Camp Ondessonk offers hiking, horse and other educational adventures for adults through its partnership with Road Scholar – the new program name for Elderhostel International, the not-for-profit world leader in lifelong learning and educational travel since 1975. Road Scholar programs bring together instructors and participants from diverse backgrounds to foster dynamic interaction, engaging discourse and warm camaraderie. Our programs include hands-on learning experiences that stimulate the senses, energize the body and challenge the mind.
Experience breathtaking views of the geological formations that make Southern Illinois such a hidden gem by canoe, foot, and horseback. Explore natural wonders, historic landmarks, and the highest free-falling waterfall in Illinois. Learn all about the history of the area, the geological features, and the local flora and fauna from experts in the field. Enjoy delicious meals and great company in our nostalgic camp setting.
“Camp Ondessonk is a beautiful setting, the accommodations are very comfortable and the ample meals delicious. I love visiting different regions of the U.S. and the trip to southern Illinois was certainly worth it. I look forward to returning to Camp Ondessonk”
Anne F., Massachusetts
For more information on Camp Ondessonk’s Road Scholar programs, contact Greg Santen, our Program Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org, via phone at 618.695.2489 x129, or click here: Road Scholars at Camp Ondessonk .
HIKING IN SOUTHERN ILLINOIS:
This is an extraordinary outdoor adventure in the hidden gem that is Southern Illinois. Road Scholars will explore deep canyons, waterfalls, rock-bottom creeks, and cypress swamps making visitors feel they are in the Ozarks, Smokies, or the Deep South’s bayous without ever leaving the Midwest. Professional guides and naturalists interpret the area’s natural and cultural history where north, south, east, and west overlap creating one of the most biologically diverse regions on the continent. Hike through oak-hickory hardwood forests, sandstone canyons, and the northernmost cypress swamp in America. Camp Ondessonk is a 983-acre site adjacent to the Shawnee National Forest, home to the highest waterfall in Illinois, and in close proximity to some of the most scenic areas of the Midwest. Some highlights of the progressively more difficult hikes include sweeping views from atop a retired Forest Service fire lookout tower, the Heron Pond floating boardwalk through a cypress swamp, beautiful state parks and natural areas, and the culminating five-mile section of the River-to-River trail through the Garden of the Gods National Wilderness.
“This program was delightful. The hiking was challenging, but yet not so strenuous that I could not keep up with the group. I recommend this program for anyone interested in hiking through beautiful forests over difficult trails and viewing breathtaking sandstone formations and scenery.”
Judith from Illinois
To enroll in this program, click here: Hiking in Southern Illinois
March 29 – April 3, 2020
October 11 – 16, 2020
Click here to view a great blog by one of our past Road Scholar participants.
Check out this great slideshow made by one of our past Road Scholars:
HIKE, BIKE, PADDLE, AND RIDE: A SHAWNEE NATIONAL FOREST ADVENTURE:
The hidden gem of Southern Illinois is a close-kept secret of outdoor enthusiasts and where Road Scholars will explore deep canyons, waterfalls, rock-bottom creeks, and cypress swamps. Most visitors feel they are in the Ozarks, Smokies, or the Deep South’s bayous but without ever leaving the Midwest. Hike, bike, paddle, and ride through oak-hickory hardwood forests, open pastures, sandstone canyons, and the northernmost cypress swamp in America. Professional guides and naturalists interpret the area’s natural and cultural history where north, south, east, and west overlap creating one of the most biologically diverse regions on the continent. Camp Ondessonk is in close proximity to some of the most scenic areas of the Midwest. Some highlights include hiking through Ondessonk’s 983-acre site adjacent to the Shawnee National Forest to see the state’s tallest waterfall, paddling through an ancient cypress swamp, bicycling down an old railroad grade through scenic, rolling countryside, and riding one of Ondessonk’s 70 horses through picturesque pastures.
“If you are looking for an introduction to hiking, horseback riding, and canoeing, then this is the program for you. The setting in southern Illinois is perfect for these activities. With the staff and facilities, you will be in for a fun and educational time. “
Steven from Washington state
To enroll in this program, click here: Hike, Bike, Paddle, and Ride: A Shawnee National Forest Adventure
April 19 – 24, 2020
September 20 – 25, 2020
September 27 – October 2, 2020
HORSEBACK ADVENTURES IN THE SHAWNEE NATIONAL FOREST:
Grab the reins for an adventure that will have you feeding, grooming, saddling, and riding a horse – all with the help of knowledgeable and experienced riding instructors who are certified by the Certified Horsemanship Association. We offer two levels of horseback adventures; an introductory program for those with little to no previous horse experience, as well as an intermediate level program for those with some riding experience, but who want to gain new skills and knowledge about horses and trail riding. Observe horse behaviors and personalities, learn about equine health issues, and be able to distinguish the characteristics of various breeds. Participants will undergo a sequence of lessons from the proper feeding, grooming, and saddling techniques, to instructional riding sessions in our outdoor riding arena, followed by trail rides of increasing length and difficulty throughout the week. Each Road Scholar will be given their own horse to learn to take care of and ride all week and assist in feeding our 70-horse herd every morning. Participants will gain new appreciation for the bond between human and animal as they connect with their horse, as well as the great outdoors, on this extraordinary adventure. Camp Ondessonk’s equestrian trails pass through beautiful pastures and out into the Shawnee National Forest past sandstone bluffs, rock-bottom creeks, waterfalls, and oak-hickory forests.
“I encountered a beautiful and powerful creature and with guidance and support, I realized he was a skilled, patient, kind partner for the trail. I encountered my fears and found I was also a skilled, patient, and kind partner for the trail, my horse, and myself. Happy trails!”
Deb S. from Michigan
To enroll in this program, click here: Horseback Adventures in the Shawnee National Forest
Introductory Level: Intermediate/Advanced Level:
April 5 – 10, 2020 October 4 – 9, 2020
May 3 – 8, 2020 October 18 – 23, 2020
August 30 – September 4, 2020
September 13 – 18, 2020