By Judy Czarsty, F79148, National Senior Vice President/Acting National President
One of the great benefits of being an FMCA member is the wonderful staff we have doing the work of the association in Cincinnati. Have you ever thought about how many weeks and days go into 42 years of service? Well, it is a bit mind-boggling. One work year equals about 2,080 hours. If you worked 42 years, then you would give your employer 87,360 hours of your life. That is pretty impressive, but you may wonder who would do that? Well, FMCA’s director of member services, Beverly Spurgeon, did just that!
In March Beverly decided it was time to hang up the FMCA work scene and take some time out to enjoy life. She came to FMCA as a very young lady and stayed with FMCA more than 65 percent of her life. That is really impressive.
I have known Beverly for more than 17 of those years, and I can tell you that she has been the resident expert on FMCA and its history. Over the years, Beverly worked to find newer and more meaningful benefits for us, the membership. And she and her staff worked tirelessly to serve the needs of members on a daily basis. One of Beverly’s final contributions to FMCA was completing work on the FMCAssist evacuation program.
Now Beverly will begin work on her own priorities. I can’t tell you how much she will be missed in the Round Bottom Road and Clough Pike offices. Her big smile and quiet ways helped everyone to keep things in perspective. Beverly, I can only say that you have earned this new chapter in your life, and may you have many years of self-fulfillment doing the things you have always put off. I am one fan who will really miss you.
My husband and I often think back to our convention experiences and the many times we reminisced with Beverly about FMCA. One way we first became better acquainted with Beverly and the rest of the staff was through our involvement with the FMCA youth program. That program played a major role in our family’s FMCA experiences, and we continue to promote it to families today.
That said, we’re now finalizing plans for our association’s 86th Family Reunion & Motorhome Showcase, set for August 10 through 13 at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wisconsin, and we hope that if you have youngsters in your life “” children or grandchildren “” you will bring them with you to Madison. We promise that they’ll have plenty of ways to have fun while you’re at the event.
I recall our son Steve’s experiences with FMCA’s youth program, which led to our involvement in the program. It seemed that as soon as one summer convention would end, he was already asking about when and where we would go the next summer. Part of the reason for this was the fun that he had, but a bigger part was about keeping up with the friends he made at these gatherings.
In those days we sometimes took vacation leave to go to an FMCA winter convention. In March of 1991 we arrived at the FMCA winter convention in San Antonio, Texas. We parked the motorhome, and soon both Steves “” father and son “” were standing on the coach roof looking at the vehicles rolling in. It was so exciting for them. I marveled at their ability to tell a Winnebago from a Foretravel or a Komfort Coach.
The younger Steve soon faced his first FMCA disappointment. At summer conventions, many activities were offered to kids, so he wondered why games and kid stuff were not available at this event. Well, when you are married to a teacher, you soon discover that there are always learning opportunities. His dad finally said that FMCA president Del Davis could answer their questions, and off they went. Steve Jr. would learn a life lesson, and both of them would learn more about FMCA.
Our son explained his concerns to Mr. Davis. (Steve’s dad relayed to me, with a great deal of pride, how adult our son was in talking with the FMCA president. Steve Jr. went on to serve as TATS vice president and then president.) Steve Jr.’s point was that kids should have something to do. Mr. Davis explained that there weren’t enough children registered at this convention to warrant creating activities for the youth “” not like in summer. He assured Steve that he would look into it and that there would be a new and improved program at the next convention.
Little did he realize what was coming! President Davis called and asked whether we would serve on a new Youth Committee. George and Pat Snyder and John and Nancy Alguire had been charged to revive the youth program and bring back the children to FMCA. Nancy was a schoolteacher, and she is a real dynamo, with lots of creative ideas. Pat and George had been very active in the early days of FMCA and could help with the program’s history and what worked. The committee’s job was obvious: get the program organized and make it fun for the Tots (ages 2-5), Tweens (ages 6-9), Preteens (ages 10-12), and TATS (Teenage Travelers ages 13-18).
The summer 1991 convention in South Bend, Indiana, was the first event of the new and improved youth program. There were lots of young, shiny faces waiting for the fun to begin. It was filled with games, tours, and, of course, food, food, food. After the Notre Dame convention, Pat and George felt everything was under control with the youth program, and they began to ease out of it. So, while we were busy getting volunteers to help with the program, we began looking for replacements for George and Pat.
At the Laramie, Wyoming, convention in July 1992 we met a young couple with a daughter and invited them to help with youth activities at the next convention. Their young daughter was Kelly Pool, who eventually served as president of the TATS, and her mother, Connie, went on to become an FMCA national president.
A really memorable youth program was held during the summer of 1993 at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. The college has a school of education, and Nancy Alguire was able to get a number of students who wanted some experience to help set up games and trips for the youth. They had a field day and included all ages, and was it ever fun watching the kids compete in various games. They also had karaoke, pizza parties, ice cream, and use of an indoor basketball court.
At that convention, the Alguires and Czarstys were being introduced as national officers. Afterward, entertainment was about to begin. Well, the lights dimmed, and Nancy and I got up and tiptoed past the stage to get out and go supervise the youth center. Well, you guessed it. The entertainers saw us going and followed us along the stage, yelling like Jerry Lewis, “Ladies, ladies, don’t go! Hey, ladies, ladies, it’s going to be a good show.” You can imagine how embarrassed we were!
We also found some dedicated members who stepped up to help when we asked. I will never forget how Jimmy Goss from the Converted Coach chapter came through for us when we were in Baton Rouge for a winter convention. He brought a whole contingent of chapter members and friends to help man the youth center and accompany the kids on outings. I will always be grateful to this wonderful man.
Over time, other FMCA members gave of their time to serve on the Youth Committee. They included Jack and Gladys Upton, whose children had grown up in FMCA, and Fran and R.J. Baum with the Full Timers chapter, who worked with the program for many years.
The Youth Committee has been very creative over the years. They have initiated all kinds of activities, such as a day trip to Custer State Park, white-water rafting, a visit to Hoover Dam, tours of World War II battleships, water park trips, and an outing to a professional baseball game. There were miniature-golf trips and skating at local roller rinks, bowling outings, trips to local zoos and amusement centers, and, of course, lunch at McDonald’s. Back on the convention grounds, activity rooms were equipped with toys, games, and so forth appropriate for each of the four age groups. Pizza parties, karaoke nights, movie nights, and ice cream socials all took place in these specially designated, kid-friendly areas.
Of course, time was marching on, and there were changes in society affecting our youth program. We had to rely more on family members as chaperones, and FMCA, of course, worried about temporary staff. Background checks now are done to assure the safety of our future FMCAers. But the fun still was there and our kids had quality activities.
During this whole time our hair became grayer or thinner and our children became adults. Now they have children and we are grandparents. Life became more complex, and there were so many more things to do with summer vacations. But the FMCA summer youth program has remained a constant.
Which leads to this August in Madison, Wisconsin. Have you considered bringing along a youngster, but hesitated? Perhaps you worried about keeping the children amused while still finding time to enjoy the activities yourself. Well, both can be accomplished when your child or grandchild takes part in FMCA’s youth program. In fact, the younger ones will be so tired at the end of the day that you won’t have to worry about them; they will be glad to go to bed!
In addition to all the things children can do as part of the convention’s activities, there are many you can enjoy right in the town of Madison. Look to the article about all the museums and activities there (including a free zoo) in this issue (“Mad About Madison,” page 74). Also, did you know that if you do an Internet search for Wisconsin, you will find oodles of things listed as kid-friendly? (It’s true; I really Googled it!) Some good convention side trips could be the House on the Rock, which is a pretty eclectic house. The Wisconsin Dells area offers duck boat tours, as well as water parks, amusement rides, mini golf, and much more. Not far from there is the Circus World museum in Baraboo. (Look for travel articles about all these attractions in future issues of Family Motor Coaching.) You also may want to see the East Troy Electric Railroad Museum, the Cave of the Mounds, and the Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame, to name just a few more.
We have an action-packed time planned for kids at the Madison Family Reunion. Why not bring your family’s youngest RV travelers? I promise that you “” and they “” will take home memories to last a lifetime.
FMCA needs your help. In the near future, a readership survey will be mailed to a randomly selected group of FMCA members. This survey will help us to learn a bit more about you. It also will provide us demographic information that assists us in marketing FMC magazine and FMCA’s Web sites to advertisers. Of course, the more advertising we attract, the bigger and better FMC magazine can be. If you happen to be one of the families chosen to answer the survey, we hope you will be excited about the opportunity to provide your input. We realize that time is at a premium these days, but we ask that you please take the time to fill out the survey and to return it in the envelope that is provided.
We have received excellent results to surveys in the past, with response rates as high as 51 percent for one survey, and we hope to meet or exceed those results. The key lies with those of you who receive the survey. Please fill it out and help us to achieve our goals. We appreciate your input.