Mason County Senior Activity Center

My first exposure to the Mason County Senior Activities Association began when I was searching for an office chair and looked up Shelton thrift shops. The Nifty Thrifty page came up under the Mason County Senior Activities Association website.  Since I am new to the area, I decided to check out both the thrift store and the senior center (even though I'm only 56).

The Nifty Thrifty is what you'd expect a good community thrift store to be with the added bonus of being run by, and for the benefit of the Mason County Senior Activities Association.  There was quite a wide selection of inventory, as one might imagine, since seniors have often spent their long lives acquiring stuff according to their widely varying tastes and interests.

After browsing around for about 10 minutes, I decided I'd make a run out to the Mason County Senior Activities Center to see part of what the thrift store was supporting.

The 16000 square foot building is located west of downtown Shelton, WA, kind of tucked away behind the Gillis Auto Center,   at The Pavilion, 190 W. Sentry Drive. It's a big place. As you walk in the big double doors in front, you pass the reception area immediately on your left. Volunteers are usually right there to assist visitors with their questions or to sign up new members. 

I wasn't sure this was a place for me, since I'm only 56, even though their official policy is "50 or better." For some reason, the front reception area was quite busy at the time, so one of the volunteers walked me back to the great room that houses most of the many activities such as: yoga, tai chi, card games, bingo, karaoke, line dancing, ballroon dancing, mah jong, Mexican Train Dominoes, lunches and various holiday parties.

I was introduced to Jill who was working as the hostess in the bar area (non alcoholic except on special occasions and events). Her job at the time was taking care of the many people playing Mexican Train dominoes, seeing that they had coffee and other refreshments at the ready and generally providing for their needs. Jill walked me over to a table and introduced me to each person siting around the table. Everyone was quite friendly and cheerful, heartily inviting me to join the table and the game. Their good cheer and enthusiasm reminded me of the seniors in the swimming pool in the movie Cocoon. I politely declined their invitation and retired back to the bar area with Jill to casually chat about the center, its events and membership. When she told me membership was only $30 a year I was amazed.  From all the activities we talked about, the many services and the wonderful facility in which to gather and socialize, I would have thought annual membership would be much higher. I'm not going to say how much because I don't want to spoil a good thing by giving anyone ideas.

So I went back the following day and joined. For $30 I figured I couldn't go far wrong it I only took advantage of the facilities and the programs once or twice. After I filled out my membership info and got my card, a group of high-spirited folks were walking out together and invited me to join them on a hike at someplace called Staircase in the Olympic National Park. I had someplace to be so I regretfully declined but asked for a rain check.

Today I cashed my rain check by joining the Tuesday morning walking group in a hike in the Nisqually National Wildlife Area. The group of 19 hikers split up into a few different vehicles carpooling from the senior center to the park and we re-assembled at the visitor center of the park before hitting the trail.

It was a very pleasant, if somewhat overcast day, perfect for a nature stroll. As we walked past a marshy area, our attention was attracted to a duck thrashing around in the water. At first we assumed it was ducks mating or something, but there was only the one hen duck and we could not determine what was causing her to thrash around so. Eventually, we saw the situation clearly - a mink was slinking around on the bank, most likely in pursuit of the mother duck's chicks or eggs, and she was doing the broken wing ploy to try to draw the predator's attention away from her brood.  I was moved by sadness for her plight and admiration for her efforts to save her offspring. Less than 5 minutes into the walk and my heart was melted.

As we went along, different people walked whatever pace they found suitable for their mood and/or fitness level. It was fun talking to different trail partners as we went along. I estimate we were in the park for about 2 hours before leaving to meet up for lunch at a nearby burger place. More conversation and a welcome meal to satisfy the appetites we had worked up. The a nice drive back to the center with more conversation before a fond farewell to new friends in the senior center's parking lot.

I'd say I got my money's worth on the membership today - but don't tell them that!


The Mason County Senior Activities Association is a 501(c)( 3) non-profit charitable organization and donations can be tax deductible.

Mason County Senior Activities Association
Street address: 190 W. Sentry Drive 
Mailing address:
PO Box 1066
Shelton, WA 98584