Are you an FMCA member living in southwest Utah who is ready to join a new kind of chapter? Then meet the Red Rock Rovers.
The chapter, which received its charter in January 2005, is a small group with a 30-coach limit that operates on five main principles: a focus on travel, fun, and companionship; only four to six rallies per year in locations outside the area; informal meetings with no rituals, scheduled early in the day; adventuresome activities; and the sharing of duties at rallies (no one has to be a rally host).
Gary Watts, F28005, chapter founder and president, is the person responsible for setting up these basic operating rules. He has been an FMCA member since 1986, and traveled in a motorhome with his family for years. He suggested that FMCA form a chapter in southwest Utah, and Rocky Mountain Area vice president Duane Pindell, F105443, supported the idea.
Gary set to work gathering information so that the group could be more fun than a chapter he once joined while belonging to another RV club. “Having come out of the experience with the [other] chapter, and having some idea of what the chapter ought to be, I started reading every Web page I could read,” he said, looking for info about chapter issues. Doing so confirmed that finding rally hosts is difficult in some groups. So, in forming the Red Rock Rovers, “We did away with hosting, in effect, and made it all collaborative,” he said. “We tend to have three common meals at each rally.” These include a first-night finger food meal; a breakfast; and a dinner with the whole group. All are potluck.
In order to keep rallies interesting, they’re held outside of southwest Utah. The group takes a vote when deciding where rallies will be held. So far they have rallied twice in Quartzsite, Arizona, and plan to return there in 2007. In addition, the chapter has visited Durango, Colorado; Jackson Hole, Wyoming; and Monument Valley, on the Utah/Arizona border. They will attend the Rocky Mountain Area Rally in Casa Grande, Arizona, in October.
The size of possible rally locations dictates the size of the chapter itself. “If we’re going to do this, we can’t have 200 people in the chapter,” Gary said. “The only places chapters that have 100 people can meet are fairgrounds. So we are based on the fact that the size of the chapter dictates where you can hold your rallies. Figuring about half of the members would attend, 15 to 18 [coaches] could probably go anywhere.”
And when the Red Rock Rovers get together in the evening during their rallies, they have a campfire. But it’s not just any campfire. It is set inside a porcelain tub taken from inside a discarded washing machine. As it turns out, they make excellent fire holders.
“You can throw an 8-inch log in there and the thing just glares red,” Gary said. “Because it’s so hot as it heats, it actually gets a whirlwind that takes the smoke straight up. You get up in the morning and, because it’s so efficient, not even a handful of ashes is left.”
Gary said the chapter keeps a couple of washtubs handy as they travel, and admitted the flaming tubs with holes have roused the curiosity of other campers.
So far the chapter’s principles have worked well, just like the fire-filled porcelain washtub. Gary said he believes the lack of host responsibilities actually makes everyone more responsible and active in the group. “We’ve never had one incident where somebody hasn’t volunteered or asked what they are bringing or who they can help. Everybody has more ownership, because they’re all owners of the rally,” he said.
The chapter currently has 27 member families (three short of the 30-coach goal), so it is still seeking new members. Dues are $25 per year. For more information about the Red Rock Rovers, contact the FMCA Chapter Services Department at the national office: (800) 543-3622; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.