By Patrick Winderl/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
A group of RV-driving, card-playing, service-minded people have gathered in Havre for a meeting this weekend.
They have come from all across Montana and descended on Havre in a veritable armada of recreational vehicles. The Good Sam Club, as this group of mostly retired but young-at-heart people is called, has come to collaborate during a semiannual business meeting.
They are gathered at the Holiday Village Shopping Center, where rows of RVs have created a temporary city of houses on wheels.
Festivities planned for this weekend include a dance, a potluck, a number of tours, horseshoes and, of course, card playing.
"A lot of it is social," said Earl Blanchard, the state director of the club. "It's about renewal of old friendships for people interested in RVs and travel."
About 90 RVs have registered for this weekend, Blanchard said.
Blanchard, who lives in his RV year-round, said that although the Good Sams have a great time, they also have a purpose.
"Along with having fun, we spend a lot of time with the charities we support," he said. The charities include Dogs for the Deaf; Camp Make-a-Dream, a special camp for terminally ill cancer patients; Project Hope, which provides medical services to people on five continents; and the Special Olympics.
One of the ongoing projects the Good Sams are involved in is collecting pop tabs for Ronald McDonald houses. Last year the group saved 2,200 pounds of tabs, Blanchard said, enough to cover the medical expenses for one patient for one month.
There are 27 chapters of Good Sams in Montana, Blanchard said. The chapters meet monthly to plan camping trips and service events. The Havre chapter, chaired by Lowell Miller, hosts highway cleanups in Beaver Creek Park and along Montana Highway 87.
"We always leave an area cleaner than when we came," he said.
The meeting this weekend marks fives years since the group has met in Havre, Blanchard said, and added that the Havre Holiday Village Shopping Center has been very supportive.
"They've been great," he said. "The problem with these meetings is that it can be tough to find a spot, but the mall is very happy to have us back this year."
The fun and games for this weekend will kick off tonight with a dance in the courtyard of the mall. Everyone is welcome to attend, Blanchard said. Saturday, after tours of local historical sites and lengthy card games, the group will hold a potluck. "Local talent" is scheduled to entertain Saturday night. The meeting will wrap up on Sunday after a church service and breakfast at the Gallery restaurant, Blanchard said.
Sometime in between the fun and games the group will hold its business meeting and finalize plans for the Samboree. To be held in Butte in July, the Samboree is a four-day blowout with participants from all across the Northwest and Canada.
This weekend promises to fun for everyone, and Blanchard encouraged the community to come visit the Good Sams at the mall.