By Charlie Schrenkel, L140050
The Executive Board has just completed our spring meetings at the Cincinnati, Ohio, national office as I write this month’s column. A lot of work was completed during those nine days. My wife, Jean, and I were at the office for about two weeks before the meetings began. During a casual conversation one day with Sue Yeatts, wife of FMCA executive director Jerry Yeatts, I learned that she is a kindergarten teacher at a local elementary school.
Sue asked whether Jean and I would come to school and read a story to her graduating kindergarten class. I have done similar readings in my own grandchildren’s classes, so Jean and I said, “Why not? When would you like us to appear at the school?” “How about tomorrow at 9:30 a.m.?” was the reply.
Promptly at 9:15 the next morning, Jean and I entered the principal’s office at Wilson Elementary School. We signed in as volunteers and awaited our escort to the classroom. I don’t know why, but I was thinking, “Kindergarten. They have to be VERY young and small.”
At that time, two very distinguished young gentlemen entered the office and introduced themselves to us. “Good morning, my name is Christopher and this is Roman,” Christopher said. Obviously, he was the spokesman, or so I thought. “If you will follow us, we will take you to our classroom.” So, follow we did. During the walk, approximately four minutes, Christopher and Roman asked how we were; whether we had come very far; and if we lived in the area. I almost instantly forgot they were in kindergarten.
When we reached Mrs. Yeatts’ classroom, the remainder of her students were waiting for us, 22 in all. We read a story about a late-blooming duckling named Ruby that eventually surpasses all expectations and excels in all she does. The kids had to remind me to hold the book facing them, so they could see the pictures. I did my best to add to the story, which I had never heard before. The children were very kind in overlooking my lack of knowledge of the subject.
After the story, the entire class wanted to know more about Jean and me. We explained that we lived in a motorhome. “What’s a motorhome?” we were asked. I replied that if they were very good for Mrs. Yeatts and studied hard, “someday” Jean and I would bring the motorhome to the school so they could all take a look inside and see what it was like.
“How about tomorrow?” they said, almost in unison.
“Sure . . . . Why not tomorrow?” I replied, afraid to glance over at Jean to see whether that was even in the realm of possibility, with all of the work of unhooking and related things one has to do when hitting the road.
And so it was “tomorrow.”
We showed up in the parking lot of the school at the appointed hour, put out all of the slides, put down all of the awnings, and tuned every TV we have to the Disney Channel. And along came the children.
They were wide-eyed and almost in awe of the 45-foot rubber-tired behemoth in their school parking lot. All 22 of Mrs. Yeatts’ kindergarten students climbed aboard. What a pleasure it was to show off our motorhome to these inquisitive visitors.
The TVs were the big hit, as was the refrigerator. The bathroom scale ran a very close second, with a line forming almost instantly beside it. The running water in the sink was also quite an attraction, since they noticed that no water pipes entered our house on wheels.
We received a very nice note from each child afterward, and we have heard there were very positive comments from the parents of the students.
So, why spend so much time on this subject this month?
It doesn’t matter whether the children have parents with a motorhome or some other type of RV, or whether they live in the U.S. or Canada. What matters is that we, you and I, expose as many young people as possible to the lifestyle we have chosen. We plant the seed each time we take our own children and grandchildren out on the road. Jean and I personally have experienced the joy and pleasure of having young family members travel and live with us each summer, when time permits.
Those planted seeds sprout! They grow, not all at once, but each in their own time; the important part is, they grow. We need to nurture future members and enthusiasts of the motorhome lifestyle.
You may already have noticed that July is the traditional “kids’ issue” for Family Motor Coaching magazine; it’s a way of reminding us all that the love of motorhoming is handed from one generation to the next. In this issue you’ll find stories related to traveling and cooking with kids, and even products that relate to having children on board. You can also play some fun word games and more in the “Kids’ Section”; it’s hard to save them for your youngsters, though!
FMCA plans youth programs at Family Reunions and some area rallies, designed specifically for all age groups, up and into the teens. Those of you lucky enough to have your children or grandchildren with you this summer may want to check the “Association Calendar” for area rallies and events you can plan to visit with them.
Keep sharing your love for motorhoming with the young-uns. I hope to see you down the road at FMCA’s 87th Family Reunion & Motorhome Showcase, August 27-30 in Indianapolis, Indiana. That event will include a youth program, as well as many events for the young at heart, of course.
Oh, by the way, eventually the grandchildren will figure out where the water comes from to flush the toilet.
Safe and healthy travels.