By CHERIE ILG HAAS
Shortly after FMCA’s first convention, which was held in Ticonderoga, New York, in 1964, several motor coachers gathered to start a regional chapter for the New England area. Of the many conversations held over campfires that weekend, one in particular is still rippling through the waters of history. Its echoes can be heard in the stories of Northeastern chapter members today.
Members chose this chapter name in order to be inclusive of southeastern Canada, New York, and New Jersey, in addition to the six New England states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. By April of the following year, more than 70 families within this geographical scope had joined. Today more than 200 FMCA families claim the Northeastern chapter as their own. Several of those members have deep roots in the group, having grown up as FMCAers with their parents. These members proudly claim membership numbers with “S” or “D” at the end, which indicates that they are the RVing sons and daughters of FMCA members.
This past August the chapter held a rally at Stones Ranch in Auburn, Massachusetts (home of Northeastern chapter member Bud Stone, L3, who, with his late wife, Audrey, was a charter member of FMCA). The gathering was hosted by these FMCA sons and daughters. As kids, Stones Ranch was one of their favorite rally sites, so they chose to return “” but this time as the event organizers. “Our parents and their friends are guests for the weekend,” said chapter president Lori Lindfors, F794D.
Up to four generations of families can be found at some Northeastern chapter rallies. “We’re trying to put the family back in Family Motor Coaching,” Lori said. “We encourage members to bring their grandchildren.” Some kind of activity is always available for the kids, such as bingo, family kickball, swimming, and crafts. A dance with a deejay was planned for the August rally.
One can see that the grown children of the Northeastern chapter are happy to continue the tradition of motor coaching with their own descendants. “I have so many good memories,” Lori said. She remembers childhood RV trips that involved “rolling in on Friday night; talking on the CB to see who’s there; putting on rollers and makeup so we’d be ready when we got there,” to name just a few. In fact, she enjoyed it enough to become a second-generation chapter president. Her father, Sonny Laine, F794, preceded her in this role.
“It was just a neat way to grow up,” she added.
The chapter is solidly established, and a number of other chapters have begun under its umbrella over the years. According to Lori, the Northeastern chapter’s success “is only possible because of all the members through the years that gave so much of their time to make it a good chapter.” Thanks to these dedicated members, the chapter will celebrate its 40th anniversary next year.
Those who are familiar with the geographic Northeast will appreciate the fact that this chapter holds rallies in many of the region’s great spots, often taking advantage of an area’s local flavor. For instance, last year during a rally in the Scusset Beach area of Massachusetts, members took a leisurely boat ride down a canal, went sight-seeing on beautiful Nantucket Island, and threw their lines in the water for some fishing.
Chapter activities run the gamut, but that’s not the only reason this group is successful. Members are also long on hospitality, according to Lori. “Everybody tries to make everyone welcome. We try to get the newcomers involved so they don’t feel left out. We acknowledge the kids by name so they’re not just there.” Members even work on each other’s coaches when needed. “Somebody’s always fiddling with something. They’re always helping one another. It’s just a really cool thing,” she said.
For more information, visit the Northeastern chapter’s Web site at www.northeasternfmca.homestead.com or call FMCA’s Chapter Services Department at (800) 543-3622.