Executive Director’s Commentary
By Don Eversmann, F240000, Executive Director
The Family Motor Coach Association was founded by a group of families who owned bus conversions. Last month I shared details about how the association was formed, and it all happened when a group of individuals from various parts of the country came together to share common interests. The paramount interest was the use of their converted buses, which they eventually called motor coaches.
FMCA members enjoyed being with others who shared their desire to travel in this manner, and they arranged subsequent meetings and get-togethers. As the association grew, so did the members’ interest in scheduling rendezvous. Groups of members came together in different areas of the country, and the subgroups became known as chapters.
In a nutshell, a chapter is a subgroup of FMCA members who desire to meet and share common interests. Chapters organized on the basis of coach brand exist because of their interest in a particular type of motorhome. Chapters have formed because of a mutual interest in activities such as crafts, fishing, golf, four-wheeling, NASCAR, tailgating, and so forth. Other chapters are formed on a geographical basis, and members join for various social reasons and to share in fun and fellowship. Each social chapter has its own specific reason for formation, and each has a story to tell.
When motorhomers join the Family Motor Coach Association, they receive a large package, which includes their membership identification emblems (“goose eggs”) and some printed materials. Among them is a postcard titled “Chapter Information.” New members can fill out that card and send it to the Chapter Services Department at the FMCA national office. Chapter Services staff will notify members about chapters that might interest them. The chapter contact person is notified about the members’ potential interest.
Some chapters regularly receive the names and contact information for new FMCA members and take the initiative to contact the members and tell them more about their group. These are the two initial opportunities that a new member has to join an FMCA chapter.
Another way FMCA members join chapters is through attending a rally. They either read about the gathering in the “Association Calendar,” which is published each month in Family Motor Coaching magazine and as the “Event Calendar” online at FMCA’s Web site, FMCA.com, or they receive a personal invitation to such an event.
Many of us have other priorities occurring in our lives when we receive the membership packet, and we overlook the “Chapter Information” card, or just don’t understand it. This can be rectified by a phone call to the Chapter Services Department at the FMCA national office “” 800-543-3622. Staff members are ready to help you link up with a fun group of people with whom you can travel and enjoy rallies.
FMCA members and non-members may also visit FMCA.com and perform a chapter search. You can look for a chapter according to its geographic location or name. Once you’ve chosen chapters that interest you, you can request additional information by providing your contact information.
Early editions of Family Motor Coaching magazine reported regularly on chapter activities. These days FMCA has more than 500 chapters, so it’s impossible to publish reports about each group. However, the magazine does include rally listings and articles in “Family & Friends” and “Chapter Spotlight.” Some chapters are restrictive with regard to membership, such as those that require members to own a specific brand of motorhome. Others limit the number of members they will accept because they do not want to outgrow campgrounds and facilities where they enjoy gathering for rallies.
If you are looking for a chapter to visit, you can probably meet someone sooner than you think just by checking the rallies listed in the Association Calendar. These rallies are open to all FMCA members, including non-chapter members. The rally listings normally indicate a registration deadline, usually a couple of weeks before the planned event.
My wife, Sharon, and I have attended a number of chapter rallies and have found them all to be very interesting and enjoyable. While there are similarities, each has its own activities and structure. Some are scheduled to coincide with events in the local area, and the group activities are limited to meals. Others are just casual campground get-togethers, and all activities are organized to promote fun and fellowship among members. Some serve fully catered meals, while some provide the entree and the members supply the rest. Others host covered-dish meals. Chapter rallies remind me a great deal of our family reunion “” a gathering of individuals with common backgrounds for a sharing of fun, fellowship, and great food!
Only one-third of all FMCA members currently are affiliated with a chapter. I know more of you would enjoy being in a chapter once you experience the friendships and relationships that grow out of these gatherings. I can assure you that you will find new friends and enjoy yourself at a chapter rally. You need not join the first chapter you visit, although you may want to. You are not limited to joining only one chapter; you may join as many as you wish.
My personal recommendation is that you join a chapter for those who own the same type of coach as you do, if one is available, and then also join a social chapter or two based on your interests.
Once you become a member of a chapter, get involved. These are all-volunteer organizations. You and the chapter membership get out of it only what you put into it. We all have special talents that we can share. The more you volunteer, the more involved you will become, the more individuals you will meet, and the more you will enjoy your membership in the chapter. I have found that when I am part of making something happen and receive appreciation for my efforts, I thoroughly enjoy my experience.
I encourage anyone who is not a member of an FMCA chapter to please visit one in his or her regional area. If you need assistance or desire information about specific chapters, please don’t hesitate to call the Chapter Services Department at the national office for assistance. Again, information about chapter membership also appears on FMCA’s Web site, FMCA.com.
If you currently are a chapter member and have FMCA friends who aren’t, why not invite them to join you at the next chapter rally? In past surveys, some FMCA members responded that they hadn’t joined a chapter because they hadn’t been invited to do so. Extend the hand of friendship to a fellow FMCA member and share the joys of chapter membership in the process.