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Good Sams round up in Riverton
Jul 3, 2013 - By Andrea Novotny, Staff Writer
The Wyoming Good Sam Samboree, the annual meeting of the state's Good Sam clubs, was June 20-24 at the Fremont County Fairgrounds.
Roughly 73 recreational vehicles and 150 people came from 11 states to share their love of travel, camping and community service.
Some of the attendees do not come from a place of permanent residence. "Full-timers," as the Good Sams call them, are always traveling and attending Samborees and living wherever they park.
Most of the rigs are entirely self-contained and equipped with generators and "all the comforts of home," said Tony Saraceni, of the Cody Bronc Riders chapter.
Saraceni, his wife, Pam, and their standard poodle, Jack, travel in a Silver Eagle Bus, an old trailway bus they bought completely stripped on Ebay. They built the inside of their rig from scratch in about a year, but like many Good Sams, they're "always adding to it," they said.
Camaraderie also plays an important role in the Good Sams community.
"It's a family," Pam said. "You meet people and you'll be friends for life, and you wouldn't have met them any other way. ... If somebody needs help, somebody's right there to help them."
Having an RV is not a requirement of being a Good Sam, said Nancy Serface, of the Cody Bronc Riders. Some members camp in tents and other mobile domiciles.
While no one at the Riverton Samboree camped in a tent, some without RVs stayed in local motels, according to state directors Mike Bila and Paula Knudson.
The festival offered a large variety of seminars, mostly dedicated to living on the road. The Sams played games, had meetings and ceremonies, enjoyed entertainment by Dave Munsick and Good Sams Maynard Rauk and Bob McCaskill. On June 20, they caravanned to Sinks Canyon.
But community service is central to every gathering of the Good Sams. The jackpots from all of the games -- including card games, horseshoes, snake ball, beanbag basketball and the famous "tractor rodeo" -- go to a charity.
"We tried to donate to something in the city that was meaningful to the people of Riverton," Knudson said.
This year, the proceeds went to hospice care.
The club also does service projects when they meet, including highway cleanups and painting campgrounds.
"We do a lot of business when we come to a city," said Donna Hunter, president of the Meadowlarks, the local Good Sams chapter.
At the end of the event, the group had spent $11,700 in Riverton alone, Bila said.
"And that doesn't count anyone who filled up (with gas) on the way out," Bila said.
Most of the receipts that were counted were from shopping centers and restaurants, with only about 15 gas receipts collected.
The Wyoming Good Sams are part of a national organization of the same name.
"It's a fun, safe way to get out and travel with other people," Serface said.
Serface travels with her husband, son and the young chickens her son is raising for 4-H. She is a former full-timer who became a Good Sam in her journey to find a new home.
"We knew we couldn't retire where we were living," she said, so they headed west to see the rest of the country and found a home in Wyoming. She said being a Good Sam gives her an excuse to go camping with her family, when they might not have made the time otherwise.
For more information about the Wyoming Good Sams, contact the state directors at email@example.com.