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The American Presidency: Success, Failure, Character and Leadership

Program Number: 18495RJ
Start and End Dates:
5/28/2013 - 5/31/2013; 5/26/2015 - 5/29/2015; 10/19/2015 - 10/22/2015;
Duration: 3 nights
Location: Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia
Price starting at: $489.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Political Science
Meals: 9; 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners    
Meal Options: Gluten Free; Low Salt; Low Fat; Vegetarian    

Arguing the merits of America’s presidents is one of our most popular national pastimes. Through discussions with an expert historian, augmented by video clips and other media, examine why some presidents are revered as legends while others go down in history as failures, and discuss what has or hasn’t worked when it comes to choosing directions for the country.




Highlights

• Consider political buzzwords such as “leadership” and “character” to gain a sense of their meaning in the context of the presidency.
• Analyze what effect issues such as marital infidelity, substance abuse, or dishonesty have on a president’s capacity to lead.
• Take a field trip to Poplar Forest, Thomas Jefferson’s personal retreat.



Activity Particulars

Walking up to 300 feet at a time and standing up to one hour.




Date Specific Information

5-28-2013

Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.



Coordinated by Smith Mountain Lake 4-H Educational Center.




Smith Mountain Lake

This popular destination, often called the "Jewel of the Blue Ridge Mountains," comprises 500 miles of shoreline within a historic three-county region that includes Jefferson's "Poplar Forest" retreat and the birthplace of Booker T. Washington.



Accommodations
Modern conference center on the shores of Smith Mountain Lake; Wireless internet access throughout the entire 4-H Center campus.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Peter Coogan

Dr. Peter Coogan is an associate professor of history at Hollins University in Roanoke, Va., and teaches a number of courses on recent trends in American history, the Civil Rights Movement and WWII history. He has published numerous articles on American espionage for the Historical Encyclopedia, and is working on a book about President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Dr. Coogan received his B.A. in history from Duke University and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
 
Leonard Adkins

Often referred to as "The Habitual Hiker,” Leonard Adkins has walked more than 30,000 miles through the wilderness and backcountry areas of the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean, Europe and Iceland. He has hiked the entire length of Appalachian Trail five times and is the author of several books on hiking. In the off-season he publishes photographs and writes articles for various publications such as Backpacker, Caribbean Travel and Life, Wonderful West Virginia and Colorado Daily.
 
Jim Baldwin

Jim Baldwin is a descendent of the founder of the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency, a private detective agency that played a vital role in the Appalachian region at the turn of the 20th century. Jim holds a bachelor’s in music and religion from the University of Richmond, and is a well-known choral director and musician in the Roanoke Valley. He has worked at Virginia's Explore Park, the National D-Day Memorial, and was development director for the Brain Injury Services of Southwest Virginia.
 
April Cheek-Messier

April Cheek-Messier served as the director of education at the D-Day Memorial since January, 2001 — six months prior to its dedication in June, 2001 - until her appointment as Director of the Memorial in early 2013. She holds a B.A. in history and English from Hollins University, as well as an M.A. in history from Virginia Tech and a M.A. in education from Hollins. She is a 2004 recipient of the prestigious Virginia Attraction Employee of the Year and is a member of the Virginia Association of Museums and the National Council for History Education.
 
Betsy Haynes

Betsy Haynes is a park ranger at the Booker T. Washington National Monument in Virginia. She began her career with the National Park Service there as a volunteer in 1987 and became a full-time employee in 1990. Betsy has also served as a firefighter during fires in a number of national parks and has served as a National Park Service public information officer. She earned her degree in historic preservation at the University of Mary Washington.
 
Bill Barker

Bill Barker has portrayed Thomas Jefferson in a variety of venues since his first appearance at Independence Hall in Philadelphia in 1984. He has continued to appear as Jefferson for Colonial Williamsburg as well as the White House, Versailles, ABC, CBS, PBS, CNN and stage productions of the musical, 1776. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Bill received a B.A. in history from Villanova University and attended the University of Pennsylvania. He has been portraying Jefferson for Road Scholar programs for over a decade.
 
Meals and Lodgings
   Smith Mountain Lake 4-H Educational Conference Center
  Smith Mountain Lake, VA 3 nights
 Smith Mountain Lake 4-H Educational Conference Center
Type: Conference Center
  Contact info: 775 Hermitage Rd.
Wirtz, VA 24184 USA
phone: 540-721-2759 xext264
web: www.skelton4hcenter.org
  Room amenities: Each room is equipped with a dresser and abundant shelf/closet space, a table and two chairs for relaxing/reading. Table lamps and a clock radio are provided in each guest room.
  Facility amenities: The Smith Mountain Lake 4-H Educational Conference Center is a modern, multi-purpose conference facility. Up to 400 people can gather in the Center's dining and auditorium facility and/or meet in our 12 meeting rooms. In addition, we offer two picnic shelters, basketball, volleyball and tennis courts, horseshoes, mini-golf course, campfire circle, amphitheater campfire, sports fields, nature trails and a beautiful scene from the shoreline gazebo and deck. The Center has 57 lodging rooms with private baths than can sleep up to 228 people. We offer a quiet, peaceful setting which provides our Road Scholar guests the opportunity to focus on the coursework for the week and the time to get to know one another in greater depth.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Additional nights prior: $50-$60 Lodging may be available before and/or after each program begins. Please contact Dennis Crowley at 540-721-2759, ext. 264 to make arrangements.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: $50-$60 Lodging may be available before and/or after each program begins. Please contact Dennis Crowley at 540-721-2759, ext. 264 to make arrangements.
  Check out time: 12:00 PM


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Taubman Conference Center - 3 PM You will be staying at Smith Mountain Lake 4-H Educational Conference Center that night.
  End of Program:
Taubman Conference Center - Noon You will be staying at Smith Mountain Lake 4-H Educational Conference Center the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. Participants are required to complete and submit the Health and Safety form.
  Parking availability:
There is ample free parking available within 50 feet of lodging facilities.
Transportation
To Start of Program
  Location:  Smith Mountain Lake, VA
  Nearest city or town:  Roanoke, VA
  Nearest highway: US 220 which leads to I-81
  Nearest airport:  Roanoke, VA
  From End of Program
  Location: Smith Mountain Lake, VA
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details
 

Roanoke, VA

 

To Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Taxi
Yellow Cab
phone: 540-345-7711
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

Approximately $60 per cab
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

45 minutes 

 

Distance:

 

25 miles

   

Very often, participants are able to obtain return transportation to the Roanoke, VA airport with fellow Participants they have met during the program; however, if this is not an option, additional transportation providers available to the Roanoke airport include: Liberty Cab - 540-344-1776, Prestige Limo - 540-342-8049, Executive Limo - 540-366-4644, Airport Limo - 540-345-7710

 

Roanoke, VA

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Taxi
Yellow Cab
phone: 540-345-7711
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

Approximately $60
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

45 minutes 

 

Distance:

 

25 miles

   

Additional transportation providers available from the Roanoke airport include: Liberty Cab - 540-344-1776, Prestige Limo - 540-342-8049, Executive Limo - 540-366-4644, Airport Limo - 540-345-7710

 
Driving Directions
  Roanoke, VA From I-81 take exit 143 - I-581 220 (220 South) through Roanoke and then Boones Mill (approximately 13 miles from Roanoke) - being careful to avoid the speed traps continually in operation along this route - to the traffic light at Wirtz Road (Route 697). A Dairy Queen and an Exxon station will be on the corner on your left. Turn left on Wirtz Road and follow this road for approximately 5 miles to a stop sign. At the stop sign turn left on to Booker T. Washington Highway (Route 122). Go ahead 1 mile to Burnt Chimney Road (Route 670) and take a hard right onto 670. Follow this road for 7 miles to Lovely Valley Road (Route 668) - you'll start to see small green signs directing to the 4-H Center - and take a right onto Lovely Valley Road. Follow this road for 1 mile to the stop sign. Turn right onto Crafts Ford Road (Route 944) - go approximately 1 1/2 miles to a sharp curve and turn left onto Hermitage Road (Route 669). Follow Hermitage Road to the Center - the Taubman Conference Center where registration is conducted is the first building on the left as you enter the Center grounds just past the cemetery. A map with detailed directions will be included in the Welcome packet you'll receive about 4 weeks prior to the beginning of the Road Scholar program.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Arrival/Center Tour/Dinner/Orientation and Introductions
(Tuesday, May 28)

Note: Our casual walking tour of the Center grounds will entail walking up and down a slight incline and standing for about 1/2 hour.



   
 Arrive To: Participants are welcome to arrive at the Center anytime after 1 PM; however, formal registration begins at 3 PM and extends until 5 PM. Refreshments are available in the Taubman Conference Center which is the first building on the left as you enter the Center grounds. You can use the time between when you check in and 5 PM to rest and relax because at 5 we'll begin an informal walking tour of the Center grounds which should last no more than 30 minutes.
 Dinner: Your first meal with us will be served in Smith Hall - the Center's administrative and dining facility. All meals are served in an "all you can eat" buffet style and we can accommodate low fat, low salt, vegetarian and Atkins diet devotees.
 Evening: Your Road Scholar Coordinator will begin the Orientation/Get Acquainted portion of the program promptly at 7 PM. We'll also view a 10 minute film which provides a good overview of Smith Mountain Lake itself. After a short break we'll gather together again for the get acquainted portion of the evening. Given past experience we should be through by 8:30 allowing you ample opportunity to rest up for the next day's activities.
   
Accommodations: Smith Mountain Lake 4-H Educational Conference Center
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Breakfast/Presidential Leadership/Lunch/Trip to and Tour of Booker T. Washington's Birthplace/Boat Trip on Smith Mountain Lake/Dinner/Movie "What About Bob?"
(Wednesday, May 29)

Note: On our tour of Booker T. Washington's Birthplace and National Monument participants should be able to walk a short distance and stand for approximately 45 minutes.



   
 Breakfast: Our first breakfast at the Center will begin at 7:30 AM - the buffet line will remain open until 8:15; however, as is usually the case, participants will typically arrive early to begin sampling the fare.
 Morning: From 8:45 until Noon we'll delve into the fascinating study of the American Presidents. We'll begin with a discussion of the nature of leadership and an assessment of the ratings of presidential "greatness". The Founding Fathers and Abraham Lincoln will form the core of our discussion
 Lunch: Lunch is served from Noon until 12:45 and everyone is urged to eat a hearty one since we'll be visiting Booker T. Washington's Birthplace and National Monument site this afternoon.
 Afternoon: It's just a short 15 minute ride to Booker T. Washington's Birthplace and National Monument where this prominent 19th and early 20th century African American educator and civil right pioneer was born into slavery in 1856. We'll view a 10 minute film on Washington's early life and then join a Park Ranger for a short walking trip of the Burroughs Plantation where Washington lived as a child. After the tour we'll see a more nuanced film detailing Washington's later years and the controversy between his views on integration as contrasted to those of W.E.B. DuBois. When President Teddy Roosevelt invited Washington to dinner at the White House he ignited a firestorm of protest which plunged Roosevelt into major political damage control. We'll then travel to a local marina to enjoy our boat trip on beautiful Smith Mountain Lake. We'll arrive back at the Center in time for diner at 5:30.
 Dinner: Dinner at 5:30.
 Evening: After a busy day it will be a nice change of pace to view the movie "What About Bob?" which was actually filmed at Smith Mountain Lake.
   
Accommodations: Smith Mountain Lake 4-H Educational Conference Center
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Breakfast/Presidential Leadership/Lunch/Trip to Poplar Forest/Dinner/Entertainment
(Thursday, May 30)

Note: During our fascinating tour of Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest participants should be able to walk a very short distance and stand for approximately 45 minutes.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at 7:30
 Morning: From 8:45 until Noon we'll review the leadership abilities and styles of Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt. During the discussions we'll focus on the issues of ideology in public policy as well as the controversies surrounding Wilson's illness and his wife's virtual assumption of the Presidency and Harding's many romantic "involvements" among other 1920's peccadillos.
 Lunch: Lunch at Noon.
 Afternoon: The trip to Poplar Forest is a relaxing hour's drive away. Upon our arrival we'll have an opportunity to view the grounds of Jefferson's home as well as the interior. Both venues provide ample evidence of Jefferson's brilliance in both horticulture and architecture. Since Poplar Forest is still undergoing restoration and renovation you'll have a unique opportunity to inspect the daily archaeological work taking place on site.
 Dinner: The last dinner at the Center at 5:30.
 Evening: The entertainment will leave you pleasantly surprised and finally mesmerized by the talent on display. Since you have a long trip home tomorrow, the show will conclude by 10 PM.
   
Accommodations: Smith Mountain Lake 4-H Educational Conference Center
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Breakfast/Room Checkout/Presidential Leadership/Lunch/Departure
(Friday, May 31)

Note: The morning session will be spent in the classroom.



   
 Breakfast: This is our last breakfast together, so try to get around to everyone's table to say goodbye since some participants with many miles to travel sometimes leave after breakfast.
 Morning: Our last session together will focus on the more recent Presidents such as JFK, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, the two Bushes, Bill Clinton, and our current President. There's a great deal of material here to cover and a number of great stories to tell so don't be late for class. Every President brings strengths and weaknesses to the job and sometimes the weaknesses seem to remain in the public's memory long after the strengths are lost to history. This phenomenon will be addressed and discussed during our last session together.
 Lunch: Our final meal together.
 Afternoon: Departure after Lunch. Have a safe trip home and come back to see us soon.
   
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


American Caesars


Author: Nigel Hamilton


Character Above All


Author: Robert A. Wilson


Greatness in the White House: Rating the Presidents


Author: Robert Murray & Tim Blessing


Revolutionary Characters


Author: Gordon Wood


The Imperial Presidency


Author: Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.


The Presidential Difference


Author: Fred Greenstein




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