Among major services of the many senior centers and clubs in the metropolitan area are the trips and excursions they sponsor to local places of interest and farther afield in the United States and abroad.
Scheduled trips for Montgomery County seniors are described in Highlights, published monthly by the Department of Recreation. This publication is available at the various Senior Citizens Centers. For the location nearest you call the Division of Elder Affairs at 279-1487. City of Rockville residents can call Hot Line at 424-8853 for any information concerning Senior Citizens Services.
Trips and excursions are also provided by the Jewish Council for the Aging of Greater Washington, telephone 881-8782. This service is area wide and includes the availability of one vehicle tha tcan accommodate wheelchairs.
In Prince George's County trips of all kinds are arranged by the Department of Services and Programs for the Aging, telephone 350-0650. Announcements of coming trips and other events are made in the departments's monthly publication, Senior Citizen, available by susbcription for $2 a year.
In all cases trips and excursions require advance reservations in order to secure buses and to arrange destination accommodations at minimum cost. Most trips are over-subscribed so early reservation is advised.
One of Montgomery County's more ambitious excursions is a trip to Wildwood, N.J., planned for Sept. 26-30. The cost is $120, all inclusive - the beach, boardwalk, movies, tram car, meals and lodging at the Royal Plaza. Even medical care if available on the air conditioned bus.
Montgomery County provides their mini-buses at nominal cost for short trips during the day to places like the Library of Congress, the Supreme Court and museums and galleries.
Barbara Dahlman, direction of the Forest Glen Senlor Center, who has served as leader for a number of trips, admits that arrangements take a great deal of work but has no doubt about the value of trips. "Many of our participants have worked all of their lives previously and had little time for travel. Now they have time, but many cannot drive or are alone with little incentive. On these trips there is good fellowship and the sharing of enjoyment. It is common for the group to join in song on the homeward trip," she said.
In Prince George's County, according to Stewart Seavey, who coordinates transportation, "any group of county seniors, usually from a senior center or club, who desire a trip within a 50-mile radius will be accommodated if at all possible." For such restricted area trips, regular senior citizens buses are used with a charge of $4 per hour. When enough travelers are involved the pro rate charge may be less than a dollar per person.
On longer trips private charter buses are used with charges calculated to cover costs. Such trips are usually initiated by one of the many seniors clubs in the county. Last month the Cedar Heights club took an overnight trip to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania. The all-inclusive cost was $65 per person. Thirty-six persons took the trip, according to Morris Levy, president of the club. Members of other clubs were included because trips are usually announced in the Senior Citizen monthly tabloid.
"Everyone loved it; most would otherwise remain confined to their homes. They can't wait to plan another trip," said Levy.
Individual clubs in the county are represented on the Council of Senior Citizens Clubs where activities are reviewed and larger undertakings planned, including some trips abroad.
Recently Montgomery County received an offer of 600 free circus tickets for seniors, but with only two days notice. On such an occasion the usual months-in-advance planning is out of the question. Dahlman said that with nonstop effort by many people, 576 places were filled, transportation arranged and trip leaders provided. The response seems also to be a testimony to the sometimes questioned adaptability of older persons.