Production on Go RVing’s new “Away” national advertising campaign continues with shooting for new print ads and website photography now under way on the West Coast.
Shooting is now taking place in the vicinity of Sisters, Ore., for an ad detailing a father-daughter outdoor bonding experience. Fishing and canoeing will be the focus of this ad, featuring an EverGreen Element travel trailer, Monaco Vesta Type A motorhome, Lance truck camper and an Itasca Navion compact Class C motorhome.
Production crews were in the Yosemite/Mammoth Lakes area of California for a family hiking ad featuring an EverGreen iGo travel trailer earlier this week (pictured above).
Print ad production will wrap early next week at the Crescent City/Redwoods KOA in California. This ad will feature a young family by the campfire as evening falls, with a Jayco folding camping trailer provided by All Seasons RV Center in Redding, Calif. At nearby campsites, other families with a Forest River R-Pod travel trailer and Itasca Navion Class C motorhome will be settling in.
Go RVing kicked off “Away” production with three days of shooting from Aug. 1-3 in and around the KL Ranch Camp, a campground on the scenic Guadalupe River in Texas Hill Country. Families of diverse age and ethnicity were photographed along with an Itasca Cambria Class C motorhome; a Keystone Laredo fifth-wheel; a Roadtrek Adventurous Class B motorhome; and an Airstream Flying Cloud travel trailer.
RVs being used in the production shoots were generously provided by RVIA manufacturer members in response to a recent vehicle lottery invitation. Tow vehicles for the travel trailers – a variety of SUVs and crossovers – are being provided by Go RVing Coalition member General Motors.
While shooting the print ads, Go RVing is also capturing new stock photos for Internet ads, a revamped GoRVing.com website, and the image library in the industry-only area of the site for participating dealers and campgrounds.
The new ad campaign, developed by The Richards Group in collaboration with an all-industry Creative Work Group of the Go RVing Coalition, returns to the emotion-driven, family focus of past campaigns, along with a continued emphasis on the affordability and accessibility of the RV lifestyle for families spanning several generations.
Go RVing’s “Away” ad campaign is the first all-new campaign to be produced since 2005. In addition to the new print and Internet ads now being shot, three television commercials will start production in September.
The new ads and website will be unveiled at RVIA’s Outlook 2012 opening breakfast at the National RV Trade Show on Nov. 29 and begin running in early 2012.
Go RVing is hitting the road to begin shooting all-new ads and website photography for the upcoming “Away” campaign, scheduled to be unveiled at the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) 2011 National RV Show in Louisville, Ky., and start running in early 2012.
Go RVing’s “Away” ad campaign is the first all-new campaign to be produced since 2005. In addition to the new print and Internet ads about to be shot, three television commercials will start production in September.
Four print ads will be shot between July 31 and August 16, starting next week in the Texas Hill Country. Families of diverse age and ethnicity will be featured along with four unbranded RVs generously provided by RVIA manufacturer members in response to a recent vehicle lottery invitation. These include: an Itasca Cambria Type C motorhome; Keystone Laredo fifth-wheel; Roadtrek Adventurous Class B motorhome; and an Airstream Flying Cloud travel trailer. The action will occur in and around the KL Ranch Camp, a campground on the scenic Guadalupe River.
From Texas, the production team will move on to the spectacular Yosemite/Mammoth Lakes area of California for a family hiking ad. The featured RV will be an EverGreen iGo travel trailer.
The next shoot will capture images of a father-daughter outdoor bonding experience in the vicinity of Sisters, Ore. Fishing and canoeing will be the focus of this ad, featuring a Lance truck camper, Monaco Vesta Class A motorhome, EverGreen Element travel trailer and an Itasca Navion compact Class C by Winnebago.
The fourth print ad, to be shot at the Crescent City/Redwoods KOA in California, will feature a young family by the campfire as evening falls, with a Jayco folding camping trailer provided by All Seasons RV Center in Redding, Calif. At nearby campsites, other families with a Forest River R-Pod travel trailer and Itasca Navion Class C will be settling in.
Tow vehicles for the travel trailers – a variety of SUVs and crossovers – will be provided by Go RVing Coalition member General Motors.
While shooting the print ads, Go RVing will also be capturing new stock photos for Internet ads, a revamped GoRVing.com website and the image library in the industry-only area of the site for participating dealers and campgrounds. RVs were requested to represent today’s market conditions and consumer preferences, including amenities such as slideouts, computer connections, flat screen TVs, satellite dishes, GPS, iPod docks, rear cameras and automatic leveling.
The new ad campaign, developed by The Richards Group in collaboration with an all-industry Creative Work Group of the Go RVing Coalition, returns to the emotion-driven, family focus of past campaigns, along with a continued emphasis on the affordability and accessibility of the RV lifestyle for families spanning several generations.
New digital technology will play a major role in the campaign – including the creation of a new mobile version of GoRVing.com. With the profileration of smartphones in the market, the new print ads will feature a QR barcode to drive consumers to the mobile site for streaming videos and a dealer/campground search.
The new ads and website will be unveiled at the Outlook opening breakfast of the Louisville Show on Nov. 29.
Rollin’ On TV announced that it has increased its station and network lineup.
Beginning the first week in August viewers in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota can watch the show, which is dedicated to the RV lifestyle, on the MIDCO Sports Network on Tuesdays at 7 p.m., Thursdays at noon, and Sundays at 10 a.m.
Also, viewers living in the Evansville, Ind., area can watch the show on Saturday and Sunday mornings on WTVW Local 7. (Check local listings for times)
Rollin’ On TV said it also plans to add four additional stations starting in September for the fall programming season. The information will be posted on the company’s website at http://www.rollinontv.com/index.html.
In additon Rollin’ On TV is partnering with the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) in sponsoring the first “Road Chef” competition to be held at the FMCA’s 86th Family Reunion and Motorhome Showcase in Madison, Wisc., August 10-13.
FMCA members have been submitting their recipes over the past month and the three finalists selected will face off at the Madison reunion. Rollin’ On TV will be covering the whole event and airing it in an upcoming episode.
For additional information contact Jose Moniz at: Jose@rollinontv.com
Click here to watch a video, courtesy of the Newark, N.J., Star-Ledger, and read the following story in its entirety from the newspaper.
For the past decade, retired mechanic David Standaert has been in transit, towing his 27-foot travel trailer to scenic places coast to coast.
The 71-year-old Pequannock, N.J., native is living the Jack Kerouac dream, clocking thousands of miles in his mobile bachelor pad.
As Standaert tours national wildlife refuges, he meets other free spirits and explores a variety of environs, encompassing dark forests, red deserts and rocky shorelines. His Kodak moments include closeups of wolves, alligators and snakes.
He offsets the cost of his adventures by working part time at each refuge he visits. Helping out 20-something hours a week earns him a sweet spot to park his trailer for a few months, often with a free electrical hookup.
“I have no problems explaining this lifestyle to people,” says Standaert. “They may have a problem understanding it.”
He is based at the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge in Sussex, N.J., through October.
“If I had to take planes and trains and pay for motels, I wouldn’t have been able to afford to see what I’ve seen in the last 10 years,” Standaert says.
The coupling of RV travel and seasonal employment is known as “workamping,” a movement that dates back two decades. The average age of a workamper is 59 and the estimated population of the roving community is climbing, according to Steve Anderson, editor of Workamper News. About 750,000 people are on the roll.
Self-employed baby boomers Patricia and Renato Faustini are selling their 2,000-square-foot house in Prescott, Arizona, taking their life, their 16-year-old son and their jobs on the road in a 24-foot Winnebago.
Reuters reported that the Faustinis will pack up and head for Montana later this week with no specific destination in mind. Patricia works as an online tutor and blogger, while Renato runs his own architectural design business. Neither is dependent on a permanent spot to fulfill workplace obligations.
“You decide from day to day, week to week, where you want to do it,” said Patricia Faustini, a 61-year-old former schoolteacher whose mobile setup requires little more than a laptop and a cellphone. “There’s no reason why you have to sit in the house and pay the mortgage.”
It may seem outlandish, irresponsible, cramped – even scary – to those who find comfort in convention, but more small business owners seem to be embracing this type of remote arrangement. They’re only too willing to break free of the constraints that once limited the office to a Dilbert-esque cubicle marked by a predictable nine-to-five routine.
“I’ve got the basic bells and whistles I need to function,” said Patricia Faustini. “The whole issue is about a good time and an open world view.”
For the past decade or so, telecommuting – once viewed as taboo and nonproductive – has steadily risen in popularity as businesses and employees look for ways to lower costs and juggle a more complicated work-life balance.
According to Reuters, the remote work trend is now going a step further, helped by improved portable technology that allows for productivity in unusual locations. Wireless networks have facilitated makeshift offices on the road, at a local library or at so-called “hot desks” in shared temporary workspaces popping up in cities throughout the U.S.
“With today’s tablet technology and smartphones you can be anywhere,” said Charles Grantham, a social scientist who studies the impact of technology on work. “You don’t have to be in a corporate office.”
Grantham, who co-founded the Prescott, Arizona-based think tank Work Design Collaborative, estimates that more than 15 percent of knowledge workers engage in some form of mobile office behavior.
“I almost can’t imagine not being mobile,” said Janna Kimel, a Portland, Oregon-based consultant who conducts customer-focused research for companies such as Intel.
On any given day, she might work in her home office, in a shared space with other creative types or on site at a client’s location. “I kind of thrive on things being different,” she said.
The loneliness factor remains a challenge for mobile workers, but Skype and social media have taken some of the edge off a largely solitary existence.
“You don’t feel the isolation that you used to,” said Chuck Woodbury, a self-employed writer who began his stint as a road warrior nearly 25 years ago in an RV outfitted with a manual typewriter. “You were completely cut off.”
“I can get up and move whenever I want,” he said. “I thrive on being on the road.”
Gary Swart, the CEO of oDesk, a global jobs marketplace targeted at businesses that outsource work, expects remote work opportunities to continue to increase, facilitated by the economy, the Internet and increasing globalization.
“More and more people want to work this way,” said Swart, whose own Redwood City, California-based firm augments its staff of 55 full-time workers with 160 contractors working remotely throughout the globe. “Companies are trying to do more with less.” One byproduct of the change in work style is a lessening of the stigma once associated with professionals who dare to work outside traditional office convention.
Reuters reported that Miami-based consultant Alan Goldberg, for one, said his clients care little about where he’s working, just so long as he’s getting an often-difficult job done. On any given day, Goldberg, a 60-year-old turnaround consultant who works with troubled companies, could be analyzing financials from his home on a sailboat, in his car or at his traditional office in the city.
“They know the type of work I do,” said Goldberg, whose 47-foot catamaran is equipped with satellite TV, WiFi and single sideband radio. “At the end of the day you walk down the pier – its cathartic. Your chest expands three or four inches, you get the sea breeze and you question what the real world is.”
TrailerChix (http://www.trailerchix.com ), a lifestyle e-magazine focused on the millions of women who aspire to live in small footprints without giving up glamour and elegance, will kick off their viewer interactive 14-day trip in Lund, Canada, on Aug. 21 and will end in Hollywood, Calif., along Highway 101 on Sept. 5.
Four editors from TrailerChix, with the help of their video production crew, will provide valuable ideas, demonstrate galley culinary skills and show some design ideas for the small living, according to a news release.
There are over an estimated 8.3 million RV owners in the United States. Once thought to be only for the retired community, RV living’s popularity is growing for the 34- to 54-year-olds.
“This group wants more style. They want more opportunities to be their authentic selves,” said Shelah Johnson, editor in chief. “We are seeing an increase in full-timers living year round in travel trailers, tiny houses, floating homes, sail boats, refabs, like the popular shipping container conversions – anything that supports our growing eco and social sensitivities. These small footprints give people a much needed sense of freedom and independence. But that does not mean they want to give up design or good food as décor and cuisine is very much part of the conversation. Our goal is to show them they can live a great style while living green. ”
Each day TrailerChix’s film and production team will push video content to the web so viewers can closely follow their journey. “We want to give people the feeling they are traveling with us.” said Johnson “We hope to show that you can actually make a simpler life work and work beautifully”.
In the spirit of traveling, TrailerChix will introduce the readers to the locals, share some crazy roadside attractions and provide an inside look at some great small eco-friendly living ideas. In addition five nights will be open to fellow travelers who would like the opportunity to share the spotlight and show off their own green solutions and fabulous designs ideas.
As a result of aggressive outreach by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) and its public relations agency, Barton Gilanelli, RVs were featured in Labor Day news coverage in at least a dozen local markets around the country, the RVIA reported.
Stories ran in an array of medium-sized and larger markets such as Philadelphia, San Diego, Nashville, Charlotte, Des Moines, Green Bay and South Bend.
The coverage was positive, focusing on full campgrounds, high levels of usage by RV owners, and the fun, family RV camping atmosphere.
At the Little River Marina and Family Resort in Augusta, Ga., business was booming, according to WRDW-TV. “It’s been busy,” said Pamela Bugg, who owns the campground. “It’s what we like to see.”
In Green Bay, families were happy to get away for the weekend, even though they were staying close to home.
“You can still get out and have a good time,” RVer Lee Wisneski told WGBA-TV. “It feels like you’re away from home. It doesn’t seem like you’re just a couple miles down the road.”
The Labor Day effort was part of the RVIA PR team’s ongoing strategy of working with media in advance of major holidays to make sure RVs receive favorable coverage and remain at the top of consumers’ minds.
Watch today’s Featured Video courtesy of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) for a quick, behind-the-scenes look at one day spent in New York City by RVIA’s Richard Coon and Flexsteel’s Ron Klosterman promoting the RV industry.
Go RVing Canada, in partnership with the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) of Canada and the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC), has officially launched its “Top 100 Spots to RV in Canada” Contest, in commemoration of the RV Centennial.
This month-long contest, engaging RV enthusiasts across Canada, will allow participants to submit their favorite spot to RV in Canada for a chance to win an Apple iPad in a draw on Aug. 6.
2010 marks 100 years since the first mass-produced motorized camper was produced. Several events will be taking place throughout the year across North America and Go RVing Canada is thrilled to take part in the celebrations honoring this important occasion.
“This event reinforces what we’ve been saying for years – RVing remains a popular vacation choice for those who are looking for freedom, flexibility, and fun,” says Go RVing Canada spokesperson Angèle Lapointe. “RVing is a lifestyle that many Canadians have adopted and have maintained, and the best part is, it’s incredibly affordable!”
“The RV lifestyle continues to thrive and that’s what the Centennial is all about,” adds Eleonore Hamm, RVDA of Canada president. “We are excited to hear about the many incredible RV destination spots that Canadians are visiting and raving about.”
“RVing is an intimate and accessible way to explore our beautiful country,” says Gisele Danis, CTC executive director, Strategic Marketing, Canada Program. “The CTC is pleased to take part in the celebration of this milestone event and inspire Canadians to discover a Canada they didn’t know existed from coast, to coast, to coast.”
To participate in the contest, RV enthusiasts are invited to visit www.GoRVing.ca and fill out a ballot for a chance to win.
As the owners of a 32-foot Winnebago Vectra RV, Ron and Margie Johnson seldom lack for space when they travel — unless, that is, they’re traveling with their grown children, their children’s spouses and a passel of grandchildren.
Last summer, the three-generation, 11-member group came up with a clever solution to the space problem during a trip to California’s gold country. Setting up camp at the Marble Quarry RV Park, in Columbia, they reserved an RV site and one of the campground’s “park model” cabins, a cedar-sided unit with a kitchen, bathroom and large deck, according to msnbc.com.
“It worked out great,” says Johnson. “We stayed in the motorhome; they stayed in the cabin, and no one had to stumble out of a tent to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.”
Not your father’s camping cabin
If you haven’t stayed in a campground in a while, you may have missed the hottest trend in the business. Now offered by approximately one-third of the nation’s 8,000 public campgrounds, park models are making the outdoors more accessible to people who don’t own an RV, prefer not to sleep on the ground and wouldn’t mind a little comfort along the way.
The units are perhaps more accurately called park trailers, although the industry tends to frown on the “T-word.” Maxing out at 400 square feet, they’re built on chassis by RV companies and can be rolled into place. Once on site, they’re hooked up with electricity and real plumbing, which means no messy holding tanks, and outfitted with decks and wheel-hiding trim. (Guests generally bring their own linens, toiletries and cooking gear.)
The result is still technically an RV, but one that’s designed to remain stationary. And while some do, indeed, look like shrunken double wides, others take their design cues from log cabins, Cape Codders and other region-specific motifs. Either way, they’re a large step up from traditional campground cabins, which have historically offered the lodging equivalent of a tent with walls. Depending on the season, location and amenities, park models typically rent for $75–$150 per night.
“It’s the fastest-growing part of our business,” says Mike Atkinson, director of lodging at Kampgrounds of America (KOA) Inc., which offers park models at 249 of its 475 campgrounds.
“We now have 1,370 in the system, six or seven hundred of which have been installed in the last three years.”
The West Glacier KOA, outside Glacier National Park, Mont., for example, recently installed six units — “Kamping Lodges” in KOA vernacular — which are proving especially popular for family reunions and other large groups. “Some folks will be in RVs, some will be in tents, but everyone can use the cabin as a central meeting place,” says owner Theresa McClure. “They’re completely booked for July.”
Changing times, changing tastes
The appeal of park-model camping, say promoters, has also gotten a boost from the economic turmoil of the last few years. “People haven’t been taking big vacations,” says Linda Profaizer, president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC). “They’re looking for simpler vacations and staying closer to home. We’re seeing a lot of people who wouldn’t have considered a campground before.”
Younger people, too, says Atkinson, who notes that park-model renters skew slightly younger than KOA’s traditional customers: “We’re working with generations — Gen X, Millennials — that expect more. We want a bathroom; we want pillow-top mattresses. We want to enjoy the outdoors, but we also want a comfortable experience.”
That’s certainly true at the Pecan Park Campground in San Marcos, Texas, which offers two western-themed cabins — complete with flat-screen TVs, DVD players and six-foot front porches — overlooking the San Marcos River. “These are not the folks who pull in in a million-dollar motorcoach, set up camp and never come outside,” says owner David Rowley. “They’re kayakers and canoers — boomers, Gen-Xers and beyond.”
They’re also part of a larger demographic trend, suggests Shane Ott, director of campground relations for Thor Industries Inc., a major park-model manufacturer: “Mom’s working; the kids are engaged in school activities that extend far into the summer. Most families can’t take that two-week vacation anymore. Traveling within a day’s drive of home and staying in one of these units is sort of the new wave of camping.”
Scott Duever, who spent the Memorial Day weekend at Pecan Park with his wife and two other couples, would probably agree. By day, they kayaked on the San Marcos River; come evening, they cooked communal meals and enjoyed the cabin’s amenities, not to mention the fact that they didn’t have to sleep on the ground or squeeze into an RV.
“We used to have a pop-up camper, but it was old and used and we just didn’t like it that much,” says Duever. “And we’re a little past the camping in a tent phase. We’ve all had the adventures of being out in the boonies. This is a nice way to go.”
Pleasant smells wafted from the little kitchen inside Brett and April Denson’s Open Range recreation vehicle parked in the Cozy Acres Campground in Virginia’s Powhatan County.
Brett, a boilermaker by trade, had come in for the evening from his job on a crew building a storage tank for a Virginia client of Fisher Tank Co., his Lexington, S.C.-based employer.
April was preparing dinner while he relaxed and played with their dogs. They had been in Virginia for 2 ½ months, and his job was nearly done.
A couple of days later, having received his next job assignment from the foreman at Fisher Tank, the Densons battened down their belongings, dismantled the satellite dish, hitched the RV to their truck and headed off to Lawrence, Kan., according to the Richmond (Va.) Times Dispatch.
Brett Denson, 43, has been traveling around the country building storage tanks since he was 19, part of the time alone, other times with his wife, also 43, and their three children.
Their children are now adults — and living in the family home in Kentucky — so the Densons travel fulltime together.
“I guess it’s because it pays good,” explained Brett Denson about his career, while noting that using the RV beats staying at motels. “I don’t know how to do anything else. I took spells where I wanted to get a job at home, but I got over it.”
While some people use their RVs to chase work while seeing America, others simply live in their RVs and commute to their regular job. Some travel from place to place trading their work for a free campsite. But how many there are is anyone’s guess.
Anywhere from 25,000 to 250,000 working Americans travel around in RVs, motoring from state to state and job to job to earn a paycheck, according to Arkansas-based Workamper News, a website that caters to RV migrants.
“We definitely know that work camping is alive, well and growing in numbers,” Workamper News owner Steve Anderson said. “I know that because our subscriber base continues to grow.”
The biggest national RV trade organization, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) in Reston, Va., does not keep statistics on RV owners who travel from job to job. Spokesman Kevin Broom estimated that 400,000-800,000 people live full time on the road in an RV. “Many are also working,” he said.
Jean Daniels, who owns Cozy Acres with her husband, Larry, said RV workers are frequent residents there.
“They stay here until the job is completed and then they move on to the next job,” she said. “We had somebody building a Joseph A Bank Clothier store and one of the guys here is doing something with that American Family Fitness facility. . . . When they built [state] Route 288, a lot of the foremen on that job stayed here.
“There’s always people working in the area,” she said. “They don’t want to stay in a hotel. They have figured out that they can buy an RV and have the comfort of their own place, fix their meals and watch TV.”
Sonny Allen, manager of Americamps KOA Richmond, which is near Ashland, said about 30% of the campground’s tenants are workers traveling from job to job. They have included a computer analyst who sets up computer systems for companies, a nurse working under contract to a local hospital and an employee of a tobacco company transferred here from another state.
“The people we have in here right now — some of them are pavers,” Allen said. “They go around to different places and do paving projects” such as fast-food or grocery-store parking lots.
Erik Bjorklund, a 54-year-old carpenter, lives in a 26-foot Airstream RV at Americamps. He said he is kept busy by a small clientele of doctors, lawyers and other professionals. One job performed in 1993 for a urologist led to all the work he can handle.
“I’ve never had to look for work, and I’ve never been out of work,” he said. “I hardly have a day off.”
Bjorklund decided to live in, and work from, his RV after divorcing from his wife, who got their house in Richmond. “I’ve been here since October,” he said.
Brad Herzog of California has researched and written three books based on his RV travels.
For two months every summer, Herzog travels with his wife and sons, ages 8 and 9. He blogs and researches books.
“Fifteen years ago, we didn’t have a cell phone, no e-mail, no wireless Internet,” he said. “Now, when you hit the road, you can be as connected as you want to be. I think that’s why more and more people have found that it’s pretty easy to work from the road from an RV.”
Herzog also noted the money saved by not staying in hotels, not buying restaurant meals, not renting cars and not booking flights “makes up for what we spend in gas.”
Americamps charges $33 to $53 a day for a site with water, sewer and electricity, or a weekly rate of $275. Cozy Acres has daily rates starting at $37 and monthly rates starting at $475 plus electricity. Many campgrounds offer a variety of discount plans.
The Densons note that RV living is not for everyone, and life on the road can be tough.
A lot of the reason that some jobs pay so much is because people don’t want to be gone all the time, Brett Denson said. “Some do it for a little while and quit.”
Also, “you’re away from your extended family,” April Denson said, and “you really have to not mind being in close quarters.”
But the lifestyle offers a lot of variety. It has taken the Densons to more than 40 states.
“We really like going to different places,” she said. “We always have a good time.”
“It’s better doing it when you can take your family with you, especially your wife,” Brett Denson said. “It’s more like a regular life.”
Today’s Featured Video comes courtesy of AARP and features a sales contact team — Trudy Lundgren and Lisa Wade — from AGS. It’s part of a series Jane Pauley is hosting called “Your Life Calling” and aired last week.
Click here to watch a video about this group of retired RVers.
The Sojourners, a group of retired Christians who travel around the country in RVs, are visiting York College in York, Neb., and donating their labor.
Each summer, the Sojourners visit York College and do whatever it is that’s needed. This year, the group is helping to renovate Childress Hall to turn it into the new campus bookstore and post office. Part of the group is also helping out with data entry in the library and painting bookshelves for the new bookstore, according to the York News Times.
The Sojourners organization performs physical and spiritual work to help Christian organizations related to the Church of Christ. They often visit children’s homes, small congregations, youth camps and colleges. There are 695 active Sojourners, 14 of which are currently at York College. The amount of ground the Sojourners cover stretches across the United States and beyond. They travel to Canada, Sweden, Ghana and Belize. Each Sojourner pays his own way on every trip. Members can work with the group all year long or for just a couple of weeks a year. Organizations who request that Sojourners come visit them guide what work the group does at each location.
Sojourners come from all walks of life. In the group visiting York College, there is a retired banker, a rancher, a railroad worker and a bricklayer.
John Lucas, a Sojourner originally from Iowa who now calls his RV and wherever it may be his address, does Sojourner work throughout the entire year. For 30 years, Lucas designed houses and small commercial buildings. And now, he is rolling up his sleeves and doing all he can to help others.
Lucas got involved with Sojourners after one of his friends joined the organization. His friend was a 55-year-old retired optometrist and decided he wanted to do something. He got an RV, which meant he could move around and have an opportunity to visit his children who lived around the country.
“We get to travel, see the world and meet a lot of interesting people,” Lucas said.
He said the group enjoys working with each other and for other people, and everyone who is part of Sojourners are “people-type people.” The best part of the work the Sojourners do is being able to help Christians, Lucas said. The Sojourners also benefit from the work they do, as it also lifts them up.
“All of us are retired, so a lot of times retired people think they’re done with,” or they have no purpose, Lucas said.
He explained that one of the things that’s inspiring to them is when older people see the work they’re doing and realize that they are also capable of getting out there and doing something different.
Lucas sees a need for the work the Sojourners are doing when he looks around and sees the pain the world is suffering from. He said the group hopes they can “help others see a better way of life.”
There are a lot of people out there who are hurting and discouraged, Lucas said. And the Sojourners work to provide encouragement for them.
The services the Sojourners perform are completely free of charge, and Lucas said it is hard for people to adjust to things with no price tag. He said it’s a rare thing in this world for someone to help another person without wanting anything in return.
“There’s a real blessing to people who do things for other people,” he said.
Lucas said another facet of being a part of Sojourners is being able to no longer look at what’s in the Bible as a theory or keep God at arm’s length. Instead, Lucas said they are putting the theory into practice and it’s become no longer just a theory. It’s real, he said.
“It changed the relationship between us and God,” he said. “It’s like embracing somebody.”
He said the work the group is doing has helped them to understand their faith even more.
“It helps us to start understanding the concept,” he said.
The Sojourners fight through their own struggles on their journey. Everyone in the group visiting York College suffers from different health problems. Lucas had cancer last year, and another man has had hip troubles. But they’ve all pushed through it and aren’t letting it stop them.
“This work keeps you young,” he said.
One member of the Sojourners visiting York College, Herman Zeller of Edmond, Okla., is going to be 90 years old in a few months. Zeller said what he likes most about being a part of Sojourners is the fellowship and encouragement. And, he said, it’s nice “being able to do something in old age.” Lucas said Zeller is one of the hardest workers in their group.
Dude Eggar of Livingston, Mont., travels along with the Sojourners with his wife Janet. He said it’s a lot of work, but they enjoy it.
“We’re old, but we got teamwork. It makes a big difference,” Eggar said.
Lucas explained that there is something to be said when you get up in the morning and you’re excited to be doing what you’re doing. It helps you think sharper, he said, even though sometimes your body complains. But, he said, that happens to people of all ages.
One day they’ll all settle down when their health does not permit them to keep going, Lucas said. But until then, they’re going to keep sojourning as long as they can. When they leave York College next week, they’ll head for their next stop, where they’ll go to work and help enrich the place with their service. And from there, they’ll continue to do it all over again.
Rollin’ On TV, the cable TV network program about RVs and the RV lifestyle, is immersed in producing its spring 2010 season episodes, according to a news release.
The show’s production team will be in the Eugene, Ore., area the week of April 26-29 covering some local RV-related stories including the George M. Sutton RV dealership success and other subjects of interest to the national RV-viewing audience.
“This April production visit is the first of several planned for Oregon and the Pacific Northwest, in addition to our coverage of the rest of the country,” explained show co-host and Eugene resident Jeff Johnston. “As an RV lifestyle show, we feature the vehicles and hardware RVers use, but showcasing the natural beauty and recreational opportunities available to residents and visiting RVers is a significant priority of the program. We help people learn about the fun and adventure they can enjoy while using an RV.”
Among other artists, the show will feature music by local artist Kelly Thibodeaux and his band Ettoufee.
Rollin’ On TV can be seen on Cox Sports Television, Untamed Sports TV and the Dish Network.
For more information about the upcoming Eugene shoot, contact show producer Jose Moniz at email@example.com, Jeff Johnston at (541) 485-8203; cell (541) 914-1152; or visit http://www.rollinontv.com/.
Editor’s Note: Jonathan Thompson, editor of High Country News, filed this editorial today (March 15) about articles in the current issue of the magazine, written “for people who care about the West.”
At High Country News, we think a lot about that overused but still relevant term, “a sense of place.” I don’t know exactly what it means, either. But I think it involves knowing that we’re here, rather than, well, over there. And that we understand at least some of the characteristics that make this place — the West — different from other places.
John Daniel’s well-wrought essay in this issue cuts right to the heart of the sense-of-place matter. Daniel talks of the almost primordial pull of the West — a pull that comes from particular elements of the region, its plants, its soil, its rocks and rivers and overarching skies. Whatever it is, we’ve all felt it.
Then there’s Nate Berg’s cover story. He, too, writes about place — Quartzsite, Ariz. — a barren spot in the Southwestern desert that has become a mecca for RVers. An estimated 1 million or more RVs stop in Quartzsite each winter, with 10,000 or more staying a few months or longer. Many park in the desert, on a vast expanse of federal ground that was long ago trampled flat. There, they form a sort of community. Actually, it’s more like a small city, albeit one without infrastructure or an elected local government.
The force that draws people to Quartzsite is as strong as the one that drew John Daniel out West. The RVers return, year after year, with the intense loyalty of homeward-bound geese, driving hundreds, even thousands, of miles and spending bundles on gas. But rather than being drawn to Arizona by the ocotillos or the lizards or the way the light falls on a particular rocky crag, this giant, temporary city appears to be pulled together by the prospect of swap meets and a cheap place to camp, dump sewage and get water. That, and the impromptu community the RVers create.
In other words, they are not drawn by anything particular about this place, except for its sunny winters and the flatness that makes it perfect for parking RVs. Sure, there’s an illusion of place — the chance to live in a desert diorama, with jagged mountains in the distance, yes, but also with TVs conveniently on hand to transport you away, if you get bored. Really, this is the opposite of a sense of place — a sort of blank slate on which all these folks can create something new.
There’s something inspiring about all these strangers coming together peacefully, year after year. At Quartzsite, you don’t need to dig roots to enjoy them; if the “community” doesn’t suit you, just gas up and go. But it’s also a bit creepy, this idea that place really doesn’t matter.
Berg talks about an academic who flies over Quartzsite’s “boondocks” and sees the mirror image of a real city. More and more, we mirror the RVers societally, as well. We specialize in living without commitment: “Hooking up” has many connotations. We live in cities and towns that may have been settled in a particular place for a reason — good water, good soil, a coal or mineral seam nearby. But in many cases, those original reasons were long ago paved over or sucked dry or just forgotten. Our chain stores and strip malls could be anywhere. We revel in our placelessness, working on Wall Street from a home office on the outskirts of Aspen. We are at home everywhere now. Everywhere, that is, except for where we are — where the trees take root, the rivers flow, the sun hits the earth in that certain way.