By Paul Cummings, F319545
Last December the Dogwood chapter celebrated its 10th anniversary at a rally in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Our chapter began in June 1996 in Portsmouth, Virginia, at the Seawall Festival Rally, which was hosted by FMCA’s Colonial, Cardinal, and Capitol chapters. Several rally attendees, most of whom had never been in a chapter, decided to form a new club during that rally. Altogether, 27 couples became charter members, and then elected officers. Today 53 couples belong to the chapter, and 17 charter members are still active.
Our 10th anniversary was celebrated at our largest rally of the year, held on the first weekend in December in conjunction with Colonial Williamsburg’s Grand Illumination celebration. This event typically attracts 25,000 to 30,000 people and involves plenty of fireworks, as well as lots of food and fun to begin the holiday season. Chapter members love to shop the numerous outlets for bargains and gifts.
We hold rallies four times a year in different parts of Virginia. Most of the members reside in Virginia, but we have some Marylanders and Floridians in our ranks as well.
In 2006 the chapter also rallied at FMCA’s international convention in Charlotte/Concord, North Carolina; visited the Shenandoah Valley area near Staunton, Virginia; and attended the Oyster Festival in Urbanna, Virginia. For 2007 we have four more rallies planned: during the FMCA international convention in Perry, Georgia; at the GEAR (Great Eastern Area Rally) in Memphis, Tennessee; at Fort Monroe, on the Chesapeake Bay; and in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Regular Dogwood chapter rallies are held on weekends to accommodate those who work the 9-to-5 shift. Retired couples in our group just come early, leave later, and eat out more.
The biggest rally in terms of participation has been our annual December rally in Williamsburg. But other fun times have included rallies at the Midget Car Races in Williams, Pennsylvania, and the Virginia Pork Festival in Emporia, Virginia.
Our members are very friendly and have a wide background of interests and professions, including some bus conversion owners. There is always something to talk about or a new food recipe to try. Many members travel with their pets, too, and enjoy telling the latest stories to keep us all laughing. For example, at one rally a member admitted that she took her dog’s medicine by mistake. She promised to put her glasses on next time!
In addition to their friendliness, Dogwood chapter members possess extensive traveling experience and are willing to share it, which impresses my wife and me. If you are planning a trip and need answers, just ask, “Who’s been to … ?” and “What route should I take?” “Where should I stay?” and “When is the best time of the year to go?”
Each year we try to add new members who have moved into the area and are looking to join an RV chapter. We welcome anyone who is searching for a chapter home in Virginia and will be glad to send you our monthly newsletter and an invitation to our rallies. Contact FMCA’s Chapter Services Department at the national office: (800) 543-3622; e-mail: [email protected].