This article appeared in the July 16, 2010 Jewish Advocate.
All the adventure, none of the hassles:
JCC Senior Trips offer it all
By Susie Davidson
Special to the Advocate
What moves you? Whether it’s ballet, classical sounds at Tanglewood, bargain hunting, gambling, theater, sightseeing, good food or socializing, there’s a seat on the bus for you.
As travel lovers know, it isn’t just the destination, or the “need to get away.” Travel opens your horizons, refreshes your routine, provides unforgettable experiences and might just make you appreciate your home base more. The JCC Travel Club offers abundant choices, and you don’t even need to be a member.
“Anybody can come,” said Lillian Mamon, speaking on her cell phone while en route to the Berkshires. “Some people bring a companion, some take a daughter or son, and some travel alone.”
Mamon, who lives in Newton, has coordinated the club since joining the JCC’s Senior Adult staff in 1985. At that time, it offered trips to kosher hotels in Florida and the Catskills. She has expanded trips to include more day excursions and a greater variety of overnight destinations.
Recent trips have included Foxwoods Casino; Adams National Historic Park and the Venezia Waterfront Restaurant; the Ogunquit Theatre and lunch at Jonathan’s Restaurant; a Fenway Park Tour with lunch at Boston Beer Works; the Newport Playhouse; and a whale watch with lunch at Durgin Park. On a trip to New York, the club saw “The Addams Family,” starring Nathan Lane, and “South Pacific.”
Upcoming: an Aug. 25 Berkshires overnight trip, which includes Jacob’s Pillow and the Berkshires Theatre Festival; and an Aug. 3-5 escape to the White Mountains at the Valley Inn in Waterville Valley, with “Camelot” Summer Theatre, an “On Golden Pond” cruise and the Tanger shopping outlets in Tilton.
Further out, the group will explore Jewish Charleston, S.C., and Savannah, Ga., Nov. 9-14; a trek to northern Africa in February for the Jewish Spirit of Morocco; and a Jewish Mission trip to Cuba in March.
And of course, there’s the annual Catskills Vacation next week, from July 26-30, at Kutsher’s Resort.
“Lillian is the best organizer,” said Ruth Block of Southborough, who has participated for eight years. “The seats to performances are always good. You can see and hear everything.”
Emma Elmont of Norwood likes that the trips “are all-inclusive, and we have the ability to pick and choose.”
“I like anything educational, artistic, and cultural,” said art teacher Dorothy Adelman of Newton. Her favorite is the Berkshires trip, where the group stays in Great Barrington, attends a Tanglewood concert and visits the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown.
“Playing cards is not the sort of thing that I do,” said Shirley Green of Framingham, who learned about the trips through the MetroWest JCC. Green only goes on overnight trips, as she has already been to the day trip sites. She, too, raved about the Berkshires trip. But for her, the “pièce de résistance is the final day’s destination, the ballet in Saratoga.
For those from southern suburbs, the trips have helped fill the gap left by the Striar JCC’s 2009 closing in Stoughton.
“A group of us were members of the exercise classes, and attended their lectures,” Elmont said. She and her pals now leave their cars in Canton and hop a shuttle bus sent by Mamon, or the main bus if the destination is the Cape or Providence. “Most of us don’t want to drive into Boston anymore, or on Route 128, or through the Providence rotaries,” said Elmont.
“The pace is leisurely,” said Mamon. “There’s no mountain climbing or rock climbing, and we stay in elevator buildings. But still the people are active, and the trips are lively.”
She added that wheelchairs can be arranged for segments of the trips.
What happens on the bus? “We chat, and Lillian talks about upcoming trips,” said Block. For long trips, Mamon brings movies, though the atmosphere doesn’t sound particularly dull.
“Our people come from the South Shore, North Shore, Brookline, Newton and the Western suburbs,” said Mamon. “Most have grown up in the Dorchester area and renew acquaintances on the trips.”
Participants also broaden their social circles. “It is gratifying to see friendships develop between women and women, men and women, and couples and couples,” Mamon added. “Many continue their friendships by socializing, and planning to go on additional trips.”
Stanley Halpern of Framingham noticed that only a small portion of the travelers were male. “I said to Lillian, ‘Don’t seat me next to any men,’” he recalled.
Halpern, who had worked in sales and merchandising, decided to expand his horizons after his wife died. “I got more active at my temple,” he said, “and Lillian encouraged me to join the travel group.”
Halpern wound up meeting his significant other on a trip to the North Shore Music Theatre and lunch at the Danversport Yacht Club.
Tanglewood is also his favorite trip. “There are two overnights, a concert, a museum and time off, and I’m a bridge player, and we also play bridge,” he said.
Halpern prefers the longer getaways to day trips. “Those can be too quick to get much out of them,” he said.
Travel Club members receive discounts on trips and tour fees, as well as the club’s bimonthly dinners and brunches. Other perks include discounts on JCC events, Boston Jewish Book Fair programs, adult learning classes, merchandise at Shuki’s gift shop inside the Leventhal-Sidman JCC and two passes to the JCC gym. Annual membership is $12 for JCC members and $25 for nonmembers. For information, visit www.lsjcc.org/home/seniors_jcct.html, email email@example.com, or call 617-558-6448.