By Corbett and Connie Pool, F140306
Chairmen, Youth Activities Committee
What do you get when you take a 100-foot-by-200-foot sheep barn and fill it with 110 kids, ages 2 to 18, with tremendous imagination? You get a very successful youth program for FMCA’s 72nd International Convention in Redmond, Oregon.
The Youth Activities Committee set up separate areas for each age group “” TOTS (ages 2 to 5); TWEENS (ages 6 to 9) and PRE-TEENS (ages 10 to 12); and TATS, or Teen-Age Travelers (ages 13 to 18) “” for the Redmond youth program. We placed a portable basketball net in the back of the building and used animal barriers to section off an area for each age group. The barriers were camouflaged with butcher shop paper that the kids proceeded to decorate with water-based paint. The fun began on Monday, August 16, when registration opened for the various activities scheduled through Thursday, August 19.
During the four days of the convention, 59 youth fought the rapids on the Sun Country Whitewater Rafting trip, and 75 joined in the fun at the Sun Mountain Fun Center for go-carts, miniature golf, batting cages, bowling, and arcade games. Sixty went swimming at the Cascade Swim Center in Redmond, and 45 imaginations went to work as the kids painted garden signs as gifts for parents and grandparents. From 9:00 a.m. until closing each day, there was always some activity going on at the youth centers. The kids came up with their own activities in between the scheduled ones. We even had a group of TWEENS and PRE-TEENS that created their own play and presented it on Wednesday evening. Others took the youth volunteers’ hats and painted designs on them to fit the personality of each volunteer.
Since evening entertainment was scheduled during the normal dinner hour, the youth program offered an evening meal for the three older age groups of kids. Twenty-one TWEENS, 35 PRE-TEENS, and 47 TATS consumed 40 pizzas, 200 hot dogs, 200 pieces of KFC chicken, and 15 gallons of ice cream over the course of these three evening meals.
The seven TOTS enjoyed their own private area complete with carpets, small tables and chairs, a television, videos, games, crafts, and doting volunteers. They were treated to a Happy Meal from McDonald’s and had a great time with Flakey the Magic Clown, who made lots of visits, courtesy of Blue Ox, C2903, an FMCA Two Star sponsor. The TOTS also enjoyed their own private ice cream party made possible by RVAA, C95, an FMCA Super Star sponsor.
As has become the custom, we had our usual group of dedicated TATS who rose early in the morning to assist in handing out the newsletter at coffee hour. Yes, they took time off to “taste” their share of the hot chocolate and doughnuts! On Wednesday night the TATS enjoyed their traditional DJ and karaoke to celebrate another successful convention. Before the music and fun began, the TATS held their annual election of officers, with Melissa Carlson, F301017, elected president; Ryan Medlin, F262904, 1st vice president; Mindie Morrow, F64569, 2nd vice president; and Erica Espinosa, F254925, 3rd vice president. The four new officers were introduced at the annual membership meeting on Thursday morning, where a group of the TATS and the TATS’ officers presented FMCA president R.G. Wilson, F21025, with a large hand-painted “Thank You” banner for his continued support of the youth program.
The success of the FMCA youth program is due to the hard work of two wonderful groups of people who give so much of their time and talents to make sure the next generation of FMCA members has an enjoyable, safe, and exciting experience that will continue to draw them back to conventions each year. We cannot say enough about this convention’s Youth Volunteer captains, Fred and Ronda O’Donnell, F293801, and all the wonderful volunteers from the Friends of Children chapter (which has grown to more than 65 families), who helped to register the youth, supervised the centers, and chaperoned the off-site activities. Without our volunteers, we could not have a youth program. And finally, our very special thanks to the other members of the Youth Activities Committee: Paul and Mary Dammers, F135857; Tom and Carol Januski, F266041; John and Mary Juarez, F264001; and John and Jerri Morrow, F64569, for helping us to pull it all together and making it a memorable experience for all of us as well as the children. They make it easy for us as we leave the committee in very dedicated and capable hands.
All the wonderful children we have met and watched grow up over the 10 years we were honored to serve on the committee have provided us many unforgettable moments that will last a lifetime.