Cool Schools?
June 21, 2005 1:20 PM   Subscribe

Dad and I want to take a class together for a few days. We've looked at the ones we already know about -- boat building, blacksmithing, race car driving, cooking -- but have decided that we want something 'different.' Doesn't have to be practical -- in fact, it might be nice if it was something we'd likely never do again. Mostly interested in experiential type things, since traditional classes tend to beat the joy out of new experiences for me. Willing to travel. Any suggestions?
posted by Framer to Education (26 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you considered a wilderness survival class? Unfortunately, I haven't gotten to do one yet, so I can't recommend any in particular, but I've had friends who've never even been camping before come back from a 10 day immersive class raving about what an amazing experience it was when they crushed a snake with a rock and then ate it raw late on the 4th day.

God that sounds like fun.
posted by saladin at 1:26 PM on June 21, 2005

This might be fun to learn how to make whisky - disillery school
posted by tke248 at 1:28 PM on June 21, 2005

Where are you located? What are you willing to pay? Are you in shape? A lot of mountain guide services offer 4 - 5 day mountaineering courses. I did this one a few years ago and it was one of the greatest experiences in my entire life.

The technical gear is provided and can be rented so you're only responsible for your personal gear.
posted by bondcliff at 1:30 PM on June 21, 2005

You can't go wrong with scuba diving lessons and you can them anywhere these days (I did mine in Montana).
posted by Staggering Jack at 1:32 PM on June 21, 2005

Rock climbing? Oil painting? Hang gliding? Skiing/snowboarding? Basket-weaving? Kayaking? Ski-diving?

Are you looking for an outdoorsy thrill-seeking kinda thing? Or an artsy-craft sorta thing?
posted by LordSludge at 1:40 PM on June 21, 2005

I seem to recall a story about a group that builds one or two post-and-beam houses each summer using traditional tools (read-NO power tools) They use it as a classroom and take on "students" to do the work.
Wish I had a name or link, though.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:40 PM on June 21, 2005

er, make that SKY diving...
posted by LordSludge at 1:40 PM on June 21, 2005

what about some pilot training?
posted by mhaw at 1:42 PM on June 21, 2005

Learn how to ride track bikes at you local (or not-so-local) Velodrome. Riding on a banked track with dad on a one-speed no-coast no-brakes bike...priceless.
posted by fixedgear at 2:02 PM on June 21, 2005

Have you thought of spending a week or two (or six) in an intensive language school? Central America has some really excellent (value/quality of instruction) Spanish language schools. In Guatemala for $115-200/week you get one-on-one instruction for 4-5 hours/day, a homestay with a local family, 3 meals/day, and occasional optional cultural activities. The homestays & meals are all optional (making it easy to stay in a nice hotel) & price decreases by $30+. Some schools also offer instruction in Mayan languages, backstrap weaving, and even traditional herbalism/midwifery. Most are oriented towards the backpacker/gap year crowd, but there are also plenty with a more serious bent.

Otherwise, I'd second scuba diving!
posted by soviet sleepover at 2:18 PM on June 21, 2005

Glass blowing classes can be very cool. Most major metros have a studio that offers classes. Its amazing how quickly you can make some very cool looking things. It is also something done best in teams of at least two people. Both the northwest and the northeast have strong concentrations of glass studios likely to have classes. The first class I took went something like - here are the things that are very very hot - don't touch them - here is the furnace - go for it.
posted by Wolfie at 2:20 PM on June 21, 2005

I took a sushi-rolling 101 class that was attended by 2 sons and their father, that they had bought him for a father's day present. The father looked like a meat-and-potatoes type and was somewhat skeptical, but by the end he was having a great time. It was very sweet - and certainly non-traditional. Plus sushi-making is actually a very masculine art.
posted by matildaben at 2:30 PM on June 21, 2005

My co-worker and her husband are going to the British Virgin Islands to get some type of sailing certification. I don't know if I'd want to go there in the summer though, it's going to be hot.
posted by bendy at 2:44 PM on June 21, 2005

How about learning to make buildings (or other outdoor structures) out of mud? We're currently building a mud beehive oven in our backyard, and it's all kinds of fun. My nephew took a workshop from Cob Cottage and totally loved it. Several outfits offer "cob" (technical name for it) workshops in some pretty nice locales, such as Baja and Victoria Island. Here are a few:
Cob Cottage
House Alive
posted by bricoleur at 3:11 PM on June 21, 2005

Bicycle Frame Building?
posted by monkeystronghold at 3:21 PM on June 21, 2005


Located in Western Massachusetts, but will travel for this. Dad's 60+ and in good shape, but not wilderness adventure/scuba shape.

We've both done quite a bit of timber framing, Thorzdad. I think the school you're thinking of may be Heartwood.

Outdoorsy, but not overly strenuous. Arts-and-craftsy, but not basketweaving.

Glass blowing sounds like a good one.

All good suggestions so far, but no AH-HA moments yet.....
posted by Framer at 3:28 PM on June 21, 2005

BBQ University: 3 days at a swank W. Va. resort where you spend most of the time learning to cook BBQ from an expert, and spend your spare time doing leisurely resort activities like tennis, mountain biking, and falconry(!).

Looks amazing. They only do it a few times a year, and it aint cheap (around $1500 per person). One day, my dad and I will both have the time when I have the money to treat him, and we'll go.
posted by jewishbuddha at 3:42 PM on June 21, 2005

One of the coolest things I saw my dad do was design a hand tool, and take a metalworking course so he could get access to machinery and build it.

Archery? Bookbinding? Animal tracking? CAD? Cabinetry? Furniture restoration? Marquetry? Sign language? Toymaking? Sculpture?

I'm really just throwing random stuff at you here - something might stick.
posted by Leon at 3:48 PM on June 21, 2005

A dude ranch.
An archaeological or paleontological dig
Intertidal marine ecology
Dry-stone wall-building
posted by Rumple at 4:01 PM on June 21, 2005

How about astronomy? Does anyone know of any observatories that offer weekend programs?
posted by Framer at 5:25 PM on June 21, 2005

There are places here that teach ironmongering. What about stained glass?
posted by jacquilynne at 5:51 PM on June 21, 2005

These sites might give you some ideas:
posted by BoscosMom at 6:27 PM on June 21, 2005

hang gliding lessons on the lovely outer banks of North Carolina. It's not _that_ physically strenuous. They also have parasailing and/or things like that. You can do pretty well in a couple of days, I think, and if you decide to go for certification -- well, that takes longer.
posted by amtho at 6:46 PM on June 21, 2005

I've always thought this organization sounded interesting.
(sorry, don't know how to do the link thing)
posted by BoscosMom at 7:45 PM on June 21, 2005

New experience, yet not that strenuous or outdoorsy?

Acting classes! I just took one, and while not physically demanding, I found that it broadened my horizons both emotionally and mentally.
posted by spinifex23 at 10:57 PM on June 21, 2005

My dad is just about 60 and in good shape, and he loves him some glider training. (A general link since I am not remembering where he goes -- drop me a line if you need specifics and I'll ask him.)

You might also be interested in some of the offerings at the John C. Campbell Folk School.
posted by gnomeloaf at 7:53 AM on June 22, 2005

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