The International Caravanning Fellowship of Rotarians
Have (Rotary) wheels, will travel!
Quite simply, we are a group of like-minded Rotarians who love caravanning! We meet several times a year to enjoy the friendship brought about by travelling by caravan or motorhome and have an extensive programme of rallies for ICFR members and also rally at RI, RIBI, Inner Wheel, and District Conferences and a schedule of other recreational trips all over the world.
The Rotarian magazine has featured some fellowships but the following are excerpts from a story written by the Past President of the Rotary RV Fellowship (RVF), Jim Smith, who has written under the name of J. Oliver, for Family Motor Coach Magazine (FMCA).
Wherever the caravaner or recreational vehicle driver is, there is always some similarity present in RVers. 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 and members of FMCA.
Since 1905, when Paul Harris, one of the Chicago's businessmen, initiated the first Rotary luncheon the members have reflected these same characteristics. And, Rotarians like the members of the FMCA enjoy being together. These elements of like personalities and the same mode of travel reflect the founding elements for the Rotary Recreational Vehicle Fellowship (RVF) in North American and the International Caravanning Fellowship of Rotarians (ICFR) in Europe.
The aim of the Fellowship is the same as in 1967 – to enjoy friendship via the enjoyment of a common hobby. There are ICFR groups in nearly every RIBI district and members are invited to all functions that take place within their District. Come and join us…if you have Rotary wheels, you will travel and experience true Rotary Fellowship.
The ICFR has officers in England, Netherlands and France, in Australia, New Zeeland 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”.
This all began in 1967, when a group of Rotarians decided to make their way to the RI convention in Nice, the South of France by caravan. They enjoyed the experience so much that Rotarian, Robert Sutcliff founded the ICFR – the International Caravanning Fellowship of Rotarians, which is still going strong today.
With nearly 1,000 members in the UK and many more in associated fellowships in New Zealand, Holland, France and South Africa, we are one of the many Rotary fellowships covering vocations, hobbies, and sports.
The 50th anniversary of the fellowship takes place in 2017 with a celebration rally to Nice, where possible, to match that of 1967.
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 Zeeland 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 driver of a recreational vehicle). The place you stop is referred to as a RV Campground.
The Rotary Fellowship in North America is named the Rotary RV Fellowship and interestingly, because of the European influence, the quarterly publication of the North American RV Fellowship (RVF) is the Caravanner.
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.
Any Rotarian with a caravan or motorhome is invited to join, and an application form can be downloaded here. Annual subscription is £10 per family (payable by standing order), with an extra £5 joining fee in the first year. If you join after 1st September in any year, your first subscription will carry through to 1st January in the year after next.