RV Clubs

 Posted by at 12:37 am  Nick's Blog
Oct 012014
 

A lot of newbies ask me which RV club(s) they should join, so today I thought I’d talk about some of the clubs and our opinion on them. Keep in mind that what we enjoy and find useful may not be right for you.

There are general interest RV clubs such as Good Sam and Escapees, which welcome all RVers, as well as special interest clubs such as Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA), which requires you to have a motorhome to qualify for membership.

While Terry and I have never been joiners, just for the sake of joining something, we have tried out many of the well known RV clubs out there. When we started fulltime RVing fifteen years ago, we joined the Good Sam Club, Escapees, Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA), and then Bus Nuts when we bought our MCI bus and started to convert it.

We dropped Good Sam after the first year because all our membership got us was a ton of junk mail; it seemed like from the very start, every time we got mail there was a solicitation to buy something else, renew early, and spend money. While their emergency roadside service plan is very good, the Good Sam rallies we have been to have been mostly coffee klatches and the average age is even older than me, if that is possible.

We were members of FMCA for over ten years, but we found a lot of snobbery there, based upon how big and expensive your motorhome is. We also really dislike the way they treated us and other vendors at every rally we had a booth at. If I wanted to be treated that rudely, I’d still be married to my first wife. At one time FMCA offered a good mail forwarding service, but they have closed that down. They still do offer some good benefits to members that you might find worthwhile.

The bus crowd was a lot of fun and we enjoyed every bus rally we ever attended. If we still had a bus we would still belong to Bus Nuts and the other bus clubs we once belonged to.

And then there is the Escapees RV Club. We always tell people that we belong to several RV clubs, but we are Escapees. To us, the Escapees is more than just a club. It is an extended family and we have always felt the benefits far outweighed our annual membership dues. Like all families, we have our disagreements from time to time but we get through it. If I could belong to only one RV club, it would be Escapees, hands down. They have the best mail forwarding service around, campgrounds in several states, a very good magazine, and the club is always fighting for the rights of RVers.

There are also many brand specific RV clubs, such as Winnebago-Itasca Travelers (WIT), the Carriage RV Club, the Heartland Owners Club, and the Newmar Kountry Klub, just to name a few.

Some RV clubs cater to people with special interests or needs, such as Families on the Road, SMART (which is for retired military and veterans), and Handicapped Travel Club, for people with physical challenges. Single RVers can find friends, fun and fellowship in groups like the Wandering Individuals Network (WIN) and Loners on Wheels. RVing Women offers support and friendship for women RVers.

One of the greatest benefits any RV club can offer its members is rallies. These can range from a small get together of less than a dozen rigs, to mega-rallies where literally thousands of RVs show up. Rallies give members an opportunity to socialize, to attend educational seminars, to shop vendors offering all kinds of interesting RV items for sale, and in the case of brand specific rallies, many times factory representatives and techs are on hand to deal with problems and repairs. Check out some of the clubs listed above and see which ones work for you.

It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time to start a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Ben Rehder’s Gun Shy, part of his excellent Blanco County mystery series featuring hardworking game warden John Marlin. But I have to warn you, don’t try this book unless you have time to read the entire series because I know you’ll get hooked on Ben’s great combination of humor and suspense. To enter, all you have to do is click on the Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Gun Shy

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Nick Russell

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  16 Responses to “RV Clubs”

  1. Oh Nick, We have attended Escapades, Good Sam Rally and NOTHING compares to the quality rallies you and Terry put on! It took a team and you had the group that always seemed to help, met new friends and learned lots – I miss them! But, I am happy to follow your writing career and it is probably much less stressful!

  2. We have been members of FMCA and Good Sam for 13 years. They have been great for us and we have attended several FMCA rallies and plan to attend next year’s national convention in Madison, WI. While I agree with Nick that FMCA can come across as a bit snobby to some people, we feel that it is well worth the membership. We have been to one national Good Sam Rally and it was worth the effort. IMO FMCA has a better magazine. I also agree with Nick that Escapees is the best of the three with a great magazine and a great group of people. We have been members for 5 years. In addition, as a member of Escapees we also have access to the Boomers group and the Day’s End Directory. Today we drive from Las Vegas to Albuquerque, NM for 11 nights with 39 other Boomers’ rigs at the Balloon Fiesta. The extra cost to us over and above the cost of dry camping is zero, because of the volunteer efforts of other Boomers. The Day’s End Directory provides many hundreds of locations to camp or park overnight at free to $10 for those of us who are not afraid to live W/O electricity from time to time. We have used it scores of times for overnight parking and saved hundreds of dollars a year. Nothing is right for everyone but I encourage readers to investigate all three clubs and join all that look promising for each of you. While it is only a one year commitment it could turn into a life time of friends and experiences.

  3. We have belonged to FCRV since 1972. It used to be called NCHA (National Campers and Hikers Association) but as the years went on FCRV (Family Campers and RVers) better described the group. Our children grew up in this organization and still remain friends with many they met. Any type of camping geer all the way from tents to the top end RV. But as any organization these days — this generation are just not joiners so membership has declined along with every other thing like Lyons, VFW, American Legion and I could go on and on. The one thing we steered away from is the ‘brand’ clubs because when we traded units we wanted to be flexible and usually bought used ones.

  4. Nick – I agree FCRV should be on the list as th oldest of the open clubs, also I’m sorry to see you leave out the AmeriGO RV Club, a rapidly growing new national open membership club. In disclosure, I am part of their team.

  5. I completely agree with the statement, “we are Escapees. To us, the Escapees is more than just a club. It is an extended family.” I always describe Escapade as a family reunion, where you actually want to see the people. In fact, I love my SKP friends/family so much that I debated giving up a trip to Hawaii so we could be at Escapade in Tucson next March (we still work and have to choose how to use a set number of vacation days/year).

    My husband has been a lifetime member of Good Sam since before I met him, but we have never done anything with them. We did “observe” a local rally that was going on a couple campsites down from where we were parked one time, but didn’t feel very welcome after introducing ourselves. We went to online for all communications from GS, so we do not get all the junk filling up our recycling. I did like a couple of the columns in the magazine, but Escapees has a much superior magazine.

    As with most things, I think the more involved one gets, the more you will enjoy the group. We have both been very active with Escapees since we joined in 2002 (National) and 2003 (state), serving as officers and hosting rallies for the local chapter and volunteering from a few hours to a week plus as Escapade staff.

  6. Years ago we joined FMCA right after we bought out motorhome and went to one of their rallies. Boy,you talk about a stuck up group! They have a decided pecking order and our 3 year old gas motorhome was at the bottom of the list. Not ONE person said hello to us and when we would say hi we got a reply about half the time and that was it. I asked the lady in charge of something where a seminar was and she said “It’s in the guide” and walked away. We let our membership drop and I wrote a letter telling them why. Never got a reply.

  7. Escapees ARE great … but I have encountered some cold shoulders when we have opted to rent space in one or another of their locations for a week or so. I think it is just the “clique” mentality that inevitably shows up in any group of people. 99% of Escapee folks are lovely and warm and friendly. Good Sam has always been good to us and we enjoy the wide number of places who honor their discounts. I just opted OUT of getting any mail from them! Easy to do … now I only get emails from Camping World. FMCA might be less than cordial to vendors at rallys, but we have enjoyed their gatherings … and we started out in a 15 year old motor home that needed some love. I believe they have opened their membership to folks with other types of rigs, as well. No club is for everyone, as you say ….

  8. for us the best rallies we have ever attended was the Gypsy Journal Rallies, the seminars you gave were the best we ever attended. We belonged to FMCA for a couple of years, we attended one rally that we really enjoyed. the second one was the worst the folks giving seminars did not teach anything really except to buy their product and dis the other vendors. The final straw came when this person next to us got out a measuring tape to make sure our rig was not to close to theirs. We are life members of the Escapees and they are a good group of folks I have to agree.

  9. our Escapee # is 1539! that must say something for them=however we are in the -as my husband likes to say -“the older age group” ha- and do not do any travelling but were never full timers in our time, sounds like alot of fun but life goes on and we are still getting the escapee news and enjoying it. Good luck to all, Escapees is the best.

  10. FMCA can be a bit snobbish, but we’ve had a blast at the rallys because we give as well as we get. We love to walk up to soneone with a string of ribbons hanging from theit badge and ask them if they’re a muckity-muck or something. The FMCA fleet plan for Michelin tires saves enough to pay the dues fir a decade. The area rallys are more fun, as are the special inteerest groups.

    As you so well stated, we are Escapees (life members). Folks thinking about joining should note that there is an anniversary special rate of $39.95 (50% savings) if you sign up by 31 Oct.

  11. We joined FMCA when we got our motorhome. (2002) We attended one small rally in Henry, IL.. For the most part, the people we encountered were friendly and helpful. We have since canceled our membership due to the changes in their benefits. At the same time, we joined Good Sam. Could not believe the junk mail we got. Canceled after one year.
    We got an offer from Good Sam earlier this year. They missed us and gave us a “FREE” year membership. Our mailbox is full everyday with junk from them. We will not renew that membership.
    Sad that a group selling your information can turn one off.
    Best rally we went to: Gypsy Journal. (Casa Grande) Most informative, most fun and the most down to earth people.

  12. We are life members of Escapees and Good Sam. Also we are FMCA members. We feel each group offers us something different. Escapees is all about the RV family, CARE, Escapades, and for us the SKP Genie (genealogy) BOF as well as the Mexican Connection Chapter. Good Sam has discounts on parks and Camping World. FMCA has very good rallies and for us the BAC chapter (Beaver Motorhome group). I also like to read the magazines. Before retirement the FMCA magazine really helped us learn about RVs and RVing.

    So it all depends. I think being a member of all 3 before RVing and during the first year of RVing would help newbees to discover their RV style.

  13. I agree with those who commented that the Gypsy Journal Gatherings were THEEEEE BEST!!! So well organized and such great seminars and friendly people.

    We joined both Good Sam club and Escapees our first year RVing. We really tried to fit into the Escapees group, but found it just wasn’t the right fit for us. And we LOVE the Good Sams!!! We don’t get junk mail, the people are active, fun and friendly, and they like our shows!!! We played once for Escapees and it didn’t go nearly as well. Different breed of people maybe?

    Like you said before, there may not be enough room for you and Larry in the same crowd, so it all works out in the end! LOL 🙂 {{{{HUGS}}}} to you both!

  14. A correction to my previous post…

    The anniversary membership rate is $29.95. Sorry about that.

  15. I agree Escapees is and will always be number one. We just left the Montana Owners Club Rally in Goshen this morning and I’ve never meet such a fun and welcoming group. It also helps that Montana-Keystone employees were friendly, generous and professional. They even shut the plant down for our factory tour.

  16. We just attended our first ( and last) Good Sam Rally this last weekend. At 58 yrs old I’m positive I was the youngest person in attendance. And because of that I think is why all of the activities were created with the 70 and older crowd in mind. We had a cake walk, bean bag toss, horseshoes, washer toss, and rolling pin toss. Then the big event was the Pet Parade and we knew that at least we would like that. It was about 6 dogs dressed in pajamas, bandanas, sunglasses etc, with their biggest trick being sitting when told. It lasted all of 30 minutes. Then it was on to the turtle race. They had an RV Dealer open house and it was TWO fifth wheels and a table full of RV accessories. That was it. The entertainment the first night was a fashion show! After that we didnt bother to attend the entertainment the next two nights. They did have a few seminars that sounded interesting, but they were all held in a huge exhibition hall amongst all of the card playing, bean bag throwing etc so for ME that doesnt hear well…there was no way to sit and actually understand much of what was being said with all of the background noise. But….it was a relaxing 4 days for which we only had to pay about $20 a night for full hookups, so we just took it as that and did our own thing for the most part. Maybe this isnt the norm for all of the Good Sam rallys but I grew up attending the old NCHA state and national rallys and those were FUN with activities for everyone in mind. And I totally agree that GS sends entirely too much junk mail!

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