An FMCA member’s views on the values of chapter membership.
By J. Glenn Dupree, F362282
My wife, Laura, and I have owned a motorhome since 1998. We became FMCA members in 2005 and joined a local FMCA chapter two years later. I wish we would have joined both much sooner. The benefits of FMCA membership are too numerous to mention here and are, in fact, listed in each issue of the magazine and at FMCA.com. However, FMCA membership includes many intangible benefits as well, among them those associated with membership in a chapter. Here are the most important ones, in my view.
Consistent use. As a member of FMCA, you have the opportunity to join one or more chapters within the association. Through your chapter membership, you likely will use your motorhome on a more consistent basis. Most local chapters hold regular monthly meetings or rallies. I have found that consistent use of our motorhome to travel to such events actually helps to eliminate some mechanical problems. Nothing takes the place of regular maintenance, but frequent operation of the motorhome prevents seals and systems from deteriorating through lack of use. By joining an FMCA chapter and attending regular monthly gatherings, you will have reason to get your coach out on the road consistently, and I think you will find that those nagging little problems will appear less frequently.
Keep informed. The FMCA chapter we joined meets once a month from January to May. The summer months are left free for personal vacations and other travels. The chapter also keeps us informed about FMCA’s international conventions and area rallies and encourages our attendance. Chapter members travel together to these events. Believe me; there is safety “” and fun “” in numbers when traveling. Most local chapters try not to schedule rallies in conflict with FMCA’s international conventions or area rallies. In fact, our chapter volunteered to help at the South Central “Six-State” Rally in Shreveport, Louisiana, September 29 through October 3, 2010. Such events give us the opportunity to meet many great new friends and to learn something new about the motorhome lifestyle.
Entertainment. Our chapter rallies always include great food and entertainment. For example, we have a dance during the rally weekend. Each rally has a theme, such as Mardi Gras in February, crawfish in April, and a celebration of veterans on Memorial Day. We present humorous skits in keeping with the rally theme. We even have a club joke teller. Last year Laura and I attended the chapter Christmas rally, and members performed a moving portrayal of the Christmas story. It was narrated by a speaker as though Grandma were telling it to her grandchildren around the Christmas tree at home. All of the costumes and props were made by chapter members.
Getting involved. An opportunity to become involved is another great benefit of chapter membership. In our chapter, a different member serves as rally master each month. That person then designates people to help put on the rally and assigns tasks. Past rally masters always help the new rally master by providing guidance and advice. This allows more people to be involved. I know that when I help with a task, even if it is just a little bit, it gives me a sense of pride and purpose, as well as a sense of ownership.
Broaden perspectives. Another benefit of belonging to an FMCA chapter is the opportunity to learn different perspectives about the motorhome lifestyle. When you begin to hear how other people use their coaches and listen to them talk about their travels, a whole new world opens up before your eyes. I have found that motorhome owners love to share their experiences and will gladly tell you about places they have been, many you may never have thought of visiting. Chapter rallies are often held in various venues that might be new to you. I have learned a lot about several cities in Louisiana that I probably would not have seen otherwise. Membership certainly has broadened my views of the motorhome lifestyle.
Lifetime friendships. Finally, I believe the greatest benefit you can receive by membership in an FMCA chapter is the opportunity to build lifetime relationships. Thanks to our chapter affiliation, we’ve met people who have become dear friends and people we never would have gotten to know otherwise.
Now, I can’t close without bragging a bit about our local chapter, the Cruisin’ Cajuns, which is made up of a great group of people who support and encourage one another. They not only know how to have a good time, but they do wonderful good works. Each year our chapter raises money for a charity. Several years ago, it was the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and most recently, the Children’s Miracle Network. We also keep a prayer list going for any chapter members in need. We check on members who have had illnesses and deaths in the family, and a church service is held at every rally. The members of our group truly care about one another. I don’t know how I could be around a better group of people, and I suspect members of other chapters feel the same way about their groups.
I believe you can’t find a better, more economical way to use your motorhome than belonging to FMCA and to one or more chapters. So, if you are not in a chapter, it’s time to join one and get involved. Like us, I’m sure you will find that the benefits of membership are great. Hope to see you at a rally one day.
Looking For A Chapter?
FMCA recognizes approximately 500 chapters across the United States and in Canada. Many encompass specific or general geographic regions. Others consist of FMCA members who own a particular brand or model of coach. And still other chapters are based upon some common interest, such as music, amateur radio communication, sports, or coach conversions.
For a listing of FMCA’s chapters, visit FMCA.com and go to the “Chapters/Areas” tab, then click on “Chapter Search.” Or refer to the Chapter Directory that appears in the January and August issues of Family Motor Coaching magazine. To learn more about chapters in your area, contact FMCA’s Chapter Services Department at (513) 474-3622 or (800) 543-3622; [email protected].