Lifelong Learning offers free group trips to Washington, D.C., attractions
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Learning can be accomplished through many methods, including by reading and attending lectures. But for those who want an immersive learning experience, the Visit D.C. group may be what they’re looking for.
Under the Lifelong Learning umbrella, Visit D.C. is headed up by Steve Ayraud, who plans a monthly trip for both Lifelong Learning and community members to participate in. Each trip visits a museum, monument or festival in the District of Columbia, and, outside of the cost of lunch and travel expenses, is usually free.
“Everyone goes up by the MARC train, and then meets up together to go to a free museum. Often we make lunch a special event, and we can get a fixed lunch fee for some great places,” Ayraud said, mentioning the group took its first trip in March 2016. “We’ve been to many places, but we’re open to ideas of places where people would want to go, as long as they’re open to mass transit. It’s really a group decision.”
Yesterday, the group took their monthly trip, visiting the National Gallery of Art and stopping at Pavilion Cafe for lunch. Typically, the group takes the 6:40 a.m. Duffields station MARC train into Washington, D.C. together, and then members individually decide which afternoon or evening train to take home.
The two limitations on trip destinations are with places that are not within walking distance of public transportation and with places that require prior information about the group’s members.
“There’s no obligation to show up from those who plan to come on the trips, but that can be good and bad. It does allow people to feel free,” Ayraud said. “However, it precludes us from making lunch or dinner reservations . . . and it does prevent us from going to places like the Pentagon or White House or Congress, because you have to provide drivers license information for each.”
According to Lifelong Learning Director Karen Rice, this informal approach to the trips makes it easy for trip members to incorporate immersive education into their lives.
“I really enjoy it, because it motivates me and takes away any excuse that I have not to go – all I have to do is set my alarm and get up,” Rice said, mentioning opening the Visit D.C. group up to the public is one way Lifelong Learning is helping community members meet like-minded people.
“It allows you to be around different people who are curious and thinkers,” Rice said. “It helps you reach out and make social connections.”
For more information about the Visit D.C. group, email Ayraud at firstname.lastname@example.org.