By Tom and Joan Ainsley, F182814
A majority of FMCA members are volunteers. Whether they serve as national officers or help to put on a chapter rally, they like to give. FMCA could not operate without the dedication and hard work of its members. But volunteering is about more than just work “” it is great fun and gives us a sense of satisfaction in helping others.
These thoughts were the focus of a campfire discussion one evening in May 2003 at Humboldt Redwoods State Park in northern California. Jack and Pat Peyton, F199779; Larry and Denise Fosler, F232635; and the two of us are volunteers at the park. We were discussing the satisfaction of helping out at the park while enjoying the beauty of a truly world-class environment. Furthermore, we discussed the inquiries we received from park visitors as to how we were able to find such wonderful positions and how they might do the same. We knew there were many opportunities available to those who seek them out.
The discussion led to the idea of forming an FMCA chapter that focuses on the subject of volunteering in the public parks. No doubt many FMCA members have served at various federal, state, and local parks in a number of capacities while living in their motorhomes. And many more FMCAers likely would be interested in finding out more about these programs and where they are available.
On November 1, 2003, officers were elected, bylaws were adopted, and the Traveling VIP chapter was born. VIP, as you might guess, stands for “volunteers in parks.” The chapter charter was granted in December, and we are now off and running. Chapter rallies will take place in Northern California for the most part, to minimize driving distances. However, we will address additional areas that may be of interest to our members.
Our first chapter get-together took place at the Western Area Rally in Indio, California, in January 2004. As one might expect, we planned to volunteer at Indio, a perfect setting for our kickoff. FMCA national and Western Area officers also attended our informal meeting. In March we plan to hold our first chapter rally at a park that has a volunteer program. Park personnel will be invited to join with us to discuss their volunteer program and any other park programs they may know of. Food, fun, and fellowship also will be a major part of our gathering.
An abundance of volunteer positions are available in public parks, which must have volunteers to operate. Positions as campground hosts, visitors center hosts, docents, and other jobs are offered in many choice locations throughout the year. Whatever your interests are, there probably is a volunteer job that fits you well.
You don’t have to commit to be a volunteer to join the Traveling VIP chapter. The main purpose of the chapter is to exchange information and help each other pursue a dream. It’s enough to be interested and want to gain additional information. The rest will happen if and when the time is right for you. You may very well open a door into an exciting new chapter of your life.
For more information about the Traveling VIPs chapter, contact FMCA’s Chapter Services department at (800) 543-3622.