From the mountains of Scotland to the sandy beaches off Hawaii’s coast, Wisconsin Alumni Association travelers have taken in some of the most fantastic sights in the world. But the experience of reconnecting with old friends, and making new ones, is what pushes a pair of Super Travelers to hit the road time and again.
WAA member and frequent traveler Sandy Kampen says friends are why she has booked a total of 33 trips over the past few decades. “I value the wonderful friendships I’ve made meeting people on my travels with WAA,” Kampen said. “Many of the same people travel with WAA, so you get to know everyone pretty well, and many of us get together during the off-season, too.”
Kampen, an enthusiastic football fan, has made the trek to dozens of games with WAA, including three Rose Bowls, the 2010 match-up between Wisconsin and UNLV, and three trips to Hawaii. Kampen fondly recalls the beautiful scenery in Maui and Oahu, where she snapped more than 2,000 photos. And on Thanksgiving Day in 2005, she attended Don Ho’s final performance before he passed away a short time later.
But most of Kampen’s favorite memories involve her fellow Badgers. She describes the accommodations as wonderful, and often entertaining. “It’s always fun staying in the team hotel, interacting with the coaches and players up close and personal,” Kampen said. “The welcome breakfasts or dinners always end up being a great time for drinks, food, laughs, and conversation.”
On an excursion to see the Badgers play in the Sun Bowl in 2000, Kampen recalls “an excellent steak dinner and hayride. We didn’t know if we were going into Mexico, but had such a good time singing with (WAA Vice President of Programs and Outreach) Jeff Wendorf ’82, we didn’t care. Whether attending a bowl trip or a regular-season away game,” Kampen said, “it’s always a fun adventure.”
Don Meier ‘63 says he enjoys time spent with fellow alumni and WAA staff, and catching up with Badgers he’s met on past outings. He and his wife, Jeannie ‘64, match Kampen in the total number of WAA tours over the years, and he says he likes traveling with the Wisconsin Alumni Association “because it maintains the connections with the UW. We enjoy the new people we meet, as well as old friends.”
Meier says he appreciates the planning that goes into tours like these, and personally recommends WAA travel to friends. “We tend to look at travel opportunities as they come up and decide if that is a country or region on our bucket list,” he said. “We have not had one bad trip with the Wisconsin Alumni Association.”
Meier lists vacations to Switzerland, Hawaii, and two back-to-back Rose Bowls among his favorites, and says he enjoys what he calls the Wisconsin Spirit when tailgating. “There is nothing like still being able to feel the connection with the university while cheering on the team,” he said. “I don’t think being at a pro football game can compare to the connection you have with the UW team.”