Family & Friends
By Peggy Jordan
Try looking at an FMCA convention through a child’s eyes. Can you shop for a new motorhome? Not on your allowance. Do you want to attend a technical seminar? No, thanks! But you do see other kids who are around your age playing together. And once you join them, it turns out to be fun. You’ll probably even make a couple of new friends.
That’s because each FMCA convention has a Youth Program offering a full slate of activities for kids. The program is divided into four age groups: TOTS (ages 2 to 5); TWEENS (ages 6 to 9); PRE-TEENS (ages 10 to 12); and Teen-Age Travelers, or TATS (ages 13 to 18). Youth Centers are set up to give kids a place to hang out and play games, make crafts, have pizza parties, listen to music, and enjoy visits from guests, such as Flakey the Magic Clown. Other times, children are taken off grounds on field trips to have fun at other locations.
Helping to make these opportunities available is the Friends of Children chapter. These FMCA members volunteer to work with kids at the conventions. Currently the chapter has approximately 50 member families, but, of course, not all are able to work at every convention. Those who do can volunteer arrive a few days early to set up the Youth Centers, socialize, and enjoy meals together.
Bob Pennington, F251710, chapter president, and his wife, Joan, are full-time motorhomers and members of FMCA’s Youth Activities Committee. Their introduction to FMCA’s youth program began in 2003 when Bob met Corbett and Connie Pool, F140306, who were co-chairmen of the Youth Activities Committee at that time (currently Connie is FMCA senior vice president). Corbett invited Bob to help with the children at FMCA’s 2003 summer convention in Buffalo, New York. “I said yes, and off we went,” Bob recalled.
The Penningtons decided to join the Friends of Children chapter not long afterward, and have worked at several other conventions since then. The chapter “can always use more members,” Bob said, particularly folks who live in the Western United States and Canada. That’s because, for some reason, the chapter has more members from the East, and this becomes obvious when they run short of volunteers at FMCA conventions held out West.
Working with kids has benefits that can’t be measured, comic moments included. Bob recalled the time, during a canoe outing, when “someone had to taste the water.” And at another convention, kids made their own funny costumes and went parading through the convention site. Another great reward is knowing that you helped make a kid’s day.
Activities are geared to take advantage of the attractions and fun available at the particular convention location. Kids take factory tours when they’re nearby. They also might go bowling, horseback riding, go-cart riding, swimming, and so forth.
This month’s convention at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte/Concord, North Carolina “” August 14 through 17 “” will offer plenty of good times for youngsters. “Looks like we will have lots of things going on, besides playing games and having pizza night,” Bob said. The Youth Activities Committee, chaired by Friends of Children chapter members Tom and Carol Januski, F266041, has arranged field trip locations that will include:
- The Lazy 5 Ranch, home to more than 700 animals from six continents
- Discovery Place, a hands-on science center
- Paramount’s Carowinds amusement park
- Reed’s Gold Mine, the first gold mine in the United States
- NASCAR SpeedPark, a fun center with mini race cars, laser tag, miniature golf, and more
So, make a point of bringing your kids and grandkids to the convention in Charlotte/Concord, and sign them up for the Youth Program. They will likely thank you very much “” because they can’t buy a new motorhome yet!
Tip-O-Tex Celebrates 30th Anniversary
Dorothy Lutkemeier, F265996
Fifteen coaches arrived at Canyon Trails RV Park in San Marcos, Texas, to celebrate the Tip-O-Tex chapter’s 30-year anniversary and to honor past presidents of the chapter, Wednesday, March 29 through Sunday, April 2, 2006. Our rally masters, Delroy and Annette Neubauer, F199941, and Aubrey and Madeline Acker, F193615, planned a great rally that included good food, fun outings, and plenty of camaraderie.
The Tip-O-Tex chapter actually began as a group called Winter Texan. But when the group applied to become an official FMCA chapter, they changed the name to Tip-O-Tex, hoping to pull in more members. On March 5, 1976, the chapter received its FMCA charter during a rally in Brownsville, Texas.
During our anniversary rally the campground hosts did a terrific job making us feel welcome, providing dinner on the first and last nights of the rally and breakfast each morning. We also were treated to live music on Saturday night, capping off an enjoyable gathering.
On Wednesday night we had the privilege of welcoming Six-State Rally Association senior vice president Ben Loganbill, F164247, and his wife, Sue. Ben presented us with a 30-year anniversary certificate and a check from FMCA. He also helped us honor the past presidents of Tip-O-Tex in attendance. Delroy and Annette had made stained-glass eagles, and they presented them to past presidents Frank Davis, A33430; Marth Ann Peters, F145340; and Chuck Walters, F125494, as well as current president Dorothy Lutkemeier, F265996. An eagle also was presented to Ben Loganbill.
In addition, Aubrey Acker presented a stained-glass angel to Rebecca Ybarra-Ramirez, convention and visitors bureau director with the San Marcos Chamber of Commerce, who helped organize our outings. During our stay we got to see some of the interesting places in San Marcos, including Wonder World, Aquarena Center, the Texas State University Library, and the Millie Seaton Collection of Dolls and Toys, which features more than 5,000 dolls, not one alike. Our chapter had its picture taken in front of this museum.
We all enjoyed the fellowship and great food prepared by our hosts and can’t wait until our next rally in New Braunfels, Texas, October 25 through 29.
Motorhome Helps Lindsays Love “Camping”
By PAMELA SELBERT
There was a time when Sharon Lindsay, F284062, was vehemently opposed to camping.
“I tried it, and I didn’t like it,” she said, without a hint of reluctance in her voice.
However, she’s quick to add that her particular disdain was for tent camping “” honest-to-goodness roughing it, not the type of camping she and her husband, Mike, now enjoy in their 40-foot Holiday Rambler Endeavor.
The event in question occurred years ago, shortly after the Lindsays were married in 1979. Mike suggested that his new wife and her daughter, Ami Barr, who is now married to a police officer in Springfield, Illinois, all go camping, one of Mike’s favorite activities. Sharon rolled her eyes as she recalled the dreadful weekend.
“Ami became very upset that there was no electricity to run her hair dryer,” Sharon said. “The trip went downhill from there. I told Mike it was not something I ever wanted to do again.” And it was years before the subject came up again. In fact, it wasn’t until the Lindsays had both retired in 1998 that either contemplated another excursion. (Coincidentally, Ami and her husband are now avid tent-campers.) In between they went about their life, earning a living and raising their four kids.
Many years after their ill-fated camping trip, Mike still hadn’t given up hope of persuading his wife that traipsing off into the wilderness was worthy recreation. But this time he suggested they try it in a little less primitive fashion: a motorhome. And maybe, he suggested, they could even stay out of the woods.
Sharon was amenable to the idea, so they purchased a 1998 38-foot Mountain Aire. Both soon fell in love with motorhoming and traveled in the unit for the next five years. Friends who were members of FMCA suggested that they join the organization, citing the numerous benefits.
The Lindsays have been members almost six years now, during which time they joined FMCA’s Southwind Club of Florida chapter. (The chapter’s scope is Florida, and it’s not a brand-focused group.) Plans for the future include going to an FMCA international convention and continuing to attend monthly rallies, October through April, organized by their chapter.
Although the couple has enjoyed motorhoming trips as far away as Alaska, they decided to make Florida their permanent residence in 1998 when they bought a site in an adult mobile home park in Arcadia.
One of their four children from the combined families, Chuck Lair, a construction worker, came to Florida in search of work after Hurricane Charlie tore through the state in 2004. He found plenty of opportunity when he arrived and stayed in Arcadia, working in nearby Okeechobee. The couple also has two other sons: Darren Lindsay, an MRI technician in Des Moines, Iowa, and Todd Lindsay, who runs a heating and air-conditioning firm in Herrin, Illinois. They also have 12 grandchildren.
Mike, who is originally from Herrin, started out as a business major at Southern Illinois University Carbondale but wound up in a coal mine. His father had been a miner, and he figured the mines seemed as good a place as any to earn money to pay for a college education.
“I started working at an Illinois mine in 1956, became an hourly employee the next year, and stayed at the occupation 42 years,” he said. “I never did get back to college, but I have no regrets.”
During his career he worked at several different underground mines throughout the state, but his job maintaining equipment kept him on the surface. He retired as a foreman.
Sharon, from Girard, Illinois, the town the Lindsays called home until retirement, ran a flower shop called In Shoppe for 25 years. She sold it in 1994 to become manager of the lawn and garden department at a home improvement store. Four years later when Mike retired, she decided she should do the same.
My husband, Guy, and I met the couple at a Florida RV park where they were camped alongside Tom and Barb Arnold, friends of the Lindsays from Farmersville, Illinois, who had come south to catch some major league baseball spring training games. Both couples are devoted St. Louis Cardinals fans. The Arnolds buy season tickets to Cards’ regular season home games and invite the Lindsays to join them whenever they’re in Illinois during the baseball season.
The couple has traveled throughout the continent. Sharon reminisced about a favorite trip they took four years ago that led them across Canada and around Alaska. Jasper National Park and the ice fields near Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada, were particularly noteworthy, they agreed. Although the driving distances through Canada were long, the couple made use of all the services they came upon and had no problems reaching their destination.
“We did just about everything we could in Alaska,” Mike said. “We went halibut fishing and loaded the freezer; saw lots of wildlife, especially elk; rode the ferry to Juneau; went from Haines to Skagway on the Alaska Inland Waterway, a four-hour trip. I even caught a plane to the Arctic Circle. Sharon isn’t a fan of small planes, so she passed on that adventure.”
“The trip lasted 16 weeks and was so much fun,” Sharon said. “We traveled strictly at our own pace; 50 miles a day or 500.” She said she’d do it all again in a minute.
Although the Lindsays like venturing far away, they also enjoy revisiting particular Florida locales such as Sunshine Key and Kissimmee, a lake-dotted region in the central part of the state.
With a smile, Sharon confessed that she has gone from hating the very thought of camping to almost being content to live in the coach. “I love the convenience of traveling this way,” she said. “You can just stop whenever you want to and have everything you need right there.”
Mike added that he likes not having to carry bags into a motel or look for a restaurant. “I love the independence,” he said. “Wherever you are, you’re at home “” your house just happens to be on wheels.”