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'Senior Adventures' makes Pasco debut

Participants choose from eight activities, called "adventures." The idea is to provide a fun learning experience.

By CHASE SQUIRES

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 13, 2000


DADE CITY -- Scores of Pasco County seniors took part in Friday's first-ever "Senior Adventures in Pasco" series of educational seminars and tours in an event organizers hope to expand and offer as another asset to the county.

The program was developed by Leadership Pasco members in conjunction with Saint Leo University and other sponsors as a way to provide a fun learning experience for senior citizens eager to spend a day expanding their horizons.

"It's a new idea, a new and different way to promote Pasco," said Bill Aycrigg, a Leadership Pasco alumnus and co-chairman of the event. "We've got a population that in some ways is not given enough attention. They're here, they're active consumers, they have resources and time, but they're somewhat taken for granted."

The day started with breakfast at Saint Leo University and the keynote address from nationally recognized expert on the politics of senior voters, Susan MacManus. Her presentation on "The Graying of Florida" discussed the huge changes ahead in politics and in life as the Baby Boom generation ages.

After the address, participants chose from eight activities, called "adventures," that included a tour of the J.B. Starkey Flatwoods Adventures ecotour, a golf clinic, a lecture on history, a cultural visit to the Native American Mother's Day Pow Wow, and a tour of historic places in Dade City. Seniors also had opportunities to study computers and the Internet and tour Saint Leo University.

The idea of offering stimulating activities for seniors is a growing trend, MacManus said. At the University of South Florida, where she is a professor, MacManus said many of her students are in retirement.

"They enjoy learning," she said. "There isn't the pressure of a grade. They are learning because they want to."

Aycrigg said the Pasco program is modeled after the popular international elder hostel movement, which links traveling seniors with study opportunities.

About 65 seniors signed up for Friday's experiment.

"It's a great way to meet people. It's great," said Lea Mahoney of Port Richey. She gave her age as "over 39."

Another couple, Arnold and Mary Perales, 80 and 77 respectively, looked forward at visiting the Pow Wow, outside Dade City.

"It's a pleasure to get out and see some of this," Mary Perales said.

Others toured the restored old County Courthouse downtown, with County Commissioner Sylvia Young as their guide. The crowd peered into the working offices and commented on the extensive refurbishing and collection of antiques and prints inside.

"There's a whole new generation of retirees," MacManus said in her opening presentation. "They don't want a slow game of shuffleboard in the sun. They see themselves as far too young to slow down."

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