By Jeff Jefcoat, F118344
In mid-March, 3,982 motorhomes “” consisting of 2,778 family coaches and 1,204 exhibitor coaches “” gathered at Fairplex in Pomona, California, for FMCA’s 69th International Convention, which was dubbed California Dreamin’. Beautiful weather; a fantastic facility; and, of course, the wonderful FMCA family and commercial members who attended provided the ingredients for another successful FMCA event. Special thanks go out to the many volunteers who gave of their time and talents to ensure that their fellow members had a great time in Pomona. Thanks also to our commercial member supporters, and to members of the Convention Committee and the FMCA staff involved in planning and implementing the convention. Last but certainly not least, thanks to all of you who joined us for the event. Written and pictorial coverage of the California Dreamin’ convention begins on page 98 of this issue of the magazine.
The traditionally festive, happy-go-lucky atmosphere of the convention was overshadowed by the fact that the war in Iraq started to unfold just as convention activities were beginning, prompting us to consider all the more the liberties that we motorhome owners enjoy as we travel freely throughout North America and beyond. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of our troops involved in the conflict in the Middle East as well as to their families. I’m sure many FMCA members have loved ones involved.
Shuffle Off To Buffalo
FMCA will be taking members coast to coast with our conventions this year. In mid-July, we’ll head to the East Coast as we “Shuffle Off To Buffalo” for our 70th International Convention. Registration for this summer event currently is under way. Remember, because of parking limitations at the Erie County Fairgrounds and the off-site parking lots we’ll be using at Ralph Wilson Stadium, home of the Buffalo Bills, family motorhome registration will be limited to 5,000 coaches for this convention. So, be sure to sign up early. As usual, you can register online at FMCA.com or sign up by phone, fax, or mail using the registration form that appears on pages 176 A and B in this issue of the magazine.
In order to whet your appetite for what is to come, this month’s issue of the magazine includes a story about Buffalo, New York, and its many attractions “” not the least of which is Niagara Falls, which lies about 20 minutes north of Buffalo. This story, titled “The Best of Buffalo “” And Beyond,” starts on page 134. A story titled “New York’s Champlain Corridor,” beginning on page 148, describes a route that traces New York’s historic Champlain Canal and Lake Champlain. A little farther afield but still worthy of consideration as a pre- or post-convention side trip is Prince Edward Island. A story that focuses especially on this Canadian province’s capital city begins on page 156.
Another thing to look forward to in Buffalo is the culmination of FMCA’s 40th Anniversary Membership Recruitment Contest and the awarding of the 2003 Chrysler PT Cruiser, as well as the other prizes involved. It’s not too late to get your name in the hopper! FMCA members who recruit a fellow motorhome owner for paid membership in FMCA between August 15, 2002, and June 30, 2003, will be eligible to win the grand prize PT Cruiser; one of three $1,000 cash prizes; or one of six 14-karat-gold motorhome charms. In addition, each new paid member recruited during this time period will be eligible to win either a 41-day Alaska caravan trip for two in 2004 or a post-Mardi Gras 2004 Caribbean cruise for two, courtesy of Creative World Rallies & Caravans, C1350. The drawing for these prizes will take place on Sunday, July 20, during the annual membership meeting. Members need not be present at the convention to win; however, the winner of the PT Cruiser will need to take delivery of the vehicle in Buffalo. Additional information about the contest appears on pages 55 and 192 of this issue.
Take a walk down memory lane with us in Buffalo as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the founding of FMCA in the Northeast Area. The FMCA families who converged on Hinckley, Maine, in 1963 and decided to form an association for motorhome owners held their first meeting on July 20, which, in a bit of serendipity, will coincide with the final day of this year’s convention in Buffalo. The official formation of FMCA took place on July 21, 1963.
We owe a debt of gratitude to these founding families, who laid a solid foundation for FMCA and helped to ensure that the association would continue to meet the needs of motorhome owners for many years to come. In the past four decades, we have witnessed tremendous growth and changes in FMCA and in the motorhome industry. Even though the industry and FMCA have evolved, it is interesting to note that the basic principles on which these motorhome owners founded our great association continue to guide us today.
That provides a nice lead-in to my next topic, which is the good news that FMCA’s revised Constitution and Bylaws, the documents that provide our structure, have been adopted.
Revised Constitution and Bylaws
In the November 2002 issue of FMC magazine, the revised FMCA Constitution was published along with a mail ballot to allow the FMCA membership to cast their vote regarding this new document. In January 2003, the votes were tallied, and it was announced that the FMCA membership had approved the revised Constitution, with 94.4 percent of the ballots returned in favor of the revisions and 5.6 percent opposed. Once this was accomplished, the revised Bylaws were mailed to the Governing Board for a vote via mail ballot. The revised Bylaws passed by a similar margin: 92.7 percent to 7.3 percent.
A simple majority of votes returned by the FMCA membership is required for approval of the Constitution, whereas an approval rate of 65 percent of ballots cast by Governing Board members is required for passage of the Bylaws. The new Constitution and Bylaws are now in effect.
Many FMCA members from various committees contributed to the development of these two important documents. We need to thank each person who volunteered his or her time on this project, as well as express our gratitude to FMCA staff members who dedicated their time and efforts. It is good to see these revisions nearing conclusion.
We are now in the final phase of revising FMCA’s governance documents. Work continues on the former Bylaws items that are now being developed as approximately 55 policies and procedures that will become part of the Member and Volunteer Handbook. The Policies and Procedures document also is sometimes known as a collection of “standing rules.”
A very dedicated group of five people make up the Constitution and Bylaws/Policy and Procedure Committee: co-chairman Jim Phillips, F158824; co-chairman Mary Elizabeth Preston, F51004; Phil Griffin, F128165; John Kelley, L6562; and Ginger Painter, F23514. They are now working to make sure the Policies and Procedures document is complete.
The material being added to the Policies and Procedures comes from the former Bylaws. As much as possible, it was moved from the Bylaws to the Policies and Procedures verbatim. Some wording was changed for consistency and clarification.
The proposed Policies and Procedures will be mailed to the Governing Board for their review prior to the convention in Buffalo and then will be voted on during the Governing Board meeting on July 16 and 17, just prior to the start of the FMCA convention.
I encourage you to read the new, revised FMCA Bylaws, which begin on page 262 of this magazine. The new Constitution is that which appeared in the November 2002 issue of the magazine, beginning on page 266, with one minor correction in Article II (Family Membership), Paragraph 6. In that paragraph, Article XII was identified as the cross-reference for dealing with amendments to the Constitution, but the reference should have been to Article X. After reading these documents, you’ll better understand FMCA’s goals and membership standards, and appreciate this fine organization all the more.
Once again, I extend my personal thanks to each person who has and is continuing to contribute toward finalizing these most important documents.
New York Offers Prepaid Toll Passes
If you plan to travel to Buffalo, New York, for FMCA’s convention this July, you may want to consider purchasing a prepaid toll road pass from E-ZPass. E-ZPass electronic toll collection system works on the New York State Thruway and on other roads in the Northeast.
Once you are enrolled in the E-ZPass system, you are given an electronic tag that attaches to the windshield of your vehicle. When your vehicle passes through a designated E-ZPass toll lane, the toll is automatically calculated and deducted from your prepaid account. The E-ZPass does not discount your toll; however, it does offer a faster way to go through the toll areas and eliminates the hassle of hunting for change, cash, or tokens each time you pass through the tolls.
The E-ZPass also can be used on the New Jersey Turnpike, the Garden State Parkway (in New Jersey), several New York Port Authority bridges and tunnels that lead to and from Manhattan, and select toll roads in several other northeastern states. To learn more about the E-ZPass, or to enroll, phone (800) 333-8655 or visit the E-ZPass Web site, www.e-zpassNY.com. More E-ZPass information also is available at www.FMCA.com ; click on “Conventions,” then Buffalo 2003.