How to Start or Re-Start a Chapter
Some of the questions about chapters that come up frequently is how chapters are formed, who starts them, what it takes to do that. Below is some information about chapters and what it takes to start one. However, perhaps more important than HOW is WHY you might want to start a new chapter.
A few years ago a couple of guys started a new website called RVillage. The idea was to get people who have or want to have recreational vehicles together. Kind of like Facebook for RV people. They used the idea of GROUPS so that the people who joined RVillage could get to know one another. At first, there were only a few hundred members (membership is free!) but soon there were thousands. Today, there are over 100,000 members! You should go to http://rvillage.com and check it out!
Their success is without doubt because they have enabled people to find and connect with other RVers that have similar interests. There are hundreds of groups today. Groups like “Full Time RVers” have over 5000 members. “National Park Fans” have almost 3000. There are groups for photographers, hikers, caravaners, and even nudists. Of course, there is a “Campers For Christ” group too, with 32 members. If you are reading this, please, go to http://rvillage.com, register, and join our group!
However, the MAIN POINT is that their success is because they are bringing people together because of a shared interest, vision, or goal. That is what Campers For Christ chapters are supposed to be doing: bringing people together because of our shared interests, visions, and goals. That is the WHY of chapters. We need chapters to bring us together from time to time. With that in mind, here is a bit on how to start or re-start a chapter. The obvious assumption here is that there are NO active chapters close to you! If there is, go get involved with that chapter!
To be a chapter you need a few things. First, you need some MEMBERS. At least four are required to fill the chapter officer slots. There has to be some agreement on purpose and bylaws. So, go find some Christian campers, get them to be CFC members. If there are current members around you, bring them together and get started. Best of all may be to bring new members in with the old ones!
Second, you need a REASON or a PURPOSE for being a chapter. What about the chapter will bring people together? There is a lot of room diverse ideas about that. So, the question is, what reason does this chapter have for being? Is it campground evangelism? Great, wonderful reason. Is it fun and fellowship in a camping atmosphere, good. Is it so members can caravan around together? Ok! Is it to provide campground ministry? Perfect. Just get your members to agree on a purpose.
Next you need a NAME for your chapter. The name can be whatever you want. It should reflect something important about the chapter. Seed Sowers Chapter reflects purpose. Sonshine Chapter reflects area and more. Genesis Chapter was the first I think. Exodus Chapter reflects wilderness and pilgrimage? You get the idea.
Once you have a group of campers, a name and purpose they agree on, you are ready for the third step, you need to adopt chapter bylaws and elect officers. Writing bylaws is a fairly easy task. They can be really basic and there are samples available. The main thing is that they are basically in line with the International By-Laws. The chapter bylaws will state the chapter’s name, purpose, and how it functions. The International Vice President or his area representative will help you.
Once you have a written set of bylaws that your core group agrees on, you invite the CFC Vice President (his responsibility is primarily chapter development!) or his area representative to come and help you adopt the bylaws and elect a new chapter president. The new president then finishes that business meeting with electing the rest of the officers and any new business that needs to be done. The Vice President or his area representative will advise and provide any guidance needed.
Finally, you will need approval by the international board of officers. To get that, you just submit a request letter with a copy of your bylaws and information about the officers. Upon approval, the International Vice President or their representative may come and officially recognize the chapter as an official chapter of Campers For Christ Ministries.
The process is not complicated but it all starts when YOU bring together a few members, new ones or old ones, and cast the vision for becoming an active chapter that meets together somewhat regularly for fellowship, encouragement, the Word, for ministry, and sometimes especially just for fun.
Here are the REASONS why Campers For Christ Ministries exist. Consider them as you think about why there is a real need for a chapter near every member.
- To provide a means for Christian campers to get together for fellowship at local and national levels.
- To provide a way for recognition of Christians on the road or while camping.
- To encourage a witness to others, while camping, regarding the claims of Jesus Christ, the club Crest being an effective opener when asked to explain its purpose.
- To provide a Chaplain service to campers if requested, especially to those who have no church affiliation.
Finally, here again are the THINGS WE DO to fulfill our aims and goals:
- Seek to establish new chapters and/or assist existing local camping organizations within the various United States and Canadian Provinces achieve their goals when such goals are consistent, or become consistent, with those of Campers for Christ Ministries.
- Provide a way for Christian campers and RVer’s to be encouraged to gather for Christian fellowship at local, national and international levels, and to become members of Campers for Christ Ministries.
- Provide a plan for recognizing Christian RVer’s and campers while traveling or camping, making it possible for fellowship, prayer, and aid in times of need. Encourage members to witness to others, especially while camping, regarding the Bible an Ministries d the soul saving claims of Jesus Christ, as well as the benefits of joining Campers for Christ . (The Campers for Christ Ministries crest can be an effective conversation starter when witnessing.)
- Encourage members to provide chaplain type services, as appropriate, when witnessing or when requested to do so. This is especially necessary for those who have nominal or no church affiliation, and who may be seeking salvation.
- Encourage members who camp in public or privately owned campgrounds, (where Christian Sunday services are not available) to seek permission from management at such campgrounds to provide a teaching or preaching service, or at least, a Bible Study.