The Recreational Vehicle Fellowship of Rotarians

Many Rotarians know about our respective clubs but not about the fellowships of Rotary. The Rotarian magazine has featured some fellowships but the following are excerpts from a story written by the Past President of the Recreational Vehicle Fellowship of Rotarians (RVF), Jim Smith, who writes under the name of J. Oliver, for Family Motor Coach Magazine (FMCA). We hope Rotarians in your (this) district will be interested in the RVF.

The International Rotary organization is a service club of business leaders who meet weekly to exchange ideas on how they may be of service to more disadvantaged people throughout the world. The club originated in Chicago in 1905. Today Rotary has 1.2 million members in 31,560 clubs in 166 countries. In addition to community, nationwide, and international service activities Rotary has over 70 fellowships that cover both vocational and recreational association. Some of these groups are made up of lawyers, physicians, computer experts and even those who have had heart surgery. The fellowship associated with RV'ing Rotarians is the RVF.

A bit of international RV nomenclature where this Rotary Fellowship is active may be in order. In Europe if you travel in a motorized home or trail a livable trailer you are a caravaner and the trailer is a caravan. The place you stop for the evening, days or week is referred to as a caravan or camping park. In Australia and New Zealand the caravaner designation is also the term used for motor home and trailer travelers.

The Rotary RV Fellowship in Europe refers to their group as the International Caravanning Fellowship of Rotarians (ICFR). The same activity on the North American continent we know makes you an RVer (meaning a user of a recreational vehicle). The place you stop is referred to as a RV Campground. The Rotary Fellowship in North America is named the Recreational Vehicle Fellowship of Rotarians and interestingly, because of the European influence, the quarterly publication of the North American RV Fellowship (RVF) is the Caravanner.

Wherever the caravaner or recreational vehicle user is, there is always some similarity present in RV’rs. This similarity is the demographics, or the psychographics, of the RV families. The RV participants are gregarious, honest, accommodating, adventurous people. With this description it’s not difficult to liken these homogeneous travelers in movable homes as having many attributes of Rotarians. Since 1905, when Paul Harris, one of the Chicago businessmen, initiated the first Rotary luncheon the members have reflected these same characteristics. And, Rotarians enjoy being together. These elements of like personalities and the same mode of travel reflect the founding elements for the Recreational Vehicle Fellowship of Rotarians (RVF) in North American and the International Caravanning Fellowship of Rotarians (ICFR) in Europe.

The ICFR has officers in England, Netherlands and France, in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Tobert Sutcellf founded the fellowship in the UK in 1967. The ICFR has over 2000 members. The group usually tries to organize a caravan to rally at the Rotary International Convention when it is held in Europe. The International group has a newsletter titled “Over The Horizon”. The North American group’s communication vehicle mentioned above is the “Caravanner”. Both have web sites: Rotary International at and the Recreational Vehicle Fellowship in North America at

The North American RVF was an idea by some Rotarians in Islamorada, Florida in 1971. Rotary International recognized them as a chartered fellowship in 1972. Today there are about 500 members organized into 4 zones, Pacific, Mountain, Central and Eastern. The group holds their Annual Conventions in conjunction with Rotary International Conventions when they are held in North America at that location.

The RVing Rotarians hold rallies where they socialize at dinners, breakfast and social hours. As good Rotarians they have not allowed the strictly social aspects of the fellowship detract for their belief of “service above self”. If there are any excess funds garnered from the registration at rallies they are contributed to local highway safety programs. These range from Emergency Medical Technicians, Hospital Emergency Wards to local Fire Departments. In a conscious effort to augment these funds, the Eastern zone added a raffle. The raffles are for items contributed by fellowship members. The items are many times of questionable value and the winning items may well be up for the raffle at the next rally but the money raised is not. The annual contribution for highway safety has risen from several hundred dollars to several thousand. And the raffle has become an additional fun event and has extended to other zones.

The catalyst for the rallies in Rotary is the “Wagon Master”.

The Wagon Master has specific functions and responsibilities. With 30 to 40 recreational vehicles possible at the rallies these defined duties, which include pricing the stay at an RV Resort, meals, tours, recreation, social times and schedule a visit to a local Rotary Club can provide a challenge.

The North American RV Fellowship has many regional rallies scheduled in each of their four designated areas each year. At these events the rallying Rotarians collect around a campfire to exchange tales. And they also gather for an attitude adjustment early evening social hour to discuss the past days events and hear from the Wagon Master about the next days schedule or where the next rally will be held. For more information please visit our website:

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