"What does FMCA do for me? Well, speaking for myself, the memories and the new friends that I have made are worth a trillion dollars. I will cherish the memories as long as I live." — an FMCA member
If one were to query members of Family Motor Coach Association with regard to what they have gained from their affiliation with that organization, a host of different answers invariably would crop up. Some of the members of this international association of motorhome owners would talk about how the FMCA mail forwarding service helps to ease their worries by assisting them in keeping up with their mail while they rove about North America. Others would likely speak favorably of the magazine and the wealth of information the publication supplies them. Indeed, the membership services provided by Family Motor Coach Association are of great value to many of its members. But perhaps the most important facets of Family Motor Coach Association are the fellowship and camaraderie that are so central to the very being of the organization. Because of this, many FMCA members would likely express sentiments similar to those appearing at the opening of this article.
Through their association with FMCA, many motorhomers have developed lifelong friendships and have found frequent traveling companions. Indeed, this network of friends serves as the basis for the existence of the organization. Members of Family Motor Coach Association share a common interest — that being the motorhome lifestyle. When FMCA members get together, they exchange information about places to visit, activities to enjoy, and even mechanical or livability pointers that they've discovered in their travels. Most important of all, however, are the good times that they share.
In addition to providing opportunities for fellowshipping with existing FMCA members, who can be identified by the oval membership emblems — "goose eggs" — displayed on their motorhomes, the association serves as an opener for meeting new motorhomers at campgrounds and other destinations. In fact, many of the members of FMCA were introduced to the association by fellow motorhomers they met in their travels.
The Family Motor Coach Association is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2013. The organization came into being in July 1963. Under the guidance of Bob and Jean Richter of Hanson, Massachusetts, a group of "house car" owners, as these vehicles were called back then, gathered in Hinckley, Maine, at the Hinckley School, for the purpose of viewing an eclipse, as well as socializing and becoming acquainted with others who shared their interest in traveling by "house car."
Twenty-six families attended this original meeting. In those days, motorized recreation vehicles were not all that common, and the families who gathered in Hinckley realized that it would be to their benefit to form an association, so that they might share information regarding maintenance techniques and ways to enhance their motorhome lifestyles. On July 20, 1963, the Family Motor Coach Association was born. The organization was so named after the "house car" owners decided to term their vehicles "motor coaches." Out of the 26 families that attended the Hinckley meeting, 18 signed on as founding members of the association. The organization accepted its first commercial member, Crown Coach Corporation, in January 1964.
Today, the Family Motor Coach Association has nearly 80,000 active member families.
The organization recognizes more than 450 chapters. These subgroups are organized according to geographic location, make of motorhome, or a special interest. Among the special-interest groups served by FMCA chapters are computer buffs, single RVers, golfers, collegiate supporters, and four-wheel enthusiasts.
FMCA chapters serve a vital function within the organization, as membership in these groups greatly enhances members' enjoyment of the association. Although FMCA's international motorhome conventions, also known as “Family Reunions,” allow association members to share good times together, because of the magnitude of these gatherings they take place only once or twice each year. FMCA chapters, on the other hand, hold rallies at various times throughout the year. Many of these rallies are held on weekends and at sites not far from chapter members' home bases, thus supplying FMCA members with occasions for using their motorhomes more frequently and without traveling great distances. Many times these rallies are planned to coincide with a special event that is of general interest to chapter members, which allows FMCAers to enjoy these events in the company of people who share their love for the RV lifestyle.
In addition to the opportunities for forming long-lasting friendships, chapter affiliation presents FMCA members with forums for exchanging information. Those chapters that are based on mutual interest in a common motorhome model or in a particular hobby or activity serve as pools of information drawn from the experiences and knowledge of chapter members.
Another valuable source of information enjoyed by FMCA members is the association's monthly publication, Family Motor Coaching. Since its first appearance, Family Motor Coaching magazine has been an important part of the association. The first issue of the magazine was published on February 15, 1964, under the editorship of Bob Richter. It was published on a quarterly basis until February 1971, when it became bimonthly. With the January 1978 issue, it became a monthly publication.
Today, Family Motor Coaching remains a viable monthly magazine that provides its readers with livability reviews of the latest motorhomes, motorhome maintenance and modification information, helpful hints to enhance the motorhome lifestyle, association and industry news, colorful travel features, and personality profiles. Members of the association receive this informative and entertaining publication (which normally carries a subscription price of $30.00 per year) as a member benefit. And, in a recent survey, FMCA members rated the magazine as their favorite of the myriad benefits they receive.
In addition to the monthly magazine, Family Motor Coach Association offers its members benefits the likes of trip routing, mail forwarding, an antitheft program, group rates on motorhome insurance, discounted RV tours and caravans, a tire purchasing program, and more.
Membership in the association costs $50.00 for the first year (which covers the dues for the first year and an initiation fee) and $40.00 per year thereafter. In celebration of 50 years of serving motorhome enthusiasts, the association is offering new members a free second year when they sign up for membership on or before the group’s anniversary on July 20, 2013.
The association maintains its headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is governed by officers who are elected from within the ranks of the association and who offer their services on a voluntary basis.
Association members will take part in FMCA's 88th Family Reunion & Motorhome Showcase June 19, 20, 21, and 22 at CAM-PLEX Multi-Event Facilities in Gillette, Wyoming. More than 2,500 motorhomes and some 8,000 people are expected to gather for the event. All owners of self-contained RVs and members of the general public are invited to participate. Various admission options are available.
Activities abound at these get-togethers. In fact, attendees often have a difficult time deciding how to divide their time. The choices are many. One of the important elements of these conventions is an exhibition of motorhomes. Major manufacturers and dealers gather to display their vehicles, and coach components and accessories also are available for inspection.
Opportunities for taking part in various social events — including morning coffee hour and an ice cream social — present themselves to convention attendees during the daytime hours. A compendium of informative seminars centering around topics of interest to motorhomers — including motorhome chassis maintenance and microwave-convection oven cooking — are held.
Evenings at the convention are no less action-packed. A “Motorhome Preview” will take place on Wednesday, June 19, from 5:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., with the display coaches open for viewing.
On Thursday evening, convention attendees will start out with a fun-filled session of square, round, and line dancing, followed by a performance by The Buckinghams, a group Billboard once dubbed “the most listened-to band in America.” The Buckinghams gained popularity in the 1960s for songs such as “Kind of a Drag,” “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” “Don’t You Care,” and “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy.”
Friday will bring a Black Tie & Blue Jeans dance featuring entertainer Johnny Goodrum. Convention attendees will celebrate with anniversary cake prior to the dance.
The week of activities will come to a rousing conclusion with a performance by country music star and five-time Grammy Award winner Marty Stuart on Saturday evening. Marty will wow the audience with his musical talents and treat them to an evening filled with many of his hit songs.
Sandwiched between all of these scheduled activities are numerous impromptu good times. Many chapters and informal groups take advantage of lulls in the bustling activity at FMCA events to gather with friends to enjoy food and drink, to catch up on who's been where and what they've seen and done, and to simply enjoy one another's company.
And, even before the event comes to a close, association members usually are making plans to attend their next chapter or area rally or international motorhome convention.
About Family Motor Coach Association: Enhancing The Motorhome Lifestyle
Now in its 50th year, Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) is an international organization for families who own and enjoy the use of self-contained, motorized recreation vehicles known as motorhomes. The association maintains its national headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, and currently has more than 80,000 active member families. FMCA offers a number of benefits for motorhome owners, including a subscription to its monthly magazine, Family Motor Coaching; trip routing; mail forwarding; and group rates on motorhome insurance and an emergency medical evacuation plan. Perhaps the most important benefit of FMCA membership is the camaraderie and friendships that develop among people enjoying the common interest of motorhome travel and recreation.
Pamela Kay, Director of Communications
(800) 543-3622, ext. 234
(513) 474-3622, ext. 234