and bike from coast to coast to raise money for low-income housing in the Bike Build program (www.bikeandbuild.org).

“To have the president of our country ask us to give back at a grass-roots level is such a perfect match with the actual programs that are going on,” says Kirsten Whatley, who lives in Hawaii and is an expert on opportunities in Obama’s birth state, where volunteering includes surveying reef and other underwater life. “It’s as much about the people as it is the environment,” Whatley says. “You start off as a group of strangers, but by the end of the day there is such a feeling of family and camaraderie.” Los Angeles Times


Peter Greenberg's Worldwide Radio Show: Getting Cheaper Airfares, Volunteering, and Hiking Banff Canada - Hour 1 - PGW Radio Sheryl Kayne, author of Volunteer Vacations Across America, summarizing the many ways you can give back while recharging yourself.http://tiny.cc/FAVnp

10 Unique Ways to Help Others

Learn how to give back to your community by volunteering

By Bunny Wong Posted June 02, 2009 from WomansDay.com

A 16-year-old about to drop out of school, a young mother overwhelmed by bills, a puppy in need of training: Every community has its challenges. Fortunately, there’s probably an organization you can join to do something about it. “Lately more and more people are volunteering,” says Sheryl Kayne, author of Volunteer Vacations Across America. “I think we got tired of just being observers,” she adds. And, over the past decade, many nonprofits have started steering clear of the type of volunteering your grandmother did (think candy-striping) in favor of inventive, out-of-the-box projects like the options listed below. Find one that piques your interest and get ready to give back.   http://www.womansday.com/Articles/Family-Lifestyle/10-Unique-Ways-to-Help-Others.html


Immersion Travel USA. The Best and Most Meaningful Volunteering, Living, ... your excursion into an exploration—volunteering, working, living and learning ...


There is nothing like hearing a story told the way the author intended it to be read… straight from the author’s lips is even better! Listen to Authors Read radio where Sheryl Kayne reads from VOLUNTEER VACATIONS ACROSS AMERICA, June 15

VOLUNTEER VACATIONS ACROSS AMERICA is included in this great article on volunteering and giving back and in the collection of the Daniel Boone Regional Library, Columbia, Missouri: http://tinyurl.com/ydh37xt

Volunteer vacations across America: Immersion travel USA by Sheryl Kayne

I picked this book up randomly at the library even though I'm certainly not planning any trips any time soon, but I wanted to see what kind of ideas it would provide. It was surprisingly informative. There was thorough information for each opportunity and organization, and the author included feedback from volunteers, even when negative. The best part is that many types of opportunities were included, whether short or long term, and for any type of experience, whether it be wildlife, environment, human rights and so on. Even without having any concrete plans for travel, the book is inspiring and worth at least skimming.


Jewish Exponent

What's Hot Right Now? 'Immersion Travel'
Jewish Exponent - Philadelphia,PA,USA
It wasn't surprising to discover that Sheryl Kayne, author of Volunteer Vacations Across America, has daughters named Aviva and Elanit, and that her mother ...
See all stories on this topic


TRAVEL BRIEFS - Your Life - SunHerald.com
Two new books can help you find the right volunteer vacation: “The 100 Best Volunteer Vacations to Enrich Your Life,” by Pam Grout (National Geographic, $19.95) and “Volunteer Vacations Across America” by Sheryl Kayne (The Countryman ...
SunHerald.com: Your Life - http://www.sunherald.com/living/index.rss

The Best & Most Meaningful Volunteering,
Living & Learning Excursions

Don’t just visit, get involved! With Immersion Travel you’ll go far beyond seeing the sights to interacting with the people you meet and thoroughly exploring your destination here in the USA by:

Helping: Volunteer in great locations with phenomenal people—assist with adaptive skiing or guide trips for special needs adults

Learning: Education, self-help, and alternative lifestyles—quilt, dance, philosophize, or learn to build or play a fiddle

Working: Explore Internships and Short- and Longer-Term Job Opportunities--trade organic farming skills for room & board

Caring: Immersion Travel for Animal Lovers, Caretakers, and Activists—protect loggerhead turtle nesting sites

Playing: Enjoy the Great Outdoors, Sports, and the Arts—experience zero gravity or climb a frozen waterfall


Volunteer Vacations Across America: Immersion Travel USA: Sheryl ...
By admin
Sheryl Kayne has dedicated the last few years of her life to exploring immersion travel and volunteer opportunities around the U.S. Most recently the writer-in-residence at the Everglades National Park, and a writing fellow at the ...
America travel Guidebook - http://americatravelguidebook.com/


(The Countryman Press, a division of W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., Publication Date June 1, 2009)

Volunteer Vacations are fabulous immersion travel opportunities. The demand for these trips is doubling and tripling. Recognizing this growing sector, the tourism industry is partnering with nonprofits to provide unusual and competitive volunteer opportunities, or of course, you can create your own volunteer vacation.


If so, this is YOUR opportunity to contribute to the next Immersion Travel book:

VOLUNTEERING VACATIONS ACROSS AMERICA: IMMERSION TRAVEL USA is the only comprehensive guide book devoted to Volunteer Vacations solely in the United States.

Share Your Story!



City/State/Zip Code:



Name of Organization Sponsoring the Trip:

Address of Organization:

Name of Trip:

Destination of Trip:

Cost of Trip:

Dates you participated:

Your Story:

I certify that this story is true and correct. I understand that I will not receive any compensation for contributing this story and I release all rights to Sheryl Kayne to use this information in print and all media including the Internet.

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Great fun! Sheryl Kayne's New Year's Resolutions delivered at the Westport Playhouse, Westport, CT! http://westport.patch.com/events/first-thursdays-at-the-westport-country-playhouse

Join Sheryl and Lillian Brummet on Conscious Discussions APRIL 28, 2009 1:00 P.M. EST for discussions on Immersion Travel, Volunteer Vacations, and leave no trace behind.  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/ConsciousDiscussions/2009/04/28/Eco-vacations-Clean-Green-Spaces-1

A PROMOTION WITH IMMERSION TRAVEL USA: FREE GIFT ITEM! http://www.signals.com/signals/Books-Videos-Audios_1BA/View-All-Books-Videos-Audios_1BB/Item_Immersion-Travel-USA-The-Best-And-Most-Meaningful-Volunteering-Living-And-Learning-Excursions_HH6152G_ps_ctf-1BA.html

Writing Time: Timely Response
By Barbara Abercrombie
Sheryl Kayne, www.immersiontraveler.com, author of IMMERSION TRAVEL USA: THE BEST & MOST MEANINGFUL VOLUNTEERING, LIVING & LEARNING EXCURSIONS (Countryman Press, a division of W.W. Norton & Company, 2009). ...
Writing Time - http://writingtime.typepad.com/writing_time/

Google Blogs Alert for: IMMERSION TRAVEL USA

vacation and depression internet radio show 4/8/2009 | Immersion ...
Listen to jsforemans April 8 internet radio show about vacation and depression IMMERSION TRAVEL adds much more to vacation time than a typical vacation. Why just take a trip when you can become part of the community you visit by working ... Expand your horizons right here in the USA. Immersiontraveler.com will help you plan trips that include interaction with the people and places that make this country great. . BlogTalkRadio is the leading social radio network with ...
Your Mental Health Talk Radio... - http://www.blogtalkradio.com/yourmentalhealth

Listen live to SHERYL KAYNE and





10 great places to put the 'giving' in Thanksgiving
This Thanksgiving season — and all year — why not show your thanks by putting the emphasis on giving? Sheryl Kayne, author of Immersion Travel USA: The Best & Most Meaningful Volunteering, Living & Learning Excursions, shares her favorite volunteering vacations with Tim Smight for USA TODAY.

Heifer Ranch
Perryville, Ark.

"Heifer International works to end world hunger by providing sustainable gifts of livestock and agricultural training to impoverished people around the world," Kayne says. Many of the animals the organization donates are raised on a 1,200-acre ranch in rural Arkansas. "The ranch welcomes volunteers, who participate in caring for livestock, supporting administrative operations and putting together educational programs for the public." 800-422-0474; heifer.org

Fur Seal Rookery
St. George Island, Alaska

Part of a five-island volcanic archipelago in the Bering Sea, St. George Island is the principal breeding ground for Northern fur seals. Earthwatch Institute, a non-profit group that funds and conducts environmental research, offers a 10-day vacation to monitor and study this threatened species. "Participants hike to the rookery and spend four hours each day observing the seals and recording numbers," Kayne says. 800-776-0188; earthwatch.org

The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp
Ashford, Conn.

"Founded in 1987 by Paul Newman, this wonderful facility provides a recreational and therapeutic camping experience for children with serious medical conditions," Kayne says. Open from early June through late August, it welcomes volunteers to serve as camp counselors. 860-429-3444; holeinthewallgang.org

Navajo Nation
Tuba City, Ariz.

"For a volunteering opportunity that is also a cultural experience, you can spend a week at the Navajo Nation in Tuba City," Kayne says. Amizade, a worldwide community service organization, enlists volunteers to tutor Navajo schoolchildren, organize recreational activities and assist with cultural programs. "Volunteers also participate in Navajo traditions to learn about and experience the culture." 304-293-6049; amizade.org

Continental Divide Trail
Rocky Mountain Region

The 1,600-mile Continental Divide Trail, which traverses the spine of the Rocky Mountains from Canada to Mexico, was designated a National Scenic Trail in 1978. "Each year from May through early October, the non-profit Continental Divide Trail Alliance recruits volunteers to help repair, maintain and expand various segments of the trail," Kayne says. "This is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors while helping to preserve a national treasure for future generations." 888-909-2382; cdtrail.org/getinvolved

Big Dipper Eco Farm
Kingsley, Mich.

Want to learn how to farm organically from people who've been doing it successfully for more than 20 years? Volunteers at Big Dipper Eco Farm can work a few days, a week or longer in exchange for room and board. "Tasks include weeding, hoeing, picking and packing crops for market," Kayne says. "Family-style meals are prepared and eaten together." Big Dipper is a member of WWOOF-USA (wwoofusa.org), an organization that links volunteers with organic farmers around the country. 231-263-3639; localdifference.org/farmdetail.asp?id=133

Historic "Shotgun Houses"
Cairo, Ill.

As part of a redevelopment effort in this historic river town situated at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, volunteers can spend a week helping to renovate abandoned shotgun-style houses. "These are unique post-Civil-War-era dwellings built on narrow lots — one-room wide and with all the doors aligned," Kayne says. "Volunteers work with building conservation specialists to rehabilitate the homes with the goal of providing quality affordable housing." The program is organized by Heritage Conservation Network in partnership with Southern Illinois University and local residents. 303-444-0128; heritageconservation.net/ws-cairo.htm

The Elephant Sanctuary
Hohenwald, Tenn.

The Elephant Sanctuary is the nation's largest natural-habitat refuge for elephants that have been retired from circuses and zoos. "Set on over 2,700 acres, the sanctuary has separate environments for Asian and African elephants, with pastures, forests, spring-fed ponds and heated barns," Kayne says. Volunteers help with chores such as painting, fencing, facility renovation or construction of new habitat areas. 931-796-6500; elephants.com

Heron Lake State Park
Los Ojos, N.M.

Many state parks nationwide need assistance with special events. At New Mexico's Heron Lake State Park, volunteers can help with the Osprey Festival, held each July to spotlight one of North America's largest birds of prey, which nests in the park. "Festival volunteers are trained and employed as needed for activities including pontoon boat tours, assisting naturalists with live raptor exhibits, and helping visitors view osprey nests with spotting scopes," Kayne says. 505-588-7470; www.emnrd.state.nm.us/prd/heron.htm

Louisiana Children's Museum
New Orleans

More than three years after Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans, residents are still in need of help. Under a program run by Relief Spark (reliefspark.org), a community-based organization that coordinates volunteer efforts in the New Orleans area, volunteers can help rebuild children's hope and self-confidence at the Louisiana Children's Museum. "Volunteers participate in hands-on art and science projects, interactive learning games and storytelling for visiting school groups," Kayne says. 504-586-0725 (ext. 204); lcm.org


I've just read your article—and I loved it. 
Read Sheryl Kayne's Immersion Traveler USA columns on SingleMindedWomen's "Escapes" channel. 
Thanks again for these wonderful submissions, 
Josie Brown 
Editorial Director - SingleMindedWomen.com 


Monday, September 22, 8:45 p.m. EST LIVE with Art Zuckerman, Host,  “Z” Travel & Leisure, WVOX, 1460 AM  

Tuesday, September 23, 11:00 a.m. (Pacific) Rod McLaughlin Travel Show, KPAM Portland, Oregon 



"This book is a handy starter that will save hours of research for anyone looking to travel where they can learn, volunteer or live like a local. If you can't find something that makes you want to go, check your pulse."

  THE WASHINGTON POST, Sunday, October 12, 2008



BEST IMMERSION TRAVEL USA (Countryman Press, W.W. Norton & Company, Fall 2008) is an extensive listing of IMMERSION TRAVELER trips within the United States.

• Would you consider vacationing on an organic farm and working in exchange for room and board?
• Do you want to be a bus driver and wildlife tour guide in a National Park?
• How about volunteering with The Wounded Warrior Disabled Sports Project providing adaptive sporting events for Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans?

BEST IMMERSION TRAVEL USA is organized in categories of interests and locations for you to plan the trip that meets your needs.
Many entries begin with a personal story from someone who has experienced the activity or one very similar to it.

Check out Sheryl's site at www.immersiontravel.com for more information and to order the book.


My friend, author and travelista, Sheryl Kayne has come out with a great new book and a terrific website on travel. Immersion Travel USA isn't just about travel, it's about immersing yourself in culture, learning, volunteering, and growing.  If you or anyone you know love to travel, check it out!  My husband's and his love of Sedona AZ are featured in the book as well as three of my photos of Sedona.  It's available online or any bookstore. Stacey Wolf, www.staceywolf.com


CHECK THIS OUT! http://www.supportlibrary.com/nl/users/yakima/mweb/path6-1.html


Immerse Yourself in This Book Before Your Next Trip (2009-01-08)
Sometimes a regular, traditional vacation just does not fit the bill. If you are looking for more emotional or intellectual depth from your next trip, check out Immersion Travel USA.

Immersion trips are for everyone (young and old, rich and not). In fact, immersion travel can encompass a period of less than a day, even in your own hometown. A portion of Kayne's definition of immersion travel is "taking an active part in where you visit." The book is primarily divided into five chapters: Helping, Learning, Working, Caring, and Playing. The book has over 400 pages, so each chapter has dozens of listings. Each listing has contact information, rates, and an explanation. Many entries have accompanying personal stories; they add real weight, as we are mot just reading a travel writer's list of activities.

Many entries are well-known, such as working for the National Park Service, caretaking properties, sports camps, houseboat rentals, and route 66 tours. There are also cooking schools and history, science, and archaeological opportunities. Needless to say, there is something for everyone. A sample of fascinating entries include astronaut camp for adults, coral reef checking, humpback whale counting, and cowboy poetry gatherings. Some entries include suggestions for nearby lodging and dining--but that is not the main purpose. The purpose is to list meaningful trips and it does very well.

I imagine there will be international editions published in the future. I look forward to them.

Reviewed January 2009 by Charles McCool at LowerAirfares.com



New book champions immersion travel

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NEW YORK (AP) — Do you dream about chucking the daily routine to become a park ranger, or getting a job on a cruise ship? Maybe you're more the volunteer type, or you'd like to learn about falconry or try a silent meditation retreat.

A new book called Immersion Travel USA: The Best and Most Meaningful Volunteering, Living, and Learning Excursions offers a thoughtful guide to a variety of travel experiences that involve more than a week-long road trip or a few days in a hotel.

The book, by Sheryl Kayne (Countryman Press, $19.95), tells readers how to get involved instead of just visiting the places they are interested in. Chapters are devoted to volunteering, learning, and working, in addition to a section on caring, which describes opportunities for animal-lovers and activists, and playing, which lists ways to enjoy sports and the arts.

The book also includes inspirational first-person narratives, like the story of a woman in her 40s who lost her executive job and decided to move to Alaska, where she got a job as a waitress in Denali National Park to pay her bills. An older couple describes how they sold their house, bought a motor home and went to work for the National Park Service in the Everglades in the winter and Yellowstone in the summer.

Other unusual listings in the book include rustic ranch work at Allen's Diamond Four Ranch in Lander, Wyo., the National Storytelling Festival held annually in October in Jonesborough, Tenn., and the Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project.

Amizade profiled in new book on "best" travel experiences: Amizade's US programs are highlighted in Immersion Travel USA: The Best and Most Meaningful Volunteering, Living, and Learning Excursions by Sheryl Kayne (2009, Countryman Press). The book describes Amizade's service-learning trips to the Navajo Nation (cultural immersion and tutoring), Montana/Yellowstone (historic preservation, habitat restoration), and Washington, DC (homelessness and hunger).



 Immerse yourself in the latest style of travel by E'Louise Ondash

Some people spend their lives avoiding new situations and change. Travel writer Sheryl Kayne seeks it out.

In fact, the 50-ish, single-mom, travel writer is happiest when she’s outside her comfort zone and she encourages others to come on out and join her.

Kayne, who calls Weston, Conn., home (she’s not there much), tells how to take traveling to a new level in her newly published “Immersion Travel USA: The Best and Most Meaningful Volunteering, Living, and Learning Excursions” (The Countryman Press; $19.95).

Immersion travel, she says, means “taking an active part in where you visit in order to learn about the culture, traditions and characteristics of each particular place.”

“I’ve always loved to travel,” she writes, “but hated being a rather ordinary kind of tourist.”

In other words, forget groups, tour buses, hotel hopping and “buzzing through major sites at the speed of Superwoman.”

Immersion travel is getting up-close-and-personal with the people of an area and their way of life — getting to know what they do, why they do it and how.

“I wanted to see, hear, smell, touch and taste where I went,” she writes of her early travels. “At the time, I didn’t know that what I wanted to experience was immersion travel.”

Don’t worry; Kayne is not talking about living with aborigines in Australia or the Masai in Tanzania. As the title of her book indicates, it is all about the opportunities in this country.

Her first immersion experience unfolded in the summer of 2003.

“It was the first time my (two) daughters and my life were organized such that I could venture off on my own for a seasonal summer position,” Kayne said in a phone interview from Florida, where she is writing a second travel book. “My goals were to drive across the country by myself … and to work somewhere new and different from where I lived.”

After researching via the Internet, Kayne applied for cooking jobs. She’d been a volunteer cook at a kibbutz in Israel and had some experience in catering. To learn baking skills, she practiced with a friend who owned a restaurant. She was hired as a breakfast/lunch cook at a remote ranch in Stehekin, Wash., in the Lake Chelan National Recreation Area in the Cascades National Park Complex.

“It’s only accessible by foot on the Pacific Crest Trail or by pontoon plane or ferry,” Kayne said. “There is only one, nine-mile road from the dock to Stehekin Valley Ranch. This was truly an opportunity to get to know a very small community in a one-of-a-kind place.”

In 2005, the travel writer drove from Connecticut to Alaska and took a job near Denali National Park, where she wrote and performed history presentations for visitors. This past summer, Kayne volunteered with Head Start at the Taos Pueblo in Taos, N.M.

“Immersion Travel USA” relates some of these experiences and tells readers how to research and prepare for such trips. The book also lists the multiple opportunities for those who want immersion via education, outdoor adventure, alternative lifestyles, internships and self help and volunteer programs. Sometimes the experiences are free, some pay an hourly wage or stipend, and some trade services for room and board.

Immersion travel doesn’t have to mean that you drop out for months at a time, either. The experience can be a week, a weekend or just a day.

“Whatever you do,” Kayne said, “immersion travel changes your life and changes the way you travel.”





http://pierrewolfe.blogspot.com September 21, 3:00 p.m.

Immersive Travel in the USA - Amateur Traveler Episode 154
By Chris Christensen's Blogs(Chris Christensen's Blogs)
The Amateur Traveler talks to author Sheryl Kayne about her new book Immersion Travel USA. She talks about volunteer travel, educational travel and other immersive experiences from experiencing zero G to quilting, from climbing frozen ...
Chris Christensen on the Internet - http://chris2x.blogspot.com/

synch-ro-ni-zing: ANN (-ual) ARBOR
By Ruth
Immersion Travel USA has ideas for visiting a place long enough to really get to know it, and maybe to volunteer and make a difference where you stay. http://ruthie822.blogspot.com/

Immerse yourself in love of travel:  The Omaha World-Herald

NEW YORK (AP) — Do you dream about chucking the daily routine to become a park ranger, or getting a job on a cruise ship? Maybe you're more the volunteer type, or you'd like to learn about falconry or try a silent meditation retreat.

A new book called "Immersion Travel USA: The Best and Most Meaningful Volunteering, Living, and Learning Excursions" offers a thoughtful guide to a variety of travel experiences that involve more than a weeklong road trip or a few days in a hotel.

The book, by Sheryl Kayne, tells readers how to get involved instead of just visiting the places they are interested in.

The book also includes inspirational first-person narratives, like the story of a woman in her 40s who lost her executive job and decided to move to Alaska, where she got a job as a waitress in Denali National Park to pay her bills. An older couple describes how they sold their house, bought a motor home and went to work for the National Park Service in the Everglades in the winter and Yellowstone in the summer.

This story, by Sheryl Kayne, was voted the funniest for 7-03-2009: http://laughtub.com/stories/winners

On my way to Destruction Bay, Canada 

Driving alone from Weston, Connecticut to Denali National Park, Alaska, I admit that I didn’t do a lot of pre-planning.  One very long day after hours of driving through beautiful yet desolate landscape, where the only living things I saw walking around were on four legs, I was quite thrilled to spot a portable potty perched high on a promontory overlooking a beautiful mountainside.  It was a windy, overcast night and as I opened my door, a gust of wind shoved me back into the car. I was startled but determined to use the facilities.  Walking the 10 yards to the potty, the wind was quite strong in that open area. I had to push the door open with all of my weight.


Within moments of my becoming somewhat comfortable the potty started to rock back and forth. My immediate reaction was to yell out, “Occupied! I’ll be right out.” The only answer came from the howling wind which seemed to be shooting up from underneath the potty and out through the vented ceiling.   Then the rickety structure shook so badly I thought it was about to turn completely over or take off.  I felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, about to leave Kansas.  I bolted from the porta-potty and reassembled my outfit in the safety of my car as I heard a loud crack and watched the portable potty suddenly lift from its base and topple down into the valley below.


Sheryl Kayne promotes 'Immersion Travel' PDF Print E-mail
Written by Fran Sikorski   
Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Sheryl Kayne of Weston will have a reading and book signing of her recently released book, Immersion Travel USA, on Saturday, Jan. 10, at 2 at the Barnes and Noble store on the Post Road in Westport.

Writer, adventurer, oral interpreter, educator, stand-up comedy performer and visitor to 46 states, Sheryl Kayne of Weston isn’t home very much these days. But wherever she is, she takes an active part in her surroundings to learn about the cultural traditions and characteristics of each place she visits.


In her recently released guidebook, Immersion Travel USA, the author refers to these visits as “immersions,” meaning taking an active part in the place visited in order to learn about its culture, tradition and characteristics. A person might have options to trade skills for room and board, for instance, or just volunteer in a field that could be followed by an offer of a job.

Now “briefly” home in Weston, Sheryl Kayne said, “I grew up in Fredericksburg, Va., and my dad was a traveling jewelry salesman, and occasionally I would get to go on day trips with him and explore other lifestyles, and that’s what got me started on immersion travel.

“I remember looking at map when I was in the seventh grade and learning there were roads to Alaska, and saying to my teacher, ‘I’m going to drive to Alaska,’ and she said, ‘You had better get your driver’s license first.’

“I drove across the United States in 2003, and in 2005, drove to Alaska by myself, and it was the experience of a lifetime. My life dream has been to be a park ranger in Denali National Park, and I set aside a summer to fulfill my dream. I didn’t get the job as a park ranger, but as a volunteer, I worked at a hotel in McKinley Village writing vignettes on women in the Gold Rush era and performing in different costumes, giving tourists brief histories.

“One summer I took a job as a breakfast cook in a camp in the Stehekin Valley Range, a wilderness recreation camp in the State of Washington, and remained there for the entire season. It doesn’t matter where I am,” the author said, “because I take an active part in the area I am visiting, and offer something to other visitors as well. There is so much to volunteer for across the United States, and you may also get a paying job while doing it.”

With an abundance of information on her immersion travels, Sheryl Kayne recently completed her second book, Volunteer Vacations Across America that will be released in June 2009 by Countryman Press, a division of W.W. Norton and Company. The author has filled many journals recording personal stories of people who have discovered immersion travel and how it has changed their lives.

Immersion Travel USA is divided into activity and interest areas that make the book easy to use. You don’t have to read through the whole book to discover what you want to do, because as you browse through it, you discover possibilities to fit your own schedule. The interest areas are: helping — volunteering in great locations with phenomenal people; learning — education, self help and alternative lifestyles; working — exploring internships and short and longer term job opportunities; caring — for animal lovers, caretakers and activists; and playing — enjoying the great outdoors, sports and the arts.

“I feel very strongly about the weak economy, that people are eager to explore and try something different without spending a lot of money,” said Ms. Kayne who recently returned from Taos, N.M., where she was a writing fellow with the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation. She has also been a writer-in-residence at the Everglades National Park in Homestead, Fla., and recipient of numerous awards for writing.

A Weston resident for 24 years, Ms. Kayne created the column “The Weigh It Is” for The Weston Forum. She is the author of two published children’s books; creator of newspaper and magazine columns; and contributor to national and international publications, and is an adjunct professor at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield teaching public speaking and oral interpretation of literature.

“Immersion travel is a life-changing experience,” said Ms. Kayne, and it has brought everything together that I’ve done in my life. A successful conclusion of an immersion excursion is a momentous occasion. You take a step back to consider your accomplishments and appreciate what went into planning and implementation of your immersion travel achievement. Each experience has an impact on you and when you return home, you’re not the same person who left. Be prepared for some surprises when getting back into the groove and making new spaces in old spaces....

“Each immersion I do, I take a lot of it with me, and leave some of me,” Ms. Kayne said reflectively. She will give a talk and sign copies of her book at the Westport Barnes and Noble on Jan. 10.


Intergenerational Volunteer VacationsTraveling on a Budget with the Grandkids© Marsha TemlockMar 9, 2009Volunteer vacations are a great way to spend quality time with the grandchildren. By planning ahead, you can do a good deed and have fun while stretching your dollars. Because so many retirees and pre-retirees are feeling the pinch in this economic downturn, they may find themselves looking for some alternative to spending big bucks on a lavish family vacation. One suggestion is to consider a volunteer vacation where you and the grandkids get to work side-by-side and share a meaningful experience.Volunteer vacations are typically more affordable than pricey resort vacations because room and board are generally low, team members often cook meals together, and there may be group travel rates to defray the costs.How to Select the Right Volunteer VacationThere are a variety of volunteer vacations. Here are some suggestions to get the most out of your volunteer vacation with the grandkids:Capitalizing on your grandchild’s interest. Focus on a cause, project, career goal or particular subject. If for example, your grandchild is concerned about saving the environment, you could look into Global Exchange and Co-op America that produces annual Green Festivals in Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. Green Festivals offer music, art, food and other local cultural attractions as well as how-to-workshops.Know your capabilities. Are you ready for a physical challenge, an adventure or a more sedentary learning experience? Respect your limitations or you will find the volunteer experience too taxing and you will not be able to enjoy the time with your grandchild. What amenities are you willing to sacrifice? You may not be happy sleeping in a tent, hauling bricks for hours or being air-lifted to a remote desert island.By the same token, consider the age of your grandchild. For young children, a short -term volunteer activity in a familiar locale may be all he or she can handle. Your goal may be to help your grandchild build connections with nature, wildlife and/or their community. Older children can participate in a training program that prepares them as caretakers or construction work.Decide if you want to stay local, visit some place in the U.S. or go abroad. In-country trips are, of course, less expensive. However, fundraisers can help offset the cost of a foreign travel. Once there, you can use the opportunity to explore the rest of the country when you complete the volunteer experience.Do your research. It may be that your church or organization is planning a trip that complements your grandchild's interest. But don't narrow your search for the right opportunity. The book "Immersion Travel USA" describes the best and most meaningful volunteering, living and learning excursions that is a cornucopia of information. The website Volunteer Family lists appropriate activities for family members of all ages.Prior to settling on your choice, check out the organization sponsoring the project. If possible talk to previous participants to get the low-down.Volunteer Vacation TipsIt just takes some thought and preparation to make the volunteer vacation hassle-free.·         Bring plenty of toys, books, magazine on long drives and to prepare for airport delays on route to your volunteer vacation. ·         Cut down on costs by providing snacks and drinks. ·         Pace yourself. Arrange for down time for you and the kids at each end of the volunteer activity. ·         Try not to set high expectations. Life happens and things are bound to go wrong. Be flexible and make the best of 'surprises.'There is no need to feel guilty if this year you have to cut back on a lavish vacation with your grandkids. When you organize a volunteer vacation you not only give back to others, you have fun and create memories that will last you a lifetime.Check these out for more volunteer trip information: www.globalexchange.org; www.volunteerfamily.org; "Immersion Travel USA" Sheryl Kayne (Countryman Press, 2009). 


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