By Barbara “Bobbie” Shiplett, F356106
Everyone appreciates having friends. Singles International is the group to join if you are single and enjoy having friends who share the RV lifestyle. If you’re widowed, divorced, or just always have been single, we invite you to give us a try.
We have more than 400 family members who live all across the United States and Canada. You can spot us at FMCA conventions and area rallies by finding our chapter’s bright yellow flag, which has the letters “SI” on it.
A large portion of our members are full-timers who travel extensively, so there are many opportunities to meet and share activities, from dancing and riding ATVs to kayaking and plain old sight-seeing.
Prerallies are generally scheduled before major FMCA events (area rallies and conventions), so that we can caravan into the grounds and park together. From time to time our group has volunteered to serve as needed during an event. This gives us an opportunity to give back to our parent organization, as well as promote our chapter.
We are part of FMCA’s International Area, but for organizational purposes we are geographically divided to coincide with FMCA’s nine other areas: Western, Rocky Mountain, Great Lakes, Midwest, Northwest, Southeast, South Central, Northeastern, and Eastern areas. Each region has a vice president who coordinates activities in his or her region and generally hosts the rallies prior to FMCA events in that area. All chapter members are encouraged to host any events as they so desire. Hosting can be as simple as securing a location, communicating information about the gathering in our chapter newsletter (“The Scuttlebutt”) or on our Web site (www.fmca-si.com), and making sure that all feel welcome.
We enjoy a variety of activities, so it is easy to arrange things for the group to do or to find an outing you will like. In the Southeast, there are always group events beginning in the fall. Martha Werre volunteers her place for boondocking, and together with Sue Mercer hosted a Thanksgiving feast in 2007. That event was followed by a Christmas gathering hosted by Susan Collins. Bill Molenaar sponsored a New Year’s get-together in Titusville, Florida. When these festivities ended, a small caravan headed by Bill Hagedorn left for a two-month trip in Mexico.
Following the holidays the Southeasterners continue to enjoy the snowbird life and head off to Brooksville, Florida, for the Southeast Area Rally in February. Chapter members will meet in Perry, Georgia, at the upcoming FMCA convention in March 2009.
In the Southwest, Singles International members in the Rio Grande Valley of south Texas like to hone their dancing skills at many dance spots in the area. Sometimes it is difficult to decide where to go, but Pepe’s On the River (in Mission) was always the choice on Sunday afternoon, as well as the Galleria in Progresso, Mexico, on Tuesdays. On Friday evenings a large contingent of singles could be found dancing at Fun-N-Sun RV Resort in San Benito. The valley offers plenty of opportunities to learn how to dance and then practice your moves. Trips to Mexico occur on a regular basis from this area. I led a weeklong bus trip to “Carnaval” in Veracruz, in which 10 singles participated.
In April 2007 our chapter sponsored the first all-singles dance rally. The event was such a success that we held another one this past April in Bandera, Texas. The rally was open to all singles and included dance lessons as part of the rally fee, plus five nights of dancing at the park with live music. In 2007 a little more than 100 people attended, and this year we had 171 participants. Next year’s dance rally also will take place in Bandera.
The singles in the West meet in the Yuma, Arizona, area regularly at Neva Cole’s house in the foothills. This is a good way to find out what is happening in Yuma as well as meet up with other singles in the area. We get together each January prior to the Western Area Rally in Indio, California, and afterward, we head on to Quartzsite, Arizona, where we meet with other singles groups for socializing and dancing.
We usually go on a Caribbean cruise each year. February 21 through 28, 2009 (nearly two weeks after the SEA rally), we’ll be heading out of Port Canaveral, Florida, for a Carnival Cruise Line trip. The SIs will have group events while aboard, and the ship will visit Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico; Belize; and Nassau, Bahamas, among other stops.
We also schedule caravans each year. In 2009 we will embark on a “Waltz Across Texas” caravan beginning March 18. We will start in Cajun Country near Lafayette, Louisiana, and then head toward Houston, Gruen, and Fredericksburg, Texas, then on to Bandera.
In June 2009 we are planning a Pacific Northwest and British Columbia caravan that starts in Sisters, Oregon, and heads to Portland; Mount St. Helens; Olympic National Park; Victoria, Vancouver Island, Canada; and then over the Hope-Princeton Highway to Nelson, British Columbia, and then back south to the Pend Oreille River area near Usk, Washington.
FMCA area rallies and conventions give us a good reason to plan caravans, which always prove to be interesting, educational, and fun. We’ve enjoyed caravans that traveled from Colorado Springs, Colorado, to the FMCA convention in Minot, North Dakota (2005); and from Medford, Oregon, to the convention in Redmond, Oregon (2007). This month (beginning October 19), we will hold a post-rally after the Rocky Mountain Ramble, at the Ramble’s site in Farmington, New Mexico. In the past, caravans have taken members to sights in the Great Lakes region prior to the G.L.A.S.S. Rally in Berrien Springs, Michigan, and to the National Cherry Blossom Parade prior to an International Area Rally in Harrington, Delaware.
In May we often head for Cloud Nine Ranch Club in southern Missouri for fishing and challenging ATV riding, and then we make Branson, Missouri, the next stop on the spring circuit. Recently we have added the Scott Joplin Festival in Sedalia, Missouri, to our agenda in early June. This month, we are attending the Octoberfest in Herman, Missouri.
The friendships that are made through our chapter are invaluable. We all have the same yearning to travel, visit new places, and learn about our wonderful country, so there is a lot to share at our afternoon gatherings. Networking and information-gathering are important to us, too, as are enjoying activities such as hiking, ATV riding, taking in local shows, and, of course, eating. Breakfasts are generally part of the morning activities, with different members volunteering to show off their best pancakes, eggs, or French toast. Since nobody likes to eat alone and it is sometimes difficult to cook for just one, potluck meals are almost always on the agenda.
The SI chapter is open to all single FMCA members who are interested in having fun and enjoying life. You do not have to be a full-timer, and you do not have to attend all the events. All FMCA members are welcome to join us at our rallies and events, whether they are single or married.
Sometimes members do wind up getting married after they join our group. If they do, they don’t have to give up all the friends they’ve made “” they can continue to be members.
As you can see, the SI chapter has a wide range of activities, and we are always in search of new things to do and different places to visit. For more information, including a list of upcoming rallies and events, visit our Web site, www.fmca-si.com. Annual dues are $10, which includes a quarterly newsletter.