History of Tumbleweeds

The International Good Sam Recreational Vehicle Club

Tumbleweeds was organized in the fall of 1986 by seven Boise area families who had discovered that they had mutual desires and needs in recreation which could not be adequately met without the formation of Tumbleweeds. The founding RV families, two of which are still active in 2013, were:

Walt and Suzanne Akers
Don and Loretta Alloway
Gordon and Connie Bouza
Wayne and Mavis Hagberg
Don and Vanna Kay Hiatt
Monte and Mary MacConnell
Glenn and Patricia Osborn

Most of the founding families were working couples who could not attend outings during the week, and would miss part of the activities if they carried over the weekend into the work week. The desire to join a “camping club” existed to satisfy the desire to camp with other people of similar age and did not extend to evening meetings at people’s homes, hobby gatherings, or other charitable and civic activities. The founding families all agreed that camping ought not to be limited to professionally run parks and campgrounds. They wanted to be able to enjoy some of the natural beauty away from such facilities and Idaho offers among the most abundant natural beauty and unimproved camping splendor in the west.

The organization of Tumbleweeds is straight forward and simple:

  1. We like to camp and our activities are centered around this one activity.
  2. While we belong to the International and State Good Sam organizations, and while we support their goals, we are not, as a chapter, extremely active in any of the non recreational activities of these organizations.
  3. All of our rigs are self contained so that we can enjoy the outdoors without being limited to parks and campgrounds.
  4. We have a host for each recreational event, often called a “Wagonmaster”. The duties are simple: Communicate to the chapter the dates and location of the event, provide instructions to get there, and host a dinner on Saturday night, either a pot luck or at a local restaurant.
  5. We have a short meeting at each event, most of the time in connection with the dinner or a campfire afterwards.
  6. We embrace a relaxed camp style without formal, organized activities.

Some traditions of Tumbleweeds that have emerged over the years:

  1. A “Pig Roast” has become a tradition and is done at one campout each year. It all started when Ed Lucas, a retired machinist who worked for M K Rail, engineered and built a gas powered rotisserie to roast a pig. That first year the rotisserie was only marginally successful but the pork was great. Ed didn’t plan on about two gallons of grease dripping on the briquettes (wow, that was some campfire) and that year was the last time we set it up under a tree. Don Alloway improved on the concept the following year with a steel barbecue that not only was portable and self contained (no longer needing the pyre of rocks to place the charcoal on) but had the briquettes inside baskets to prevent the grease from dripping on the hot coals. By year three the motor was abandoned in favor of the quiet of hand turning and other refinements have been made by Don and Mert Newell through the years. This barbeque also serves as a community grill for campouts where everyone brings their own meat to barbecue and we pot-luck the remainder of the dinner.
  2. Somewhere during the first decade, the chapter decided there was nothing sacred about camping once a month and now has an outing every three weeks. This makes it possible to have a total of eleven outings each year instead of seven. We start the first part of April and end up the last part of October. Because Idaho has so many great places to visit without developed campgrounds, we split up the camping opportunities between improved sites (with water and electricity) and unimproved sites.
  3. The unofficial chapter sport seems to be horseshoes. Both Mert and Don carry sets of horseshoes, stakes, and measuring tape and you would be surprised where they can find a place to set them out. Everyone, good and bad, is invited to participate and the better players team up with the less experienced players to keep the games more even. Spectators are always welcome as well.
  4. Another tradition of the club that began several years ago is the collection of aluminum can tabs. This was initiated by Mert and Pat Newell and many other Tumbleweeds members also began participating. The tabs are donated to the Ronald McDonald House where the proceeds help provide housing for families of children being treated at local hospitals.

One of the very best things about camping is that it is something enjoyed by a very diverse cross-section of the population. Many Tumbleweeds members would not have had the opportunity to meet and socialize with the other members were it not for camping. We come from many walks of life but there is something about the camping life that reminds us that we are all equal citizens of this great land. We become lifetime friends with people we would otherwise never meet. This friendship is perhaps the finest of the traditions of Tumbleweeds. Tumbleweeds has been successful because of its simple approach toward the camping experience; the friendly people who are members, and its good neighbor approach toward camping for the enjoyment of it.