Several hundred RV enthusiasts are expected to descend on Shaunavon next summer for a five-day stay in the community.
Members of the Saskatchewan SAM Club have designated Shaunavon as the site for its next rally, scheduled to take place June 6-10, 2018.
The Good Sam Club is an international organization of recreational vehicle (RV) owners and the largest organization of its kind in the world.
Established in 1966, the group boasts a world-wide membership of 1.7 million, including more than 58,000 members in Canada.
The club’s name comes from the Bible parable of the Good Samaritan, which tells of a traveler from the region of Samaria who helped a person along the road who had been robbed and beaten.
There are an estimated 700 to 800 members in Saskatchewan.
The Saskatchewan organization hosts two rallies each year. The biggest of the two – and the one that Shaunavon will host – takes place every June at different locations across the province.
About 200 RV rigs are expected to make the trek to Shaunavon.
It’s an international gathering and will attract many Saskatchewan participants, as well as visitors from outside the province, including the U.S., Alberta and Manitoba.
This year’s rally was held at Nipawin in June and attracted 179 rigs.
“But I expect more next year because it is being held in the south,” said Saskatchewan Good Sam Club Director Doug Barker of Kyle.
Barker and the organization’s Wagon Master Bob Burrows made a visit to Shaunavon earlier this year to tour the community and see what local services and amenities were available. Members of the provincial executive will be making another visit to Shaunavon next month to iron out further details.
The group has already made arrangements with the town to park their rigs at the Shaunavon Sportsgrounds. The massive collection of RVs should make a pretty impressive sight at the location.
The rally will feature a number of activities throughout the week, such as golf tournaments, games, seminars, group meetings and meals.
Local entertainment will also be lined up for performances on Friday and Saturday night and there will be a pancake breakfast and banquet as part of the festivities
Tours of the area will also be arranged, including tentative visits to the T.rex Centre at Eastend and other local attractions.
A relaxing week of socializing and story-telling are also a big part of the event’s appeal.
Obviously, Good Sam members all share a common interest in camping, but they also enjoy the camaraderie and life-time friendships that develop through these excursions.
Although there aren’t necessarily direct fundraising events at these rallies, organizers typically turn over any of their profits to local projects. Two years ago, for instance, they ended up donating $975 to a new swimming pool project in Outlook and this year’s profit went to a Kinette’s initiative for a children’s park at Nipawin.
“There are always local projects of some kind that we try to contribute to as much as we can,” said Barker.
The visit to Shaunavon is also expected to have a significant economic impact on the community.
Surveys by the Sask Good Sam Club show that members typically spend between $15,000 and $20,000 in the community during their stay. And that’s just the money spent by members on goods such as groceries, restaurants or local retailers. The total doesn’t include items such as fuel or site rentals.
The Saskatchewan Good Sam Club includes 17 different branches, covering just about every corner of the province.
The Saskatchewan organization was first started 27 years ago with the establishment of chapters in Regina and Saskatoon. The group has been holding rallies in the province for the past 25 years.
Each Chapter has its own elected leadership and hosts its own events and activities. Some chapters organize camping trips every month.
Barker, who is a charter member of both the Kyle Woolly Mammoth and the Rosetown Prairie Rose chapters, has been a Sam member for the past 16 years.
He has been a member of the organization’s provincial executive for 14 of those years.
“It’s one of the things that once you get on it’s tough to get off,” laughed Barker, who is also the mayor of Kyle. “But I really enjoy it.”
Barker says he has travelled to numerous rallies outside of Saskatchewan, including events as far away as New Mexico, and has made friends from all over North America through his involvement with the Good Sam Club.
Officials try to move the Saskatchewan spring rally to different provincial locations each year.
“It’s a way to showcase all the different parts of our province,” said Barker.
The Sask Good Sam Club also organizes a smaller rally each fall. That event, which is held at Manitou Regional Park, is only open to Saskatchewan members. The rally is used as a fundraiser for Camp Easter Seals.
Along with the rallies and other events, Good Sam Club members also enjoy a number of other benefits and services.
The closest Good Sam Club chapter to Shaunavon is located in Swift Current.
Barker said he would like to see a group established in this southern corner of the province and says there is financial assistance for setting up a new chapter.
“It’s a good organization and we have a lot of fun,” said Barker.