National Camping Travelers, a Masonic family camping club, has hosted a National Rally every year since its inception in 1966.
This year marked our 54th National Rally which was held at the Amana Colonies RV Park in Amana Colonies, IA. This is NCT’s second time to host a rally at this venue. The RV Park has over 450 sites all of which have 50-amp electric service, fresh water, and sewer dumps. They host camping rallies of any size and have several airconditioned buildings for the rally’s use. Our national rallies are the Club’s Rally and not the President’s Rally. Any NCT Chapter or district can submit a proposal to host a National Rally to our National Board of Directors. If multiple proposals are received, the board votes to accept the rally that is in the best interests of the club. National rallies officially run for five days (Sunday-Thursday), but usually have some activities scheduled for Saturday prior to the start of the rally.
Activities at the rally include, worship service, opening ceremonies, memorial service, crafts, games, pet parade, people parade, trips to local attractions, golf, nightly entertainment, board of director’s meetings, general meeting, lots of food (no cooking tonight), installation of officers, etc. Our YNCT youth group is kept busy with their own activities, which normally include a trip to a local waterpark.
This year’s rally included a tour of the Grand Lodge of Iowa and Masonic Museum and Library which are both located in Cedar Rapids, approximately 20 miles from the RV Park. While there, the Grand Secretary gave our club a Traveling Square to be returned to its home base in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada. The Square started its journey in 1909 and was recently given to the Iowa Grand Lodge. It was accompanied by a full record of its travel over the past 110 years. A presentation of the Square was made to one of our Canadian members who will deliver it to Winnipeg.
Later in the week, about 50 Masonic brothers of the camping club gathered in one of the park buildings and enjoyed a Master Mason Degree presented by a local lodge and the Grand Lodge of Iowa. Their ritual was very different from Rhode Island’s but the message was the same.
Membership in National Camping Travelers is open to all Masons and members of OES. We currently have 27 chapters in the United States and one in Canada. Total number of Masons is approximately 650, including five from Rhode Island. Three Rhode Island Masons have been national president of NCT, Brothers, Milt Thoene (1984-85), Emil Peterson (2002-03) and myself (2018-19).
By: W∴Ray Geer, Past President N.C.T.