Nestled in the Appalachians, the John Campbell school provides adults an extraordinary chance to learn a variety of folk arts. I recently took Shaker basketmaking and broommaking from JoAnn Kelly Cotsos, a nationally recognized basketmaker who has even had one of her baskets displayed at the Smithsonian's Renwick museum in Washington DC. JoAnn navigated us through the construction of several beautiful baskets and brooms, which look far better than anything I could reasonably afford to buy. It was a weird feeling, as my fellow classmates and I became almost addicted to the basketmaking process, working late into the evening and early morning hours. At the end of the week, all of the classes exhibited their respective projects, and I was jealous of all of them. Beautifully crafted shaker tables, shaker boxes, and blacksmithed door latches, represent a small sample of the projects that the students would undoubtedly display with pride once they get home.
The lodging was simple, but clean and adequate (forget about TV's, radios and computers...at first I felt withdrawal from these "conveniences", but by the end of the week I came to appreciate the luxury of the simple quiet life at John Campbell). And speaking of life, the staff at John Campbell strives to provides a relaxing and memorable experience, through music, singalongs, presentations and shows. And then there are the delicious meals, served family style where you can meet others at the school.
If you are looking for a vacation where you are pampered in a spa, then this is definately NOT for you. But, if you are looking for a unique experience that will truly enrich your soul, John Campbell's is the perfect destination. I've already signed up for another course at John Campbell.