A big brown Newmar Dutch Star camper with Texas plates dusted up the gravel rolling into the Missouri State Fair Campgrounds Tuesday afternoon. Don Wooden, south region director of Good Sam Club, was unhitching his car when a friend approached.
“What’s going on young man?” Wooden said.
The two shook hands and caught up. They discussed the different churches they attended while living in their RVs on the road. Wooden’s Dutch Star was one of almost 200 rigs gathering in Sedalia for the Missouri “Vacation Fun” Samboree, an “RV get together” made up of mostly retirees, snowbirds and winter Texans that began Thursday.
State directors Sharon and Joe Waddell, of Ellisville, Missouri, said the Samboree gives members a chance to see Sedalia.
“I’ve come to Sedalia to camp when we stayed out under the trees at the State Fair,” Sharon said. “I’ve been coming here for more than 70 years. I’m really familiar with this venue … It’s like a second home.”
“We’re probably here two and a half months out of the year,” Joe said. “We come up for the fair and other stuff like this.”
Good Sam is the largest RV organization in the world with 1.5 million members. The south region includes Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana. The Waddells, along with many other campers, travel a spring circuit of Samborees in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas and a fall circuit of Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Their next campground is Hutchinson, Kansas, for the Kansas “Lost in Space” Samboree Oct. 1.
While camping, members play leisure games like Bean Bag Toss and the card game Skip-Bo for souvenir patches. Sharon Waddell booked four evenings of live musical entertainment with a $2,000 budget. The Baker Family, Jeff Gordon (not the driver), Maria Rose and Danny Elswick, John Sager are booked for the Vacation Fun Samboree.
Lee Holder’s 37-foot Montana Big Sky was parked near Wooden’s Tuesday. He was one of a handful of volunteers helping campers park and being the first to welcome them.
Holder, who is from Branson, has been a Good Sam member since 2004 and said he’s always had a fifth wheel.
“You either love it or hate it,” Holder said.
Holder’s RV was equipped with a kitchen, water, an electric fireplace and DISH satellite television. With even more luxurious rigs scattered along the campgrounds and familiar faces at each site, it’s easy to see how a Samboree can feel like home. Sharon Waddell said the circuit is already home to many.
“It’s like a family,” Waddell said. “Good Sam’s is your second family. It’s like a gentleman said today, if you have an illness or something, you have more Good Sam members praying for you than you can even think about.”
When Wooden was done discussing churches with his fellow Good Sam member, he tried to describe what days were like traveling the United States in his big brown Dutch Star RV.
“We call it living,” Wooden said. “That’s our style.”
Alexander Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000.