For the last 17 years a group of Western Slope Good Sams have gathered during the fourth weekend in June at the Delta County Fairgrounds for three days of food, games, entertainment and camaraderie.
The "Western Slope Camp-A-Rama is a "mini Sam-boree" says Montrose Good Sam member Mike Carver, who with wife Susan joined the organization in 1993. They have been southwest area assistant state directors since 1998.
Headquartered in Englewood, Colo., the Good Sam Club started in 1966 and has grown to an international organization with more than 1.7 million members. It's the largest organization of recreational vehicle owners in the world. While out on the road, if they see someone broken down, they stop and help them out, said John Lowitz of Cedaredge. He and wife Linda are co-presidents of the Montrose San Juan Sams chapter. Sam's Club members came from as far away as Green River and Blanding, Utah, but most of the campers come from the Montrose and Grand Junction Two Rivers chapters.
Membership in the Good Sams includes benefits like roadside assistance, insurance, and camping site and fuel discounts. They are also very pet friendly.
The fairgrounds provides a convenient central location for the West Slope chapters to meet. It's also one of the few areas with a lot of electrical outlets they need to run their air conditioners, said Lowitz. At $6 per night per RV, it's also affordable.
The camp-a-rama offers social time, activities, and camaraderie, says Carver. They have a Wagonmaster, and as part of the entertainment, even boast their own Cowboy Poet, Sam Noble, a fifth-generation rancher from the Durango area who cheerfully recited his original poem, "Ripples in the Tank."
Members also took in the sights, went fishing, and visited downtown. Friday night, 34 Good Sams dined at Zack's BBQ, which has become a tradition. After dinner a gentleman from Olathe arrived at the park unannounced to give the group a dance lesson.
The Good Sams also raise money for worthy causes, including food banks, Dogs for the Deaf, the Abraham House Homeless Shelter in Delta, and the Montrose Police Department's Cops for Kids annual children's Christmas party. Over the weekend they held a bean bag toss baseball championship game between the chapters, with the winner receiving all of the fund from nickel bingo and a silent auction, to go to the charity of their choice.
They are somewhat of a dying breed, says Carver. The Western Slope is down from six or seven chapters just a few years ago to just three chapters. As with other service organizations like the Elks, Eagles, and Rotary International, "The Good Sams are aging out and young people aren't coming in." Kids today like to do things like four-wheeling and adventure tours and don't want to hang out in a campground with a bunch of old folks, he mused.
The state rally will be held Sept. 28-Oct. 1, at the State Fair Grounds in Pueblo. They'll be back next year, said Carver. They have to keep this tradition going. Camp-a-ramas used to be a big deal for all chapters, he said. Their camp-a-rama is the only one remaining in the state. They wouldn't miss it, said Carver. "It gives us all a good chance to catch up." Those interested in joining the organization can visit GoodSamClub.com or call Jack or Phyllis at 970-523-5625.