Summer is arguably a time to relax and in some cases, vacation to exotic places. But for those whose vacation is where they live -- otherwise known as a "staycation" -- it can include family adventures sought in ones own backyard.

Luckily for Valley residents, there is Cal-Folk.

Los Alamos-based Cal-Folk, short for "California Folk School," is steeped in 150-year-old Denmark tradition.

According to the school, folk -- as in "people" -- schools came from Denmark to the U.S. in the early 1900s and spread across the East Coast and Midwest. Very few of these schools made it west of the Mississippi River -- except for one particular California settlement, Atterdag Folk School in Solvang. This "school for life" that exemplified Danish tradition, ran from 1911 to 1957.

Cal-Folk owners/operators Jenn and Jon Hooten, said they draw from these old customs to build a community where teaching and learning through classes and community events, like traditional arts, crafts and cooking are the cornerstones.

"We're passionate about the power and possibilities of community. If our household had a mission statement, it would include something about hospitality, open doors, and sharing a meal and conversation around our big outdoor farm table," they said.

Cal-Folk Summer Schedule:

Sat, Jul 07: 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. "Leather-craft Basics: Stamping" Learn leather stamping techniques while making vegetable tanned coasters. Event located at Cooper Saddlery, Buellton

Sat, Jul 14: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. "Canning Your Backyard Bounty" Using locally sourced fruit, explore both sweet and savory options for one of the world's oldest food preservation practices. Event located at Los Alamos Senior Center, 690 Bell St., Los Alamos

Sat, Jul 21: 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. "Artisan Soap" Learn to make small batch soaps like you see at the farmer's market. Event located at Bedford Winery, 448 Bell St, Los Alamos

Sat, Jul 21: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. "Playing the Blues" Life got you down? Learn to play the blues! Contact for Los Alamos-based location.

Sun, Jul 22: 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. "The Art of Listening" Step off the grid for a day and expand the way you listen to yourself and others. Contact for Santa Ynez Valley-based location.

Sat, Jul 28: 9 a.m. to Jul 29, 12 p.m. "Bread Boards & Pizza Peels" Design and finish your own bread board or Pizza Peel in this two-day class. Contact for Los Alamos-based location.

Sat, Aug 04: 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. "Birds & Breakfast" A beginning bird watching experience with gentle hiking, bird identification, and a hearty breakfast. Contact for Santa Ynez Valley-based location.

The school is based in Los Alamos, though some classes are offered at various sites within Santa Barbara County. For more information about classes and events, email LearnStuff@Cal-Folk.com; contact at 805-635-7315 or visit www.cal-folk.com. Class fees vary and go to pay instructors and cover event costs.

This story was compiled by Santa Ynez Valley News Lifestyle Editor, Lisa André. You can follow her on twitter @LAndreSYVNews

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