Western Regional RPCV Meeting, 5 August 2006

Prepared by Bob Findlay


The most recent meeting of group leaders in our area took place on Saturday, August 5 at the West regional ‘Summer of Peace’ camp site in Dworshak State Park near Orofino, ID. Attending were: Sam Greer, Idaho RPCVs; Beryl Brinkman, West Cascade PCA; Brenda Michel, Columbia River PCA; Jenn Nicholas, WSPCA; and Bob Findlay, regional representative on the NPCA board. Introductions included recent reading by attendees that ranged from Ellen Hildebrant’s fictionalized pc experience in Guatemala to events leading up to the invasion of Iraq and Jared Diamond’s book on cultural choices that doomed societies. We noted that among the forty campers were rpcvs from San Jose and Phoenix, thereby expanding our event to the Western states.

Group Reports

Group leader reports focused again on membership. Two strategies were presented that resulted in significant increases in NPCA and local group membership. Sam Greer shared a membership pamphlet that was sent out to an expanded mailing list derived from local sources and the new Harris directory. Area rpcvs were invited to participate in Idaho rpcv events and were eventually asked to fiscally join the groups. As Idaho rpcvs is a joint membership group, new members joined both the local and the national organizations. Beryl Brinkman described an offer they made last year to a similarly derived mailing list in the West Cascade area around Eugene, OR. Their offer was for one-year free local group membership if rpcvs joined the NPCA. Both campaigns resulted in remarkable increases in membership.

NPCA Membership Issues

The major discussion item was the NPCA staff recommendations for individual and group membership. Their recommendations follow extensive discussions with the board, an outside consultant, a membership task force (in which several West regional group leaders were active) and the Group Leaders Forum chairperson. The recommendations to change to individual and lifetime memberships only, to reduce the standard annual fee to $25, and to eliminate the joint dues category for groups drew modest discussion and the prediction that the last change would probably result in reduced NPCA membership. The fourth change, actually a promise, is “to attempt to create a mechanism whereby combined membership payments for group and NPCA will be paid directly to respective organizations”. The group felt that the lack of a specific proposal for payment distribution only perpetuates the dissatisfaction with NPCA that has maligned its relationship with many groups in recent years. They cited examples: regional groups typically maintain parallel mailing lists for group members that are more user friendly and current than those provided by NPCA, and they continue to be frustrated by sorting out membership and rebate payments with NPCA.

2007 Campout

The West Cascade PCA will host the 2007 West Regional Campout in the vicinity of Mt. St. Helens in Southwestern Washington. So mark the first weekend in August, 2007, for the opportunity to commune with regional rpcvs and to see the recovering landscape 26 years post earthquake. Campout information will be provided on the Columbia River PCA website.

After the meeting, we proceeded to the delicious cast iron kettle bake-off dinner and to a presentation by rpcv Craig ‘Rocky’ Rockwell (Botswana) in the character of Captain William Clark. A fine time was had by all.