Monday, 23 March 2015

Age is no barrier - International Caravanning Fellowship of Rotarians (NZ)

ICFR (NZ) was formed in 1978 with the ideals of Rotary friendship through “a common interest in caravan touring and camping, to promote contacts with other Rotarians nationally and internationally and to promote the recreational enjoyment of the NZ environment.”

Membership is open to present or former members of a Rotary Club or any person who is, or was, the spouse or partner of a present or former Rotarian. Age is no barrier, as quite a number who are towing caravans or driving motorhomes are in their 80’s, and one member celebrated his 90th birthday by skydiving and commented, "it keeps you young!”

Prospective members are encouraged to attend at least one rally prior to application for membership. If a prospective member has a contact who is already an ICFR member, attending a rally as their guest has its advantages. However, attending as a guest is not an essential requirement. The fellowship is a very social organisation and new members are quickly involved.

Presently the fellowship has around 150 members from Kerikeri in the north to Wellington in the south, including Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay and the lower North Island. We do not yet have any members in the South Island. 

Weekend rallies are generally held from a Friday afternoon until the Sunday afternoon with many members choosing to arrive before or stay on after the rally. These rallies have traditionally been held in February, April, August and November. Over the past few years, prior to the February rally, a week-long Bush Rally has been arranged – these rallies are generally held at Department of Conservation or similar sites, off-power and with restricted facilities. They are great opportunities to really get to know fellow members.

Informal rallies, of two to three days are held in June and September. These events are held at hot pool areas Miranda and Omokoroa, and by holding them mid-week, they attract reduced camp site tariffs.

The general format of a weekend rally starts on Friday evening with a 5 pm get together with drinks and nibbles, then after the evening meal in your own motorhome or caravan, have supper with allocated members which is a chance to mix and get to know others at the rally.  Saturday is an outing – either a mystery bus tour or visit(s) to local attraction(s), and then dinner at a local hotel, club or similar. On the Sunday morning, we have a meeting of the fellowship at which we discuss any items of topical interest, decide on the venue for future meetings, have area reports on the health and wellbeing of absent members, have a sergeant’s session, wooden spoon etc. This is usually a pretty light hearted affair, so it is always well attended.  On Sunday afternoon, members are free to leave, although it has become somewhat of a tradition for rally organisers to arrange a delivery of fish and chips for another evening meal together.

There is no strict programme for a rally, so organisers are free to arrange the course of the weekend.  At most rallies attendance is around 35 to 50 vans (70 to 100 members).  A budget for each rally aims to break even.

The organisation does not aim to make a profit and the fellowship does not become involved in projects. Membership fees are currently $5 per couple or $3 for single members.

The website includes ICFR information and copies of recent newsletters.

For further information, contact ICFR (NZ) Secretary Stewart Wright via email / 027 244 7194. 

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