Looking at the long-term operations of the new RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind., organizers are anticipating a need for between 60 and 80 volunteers to serve as tour guides, greeters, librarians, gardeners and gift-shop salespeople.
“It’s going to give a lot of people who retired from the RV industry a chance to still be part of it,” said Gene Stout, retired vice president of Coachmen Industries Inc. and former board chairman of the RV/MH Heritage Foundation Inc. in its earlier years.
Stout and former board member Jerry Pickrell are serving as co-chairmen of the foundation’s Volunteer Committee. Pickrell is a retired executive for LaSalle Bristol Division, a unit of Heywood Williams Co.
The hall’s grand opening is scheduled for Aug. 6 to coincide with inducting the 10-member 2008 RV/MH Hall of Fame class. The $9 million hall and associated museum and library adjacent to a new exit on the Indiana the Indiana Toll Road, opened to the public in late March, and construction continues on the Boots and Betty Ingram Hall that will house RV historian David Woodworth’s collection of antique RVs and camping memorabilia.
Ingram, the retired founder of Teton Homes, Mills, Wyo., contributed $1 million to the foundation to buy Woodworth’s collection and is financing construction of the 20,000-square-foot room that will display the units.
The facility is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and volunteers will be scheduled daily in two four-hour shifts. “At some point, we will need volunteers six days a week,” Pickrell said. “Right now, we are running an ‘on-call’ program.’ It will develop more structure when we start getting tour groups in here.”
Setting up the volunteer program, which in mid-June already had signed up more than two dozen volunteers, was made easier with the help of the Auburn-Cord-Deusenburg Museum in nearby Auburn, Ind., which also is staffed with volunteers. “After we opened, they were our first official tour group,” Pickrell said. “They critiqued everything that we did. The most difficult part of setting this up was getting the word out that we had a need.”
Stout said tour plans changed after the museum opened in late March. “Initially we thought we would lead people through,” he explained. “But as we watched, people want to go through at their own pace and spend time where they want to spend it. So, we expect to put people who understand RVs in the displays to talk about the units instead of leading people through. Ours is different from a typical museum because people have a sincere interest in RVs.”