If you’re reading this, you’ve likely read many of my blogs about my adventures with the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of RVing Women – but this one was even more special than usual. This weekend was our first rally of the season and we were all so excited to be there and reconnect! I’ve LOVED all of the rallies I’ve been to with these women but there was a richness and an even deeper love and support to this one which I didn’t even know was possible. Maybe it was finally being unmasked and actually being able to hug again!! People seemed to smile more and hold on to each other longer too! For the first time I was able to arrive on a Thursday instead of Friday and that was more uplifting and joyful for me than I can actually explain.
Unfortunately two members who had planned to attend had medical emergencies arise and another had a family member death and all had to cancel. Our awesome leader had sympathy and get-well cards for them which we all added notes to and signed. We really missed their presence and carried them with us in spirit throughout the weekend.
In March a woman reached out to me via Facebook Messenger to say she had joined the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of RVing Women after being inspired by a video of me sharing my JOY about being an RVing Women member and my gratitude for how the group had helped me through the loss of my husband. She lost her husband in 2020 and was encouraged that she could still travel and camp even without her husband. We exchanged a few messages prior to the rally and we were so looking forward to meeting in person. Around 5pm Friday night she and her 18 year old daughter arrived at the campground and received the exact welcome I had described to her. Everyone showed up to help her put up something many of us had never seen, a tent attached to an SUV. You just need to trust me that it was one of the most amazing evenings ever!! There are hysterical video clips and photos of everyone working together to get her set up!! We laughed the entire time and we all cheered when the mission was finally accomplished!! Our brand new RVing Sister was overwhelmed by how welcomed she was and we all shared in that joy!
On Saturday morning the real fun began!! There were lots of games of corn hole, shuffleboard AND a brand new RVing Women sport – Pillow Jumping (imagine a huge trampoline)!! Those of us who participated in the pillow jumping laughed, cried, hugged and fell down A LOT (also while laughing)! I think all of us who were jumping felt energized and inspired by the act of jumping up and down like kids (without any injuries)!! Suddenly the rest of our RVing sisters stopped watching the shuffleboard games and turned their chairs around to watch us crazy folks who were jumping. Everyone took photos and videos and even the campground manager came out to announce that a large group of female adults jumping together was a FIRST!!!
One of my favorite traditions of rally weekends is the Blessing of the new RVs (Rigs). Each new owner gets a certificate commemorating the event and a toast wishing them well on their adventures. During this really cool event on Saturday, one of our sisters learned that she had lost a dear friend who was in hospice. The Blessing event came to a halt and we did a huge group hug. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that much support for a person in the midst a loss. After a few minutes we continued on…. while continuing to support our sister.
Throughout the weekend we learned that several other members also are facing life-changing health issues, and life circumstances – but there we all were, hugging and laughing, offering our support and even crying with our sisters. Sharing JOY while supporting each other’s pain. I felt as if I was on a resilience retreat, which in a sense we were given all of our cancellations and restrictions because of COVID over the last two years. We enjoyed hot dogs and dinners with friends, Bingo and other games while we just got reacquainted with all of our sisters. We even had visits from our sisters who aren’t able to participate in RVing right now but are still part of our family and we were thrilled to see and spend time with them!
I’d be remiss if I didn’t recount an issue that could have ended badly, but worked out to our extreme satisfaction. During my first full day at the campground, I noticed a Confederate flag flying from an RV parked right near the entrance to the campground. That flag was flying close to the campground flag and Maryland state flag which could have led some to believe that all of those flags were property of the campground. Seeing that flag was a problem for me. By the time many of our members noticed the Confederate flag there were five African-American RVing sisters present in the campground. When it was brought to the attention of the campground’s new manager, he immediately spoke to the camper flying the flag and without any complaint that camper removed that flag and replaced it with another. The entire issue was resolved in 15 minutes and our camping shenanigans carried on. I give the campground management, our chapter leadership and all of our members much credit for how they handled the issue with both a sense of calm and professionalism.
I was able to stay at the campground until this morning (Monday) and today I replayed the weekend over and over in my head. Having folks in my rig for coffee, wine and conversation, hanging out in my next door neighbor’s Airstream and getting to know her better, and just giving and receiving so much love that we were all missing since last November. Though some of us are really going through a lot right now – during the weekend we showed that we can jump for JOY right along with Holding each other up!! I hope everyone left feeling as Loved, Supported and Joyful as I did!