Executive Director’s Commentary
By Don Eversmann, F240000
Each year we review the participation of the FMCA membership in the various events that FMCA sponsors. FMCA’s leaders are always looking for ways to increase the number of members who participate in association activities.
Membership in FMCA now exceeds 129,000 families. The association’s 460 chapters all across North America certainly provide a variety of opportunities for FMCA members to get involved. However, even with extensive recruitment programs in place, only one-third of members have joined an FMCA chapter. I know that many families have such busy lives that there is little room for chapter gatherings in their schedules. Younger families have children who play organized sports or have part-time jobs that keep them close to home on weekends. Others like to do their traveling by themselves; or, as new motorhome owners, are taking those trips they have been dreaming about.
Some chapters relate to specific motorhome brands, so they are for anyone who wants to remain current about the product line but may or may not have the time to become involved. Other chapters, which I will call social chapters, exist for the fun and fellowship that is generated among the membership. I relate these to family reunions “” I personally never had the chance to attend such gatherings until I married into a more close-knit family. Our hope is that as your motorhome ownership continues and your circumstances in life change, you eventually will become more involved and join a chapter or two.
Members can gain a voice in the association’s governance through chapters. Each chapter has an elected representative, a national director, who votes in national meetings on the chapter’s behalf. Many chapter members indicate that they don’t want to become involved in the politics of the association, and that they just want to participate in the fun and fellowship. This is perfectly understandable. They can share any concerns they have about the association with the national director, and then that individual can conduct business accordingly.
The next FMCA groups that come to mind are the area associations. Area associations originally were formed to assist the area vice presidents in putting on area rallies each year, and they still do. But as FMCA has grown, the area associations’ roles have broadened also. Some areas have so many chapters now “” 60 to 80, in some cases “” that it’s impossible for one area vice president to visit with them all. So, officers of some area associations help the area vice presidents stay connected with chapters by visiting and supporting them. Area associations also have taken a more active role in the recruitment of members to chapters in their area and in assisting with the formation of new chapters in locations where an abundance of non-chapter members live.
Area rallies offer a dynamic opportunity for members to be a part of an FMCA-sponsored event. They are local events, run by the volunteers of the respective areas, and they have all the flavor of the historic conventions of FMCA. Attendance at these events usually ranges from 2,500 families in some of the snowbird areas to approximately 500 in sparsely populated and spread-out areas. Usually, somewhere between 50 and 200 motorhomes are exhibited by local dealerships, and approximately 50 to 100 supplier exhibits offer items necessary to fully enjoy the RVing lifestyle. A whole lineup of seminars is offered also, with topics ranging from holding tank operations to fashion shows. Each evening of the rally typically features local or regional entertainment.
These area rallies are a “must” experience. Within a one-day drive in most cases, you can participate in an exciting, informative event in your area. Unlike a typical RV show devoted to all types of recreation vehicles, the only vehicles that are displayed and discussed are motorhomes “” exactly what FMCA is all about. We would like to increase the number of members who participate in area rallies. If you’ve not yet attended one of these events, you might consider doing so once you have the opportunity to expend vacation time, become empty nesters, or reach the point of retirement.
International conventions provide the third opportunity for members to participate in FMCA. These events are premier motorhome showcases. They are called conventions because they’re a meeting of members, but they also offer the opportunity to attend a motorhome show and rally on a grand scale. Member governance meetings take place only at the second convention of the year, traditionally held in the summer.
FMCA conventions have long been highly respected motorhome shows for the industry. Participation in these events by key industry leaders has been outstanding. While FMCA conventions have much in common with area rallies, they are on a much broader scale. In the area of learning experiences, FMCA conventions usually have 12 seminar rooms operating simultaneously “” sometimes frustrating members who would like to attend them all. Daytime entertainment is performed in an open-air setting, and evening entertainment typically features nationally recognized performers.
I think the most interesting aspect of a convention is the massive display of motorhomes and supplies. FMCA teams up with motorhome manufacturers and regional dealerships to exhibit some 1,000 brand-new motorhomes. Upward of 200 demonstrator motorhomes usually are available for a test drive. It’s a one-of-a-kind opportunity to compare and contrast all aspects of motorhomes, from floor plans to chassis, and every other detail, all in one place.
In addition, more than 600 supplier exhibit booths provide motorhome enthusiasts with a whole realm of products for purchase. Knowledgeable salespeople are available to answer questions and explain the use of their products. I often refer to this area as the motorhome owner’s toy store, but it is much more than that. While some of us look at these items as enhancing our motorhoming lifestyle, for others it is an opportunity to become more familiar with the products we already own.
It’s amazing to see 4,000 to 5,000 family motorhomes all parked together, but what is really dynamic is to experience one of these events in person. I strongly encourage you to consider attending an FMCA convention when one is held in your area or when it coincides with your travel plans.
So many opportunities are available to you as members of FMCA. The three I have discussed here “” attending chapter rallies, area rallies, and international conventions “” are great member benefits. Much time and effort are put forth by the association to enhance your participation in events such as these and to further your enjoyment of the motorhoming lifestyle. Please consider joining a chapter in your local area, attending an area rally, and taking in an international convention. You can refer to the “Association Calendar” that begins on page 161 in this magazine to see a schedule of upcoming chapter, area, and international activities. Or, check it out the Event Calendar at www.fmca.com.