Local teen reflects on reign with camping club


All 18 years of her life, Macey Stuckwisch of Brownstown has been a member of Family Campers and RVers.

The nonprofit organization’s mission statement is to share with all campers and RVers fun, friendship, fellowship and family feelings of camping together and to promote and enhance the experience and enjoyment of recreational family-type camping and RVing.

Originally founded in 1949 as National Campers and Hikers Association and formally organized in every state five years later, the name changed to FCRV in 1993.

Stuckwisch’s grandparents, Chet and Sherry Nolan, joined a few years before she was born, and they soon recruited her mother, Misty Stuckwisch.

“Their best friends had a camper, and Mom and Dad were talking about getting a camper to put on property they had in another area to go down on weekends, and their friends were like, ‘No, that’s no reason to buy a camper. You’ve got to come camp with us,’ and they’ve been doing it ever since,” Misty said. “Macey was born at the end of December, and we camped in April. Mom and Dad put a rocking chair in the camper.”

In 2018, Macey reached the age where she could represent the organization on a high level, and she was named Miss Congeniality in the queen pageant.

Then in 2019, she won the title of Miss Indiana before being crowned Miss FCRV. Her reign recently ended during Campvention in Wisconsin, where she crowned Brianna Coniglio of Florida as 2021 Miss FCRV.

Macey said she enjoyed her time promoting and advocating for the organization, attending as many campouts as possible.

“I got to go to Ohio and meet a lot of different people,” she said. “I had a lot of support. People remembered me from the first time I ran, even went back from when I was just a youth going to the different activities, so the support system that I got from that was incredible.”

To this day, she still remembers meeting a woman on a tram at Campvention when she was running for Miss FCRV.

“I remember that sweet little lady because I talked to her on the tram all week and she just told me how she had faith in me. She’s like, ‘You’re going to win,'” Macey said. “I still don’t know that lady’s name, but I know her as the sweet little lady that told me I was going to win.”

She also gained leadership skills from the experience.

“From the first time that I had to speak in front of an audience at the state level with just getting Miss Indiana, I had Ed Shaneyfelt stand in front of me and tell me exactly what to say into the microphone because I was too nervous to come up with something on the spot,” she said.

“Going all the way to the end of Campvention and giving my title away and being able to stand up there and say what I please to the whole organization because they were my family,” she said.

The motto of the organization is “Where strangers become friends and friends become family,” and Macey has found that to be appropriate.

“That I really have to say is completely and utterly true,” she said. “You meet people from different states, and you don’t realize how quickly you can make a connection with them. Even if you are friends the first year, the next year you come back to Campvention, you feel like family with them, and everyone keeps in contact.”

Over time, though, Macey has seen big changes in the organization.

For example, when her older sister, Jessica, ran for Miss FCRV in 2013, there were 20 contestants. This year, there were only four.

“It used to be they would go all the way through fifth runner-up because there were so many girls, but now that there’s less, they’ve knocked it down to queen and first runner-up, king and first runner-up,” Macey said.

Also, most of the people involved in FCRV are older.

“It started in ’49, and so obviously, those kids and their kids — the people who started it and their kids and the kids from them — they are all starting to get in the older age range,” Macey said. “And the kids that are my age and a little bit older aren’t coming back as much now, somewhat probably from abilities and jobs and stuff making that impossible.”

Macey also has noticed in Indiana, most of the local FCRV clubs are in the northern part of the state.

Her goals are to get the younger generation involved and also see clubs be established in southern Indiana.

“I want to increase the age range of the younger kids because the only way we can change the organization and keep it alive is if we get more members and get younger members to take over those leadership roles,” she said.

Getting clubs in the area would allow them to host monthly weekend campouts for members from other parts of the state.

“Somewhat of a dispute is that can you get more people to go up north or can you get more people to come down south in the numbers at our state campouts,” Macey said. “So I was thinking that if we got a chapter down here, then it would be easier to fluctuate on which side of the state you have to go on.”

Macey said there also is a regional campout each year that draws members from the Great Lakes Region of Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, and the weeklong Campvention brings together members from around the country.

Brochures are sent to members before each event so they know about the activities and theme. Activities might include biking, hiking, crafts, campfires, bingo or potlucks for all ages, from youth to retirees.

“You don’t have to do the activities that we plan, and we try to leave enough time for people to do other things if they want to get out in the community and check it out and explore,” Misty said. “Sometimes, you just want somebody to camp with and do activities.”

Macey said she enjoys the game time and youth activities.

“It’s not mandatory ‘You came with us. You have to do this with us.’ You can do whatever you please,” she said. “But there is that opportunity that we have stuff written out that people will come to.”

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