FMCA Celebrates 60 Years Of RV Fun
FMCA RV Club has its roots in a gathering that took place 60 years ago in Maine, on July 20, when a group of RV owners came together to view a total eclipse of the sun and to talk about forming an organization for like-minded travelers.
Published on: 07/18/2023
Cincinnati, Ohio — The year was 1963. Families had begun to discover a convenient new way to vacation. Pioneering folks purchased buses that had been decommissioned from their original roles of transporting schoolchildren or other passengers and then outfitted them as rolling homes. Many called them “house cars.” Production motor coaches were just coming into being then. Not everyone was a fan of the newfangled traveling machines, though, and these inventive families sometimes faced resistance in the communities they visited.
A few of the folks pursuing this new form of travel decided it would be beneficial to band together to work to ensure their rights; to allow for collective buying power; to exchange information and ideas; and to enjoy each other’s company.
Among them were Bob and Jean Richter of Hanson, Massachusetts, who had converted a 1940 Greyhound bus with 2.6 million miles on it to accommodate travel with their four children. They met a couple of other families who had similar conversions, and the Richters ultimately started a list of people with rolling homes like theirs. In April 1963, they mailed out a mimeographed letter inviting families to gather in Maine to view the solar eclipse that would take place in July.
The path of visibility of that total eclipse was so narrow that it would cross less than 1 percent of the entire surface of the Earth, and within the United States, it would be seen only over a thin strip of Alaska and 53 miles across the middle of Maine.
The eclipse created a frenzy in Maine, and it served as an exciting reason for house car owners to gather. During that get-together at the Good Will-Hinckley School in Hinckley, Maine, they decided to form FMCA, 60 years ago this month.
Bob Richter described that first gathering: “It was an experience impossible to describe as we first heard — and then saw — the 26 coaches arriving, one after another, with our new friends. The coaches varied from a simple school bus on its fifth engine with only a mattress, a crib, and a stove in it, to a lush executive coach costing well into the six figures. What a sight to see them coming up the hill! And what great people!”
The Richters and the other founding and early members of FMCA set a firm foundation for the organization that carried it into the future and helped to make it the organization it is today. In its 60 years, FMCA has issued more than 543,000 memberships, touching many lives along the way. Six years ago, members voted to transition from a group of motorhome owners to an all-inclusive RV owners organization. The portion of the membership who own towable RVs continues to grow.
“One thing that has remained constant throughout six decades of FMCA’s efforts to enhance the RV lifestyle are the ‘great people’ Bob Richter described from that inaugural gathering in Maine,” FMCA CEO Chris Smith said. “While RVs provide the basis for the bond that ties the organization together, it’s the people who form the fabric of FMCA. Thousands of RV enthusiasts have helped to write the story that began with a group of house car owners gazing at the sky one July afternoon, and dreaming of what could be.”
ABOUT FMCA:ENHANCING THE RV LIFESTYLE
FMCA is the world's largest not-for-profit association for recreation vehicle (RV) owners. The organization maintains its national headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, and currently has nearly 125,000 active members. FMCA offers its members a number of benefits, including a subscription to its monthly magazine, Family RVing; a medical emergency and travel assistance program valued at $200 per family; a tire purchasing program; group rates on a roadside assistance program, RV and auto insurance, and health insurance; discounted rates for RV tours and caravans; and discounts on mobile internet access plans. Perhaps the most important benefit of FMCA membership is the camaraderie and friendships that develop among people enjoying the common interest of RV travel.
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