In the spring of 1997, less than a year after its introduction by Fleetwood, the Discovery was reportedly the best-selling type A diesel motorhome in the United States. Numerous FMCA members were among those who bought this popular coach, and soon many realized it was time to form a group of their own. Discovery owners groups did exist, but not all of the members were in FMCA.
“That’s the reason we got started — there was no Discovery owners group for FMCA,” said chapter president John Wittenberg, F265098. The Discovery International chapter was officially chartered in March of 1999.
The chapter enables FMCA members, regardless of where they live, to share information about these motorhomes. Concerning coach care, John said, “We encourage anybody who has any problems to come on our members’ Web site and tell everybody about it, so we can keep a heads-up on things.” Other technical information and updates are among the mix of topics listed on the Web site, www.difmca.com. John noted that one idea under discussion had been a monitor system on the coach that was difficult to read. It has since been changed, and, “We had a couple articles about that,” he said.
As is stated on the chapter Web site, the Internet played a role in helping the chapter form when FMCA members who were Discovery owners began “meeting” each other over the Web. And now the chapter Web site is something members can be proud of. It contains a wealth of information, such as a stockpile of chapter newsletters; a chapter membership application; photos from past rallies; chapter bylaws; and even recipes.
The newsletters offer information about upcoming chapter events. The group always gets together prior to FMCA conventions at a site not far from the convention grounds. After the pre-rally, chapter members caravan together to the convention. The group met most recently prior to the Charlotte/Concord, North Carolina, convention this past August.
“Usually the pre-rallies are about three days long,” John said. In addition to enjoying catered meals, “At each pre-rally we try to have something everyone can join in and go visit,” he said. In Concord, the group tour involved learning about Lowe’s Motor Speedway firsthand, via the “Feel The Thrill” tour at the track.
The chapter’s next pre-rally will be held in Tifton, Georgia, March 13 through 16, 2007, prior to the FMCA convention in Perry, Georgia. Attendees will visit Agrirama, the Georgia Museum of Agriculture and Historic Village.
John said that, in addition to meals and a group activity, members also have time to go off on their own to enjoy the area, whether that means shopping for the ladies or a tech-talk session for the men. Sometimes the group plays games, too.
Discovery International chapter members also like to organize their own traveling rallies. In the past, small groups of members have visited Alaska, Utah, and Mexico. For 2007, the plan is to enjoy Utah again via a traveling rally that will stop at a variety of beautiful locations; it will take place beginning in late September.
Unlike some owners’ group chapters, this one is not affiliated with the company and is completely self-supporting. However, Fleetwood representatives have been helpful to the coach owners in the past, and at chapter rallies held prior to FMCA conventions, they have come by to sign up owners for routine maintenance. Chapter members have reciprocated by volunteering in the Fleetwood display area that is set up at the conventions.
The chapter welcomes any FMCA member who owns a Discovery, regardless of where they live. Today there are 110 member families in the chapter, and it’s welcoming all who qualify. As John said, “The more the merrier.”
Yearly dues are $10, with a $15 one-time initiation fee. A member application is on the chapter Web site. Or, for more information about Discovery International chapter membership, contact John Wittenberg at Route 1, Box 123, Strasburg, IL 62465-9779; (217) 644-2264; e-mail: email@example.com; or membership secretary Linda Miller, F301232, at 10066 E. 600 S., Lafayette, IN 47905; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. For general chapter information, contact the FMCA Chapter Services Department at the national office — (800) 543-3622 or via e-mail at email@example.com.