By Peggy Jordan
FMC Associate Editor
Almost 25 years ago, an FMCA chapter was formed for owners of motor coaches built on Prevost bus shells. Today more than 900 families belong to the Prevost Prouds chapter, and it keeps growing.
The chapter members’ motorhomes all look a bit different, but that’s no matter. Roughly 12 different companies create bus conversions using Prevost shells today, but they all have the “Ultimate Class” foundation in common.
The chapter’s existence is credited to Prevost owners Jack and Belle Schneiker, L2150; Lew and Betty Irwin, L1758; and a few other FMCA couples. During the 1978 summer FMCA convention in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, they approached Gaston Pelletier, national sales manager for Prevost Car Inc., C632, about creating an owners group. Mr. Pelletier gave his approval and pledged his assistance. During FMCA’s summer 1979 convention, they and other FMCA members met to work out the details of chapter formation. Mr. Pelletier came up with the chapter’s name. FMCA granted the chapter its charter on February 1, 1980.
Today Prevost Prouds members live throughout the United States and Canada and carry on traditions they’ve established over the years. The group always holds a rally prior to each FMCA international convention, in a spot that is within a 300-mile (day’s drive) radius of the site. At the rally’s conclusion, they form a caravan and file into the convention grounds. The chapter already has plans to gather in Biloxi, Mississippi, prior to FMCA’s 73rd International Convention in Perry, Georgia, in March 2005. Jack Schneiker said that in the early days of the chapter, rallies were put together and run by the members. For the past seven years, they have had a paid consultant who scouts out the pre-convention rally sites and does all the legwork in planning the chapter’s rally activities, from food catering to tent rental and more. Chapter president Roy Johnson, F275301, added, “If there’s anything going on in the place we’re visiting, he incorporates us into those activities.”
Prevost Car Inc. representatives set up shop at the rally site, too. “They send a full service team to every rally,” noted chapter treasurer Rick Kent, F157195. “A tent is erected that is large enough for working on several Prevost coaches at one time, along with a tractor-trailer that is full of Prevost parts. They are prepared to make nearly any repair that is needed for anyone attending the rallies.”
Prevost Car Inc. even assisted when 12 chapter coaches caravanned to Alaska this past summer. A member needed a small bracket for his coach’s engine, and Prevost Car shipped a replacement part overnight, so the group was on its way the next day without delays.
Mini rallies also take place throughout the year. Roy said they are usually more spur-of-the-moment events. “Last November we got an e-mail from friends in Louisiana. Two couples down there contacted about 10 coaches and said, ‘We’re bored and lonely. Come on down and let us show you what we have down here.'”
Roy also recalled an incident two or three years ago when, “in April, we heard there are bluebonnets in Texas. And there are old-time honky-tonks.” It didn’t take long before some chapter members had put the two together by creating a rolling rally. They traveled past bluebonnet-covered fields during the day and danced in various honky-tonks at night.
The chapter also has been holding a winter dinner party each year for the past 11 years; the 12th annual dinner party is planned for January 2005 in Naples, Florida. In typical fashion, it will be a gala night of feasting, entertainment, and prizes.
Aside from having successful rallies and the backing of Prevost Car, another reason the chapter is enjoyable is the members themselves. Roy relishes learning each individual’s personal history. “We enjoy the lifestyle and we enjoy the people. They all have a good story to tell.”
FMCA members who are interested in joining the Prevost Prouds must have a motor coach based on a Prevost shell. Dues are $50 annually plus a $25 initiation fee. For general information about chapters, contact FMCA’s Chapter Services Department at (800) 543-3622.