Tuesday, November 28, 2023


Is Good Sam finished as an active RV club?

By Russ and Tiña De Maris

The Good Sam organization changed on Friday. Earlier, customers of affiliate Camping World received a letter from the company explaining just what actions it was taking to protect the health and well-being of customers and employees alike. But Friday, the letters that went out weren’t for customers – rather, they were addressed to State and Provincial Good Sam Directors.

As might be expected, the Coronavirus pandemic has thrown the proverbial monkey wrench into the works of social gatherings. Good Sam, not surprisingly, ordered all state and provincial rallies canceled, as well as smaller, individual chapter meetings. But what surprised and dismayed many was this line: “To keep you and your family safe, as well as continuing to follow the CDC guidelines, the difficult decision has been made to pause the Good Sam State/Provincial Director program, effective immediately.”

It was easy to understand the cancellation or postponement of rallies and other gatherings. But to suddenly sack the directors of the state and provincial organizations was quite another. We turned to an industry insider as to just why this might have taken place. Here are a few gleanings from what we heard.

First, to some, this wasn’t a complete surprise. The handwriting may have been on the wall – or on the company logo – as long as a year ago. Good Sam Enterprises, the holding company that oversees the club, redesigned the company logotype. The old logo featured the Good Sam Club – but in the new iteration, the word “Club” suddenly vanished, and Good Sam is flanked now by Camping World and Gander pointers. It would seem that Good Sam Enterprises was, at that point, far more interested in retail operations and in “subscription-based products, services and publications” than in the social activities on which the original organization was solidly based.

For now-former state and provincial directors, what does this all mean? In terms of finance, not much. A few directors got a stipend; all received repayment of their expenses, and when it came time to buy a new RV, directors could get a discount – provided they marched down and bought one off the lot at Camping World. But many of these directors and, quite often, their spouses, had made the Good Sam Club their heart and soul. Two of those, Martin and Diane Qualey, have invested years in helping Maine chapters of the club push ahead in what they feel is the real Good Sam spirit. Martin was the director of the Maine organization – until Friday.

Martin picked no bones about the sudden change. “I will grant Good Sam leeway in the need to limit liability during the pandemic,” Martin told us by telephone. “For them to completely dissolve was an overstep.” He feels that, contrary to the spirit of the Good Sam Club founders, money has become the principal thing for management. Speaking of the chapters he and his wife helped to oversee, Martin said, “I think that [Marcus] Lemonis and others would like to see [state organizations] go ‘bye-bye.’ We’re an insignificant number – 350 to 500 members in Maine, as opposed to one to two million ‘members’” in the overall scheme of things. In Martin’s thinking, the present-day company is far more interested in their database of members and its potential for money-making than in the social network that Good Sam once was.

The thought was echoed by our insider. To this person, the word “pause” in Friday’s declaration as it relates to these directorships means a complete and final termination. If the company database has two million names, then the small participation rates by chapters, probably somewhere around 1 percent of the total, is a trivial thing to company higher-ups, and not worth the financial investment. In fact, the insider said he was surprised that Marcus Lemonis hadn’t made the move much earlier, and that the COVID-19 crisis simply provided an excuse to shut down the system.

What does the company decision mean to chapter loyalists? It means they have no official standing, and no liability backing if they were to proceed with a rally or other gathering. Does that spell the end of the social activities and gatherings of Good Sammers? Not if you ask Martin and Diane Qualey. Martin has already spoken with local chapter presidents in Maine. Many are determined to press ahead and form a new organization. Martin may no longer be a “director,” but in the new group he’ll be re-titled as the “manager.” The old state treasurer will become the “accountant” and chapter presidents, “fiscal advisers.” An area RV dealer – Lee’s Family Trailer – has already stepped up and said it will help support the new group, even as it already supported the old Good Sam group, despite the company’s having no affiliation with Camping World.

Titles aside, Martin sees a bright future for what used to be Maine Good Sam chapters. He and Diane see their organization, not in terms of dollars and cents, but rather in service. In the past the Good Sams in Maine have been heavily supportive of charitable causes. Good idea or not, at one rally Martin challenged the club members who showed up in 70 RVs to come up with $1,000 for a good cause. He didn’t dream that they’d be able to do it, but just for an incentive, he told the group he’d dye his hair pink if they could make the money. Members put together $1,500 – and Martin had a new hair color. On other occasions, club members have worked tirelessly at Special Olympics events, manning stopwatches to time athletes, and booths handing out T-shirts and trinkets. In the minds of the Qualeys, Good Sams have their roots in the Biblical illustration of the Good Samaritan – serving others.

Will the same be true of other states’ chapters of the Good Sam Club? Time will tell. But like Martin says, “Maine Good Sam is dead. But the Samaritans are still alive.”


Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña went from childhood tent camping to RVing in the 1980s when the ground got too hard. They've been tutored in the ways of RVing (and RV repair) by a series of rigs, from truck campers, to a fifth-wheel, and several travel trailers. In addition to writing scores of articles on RVing topics, they've also taught college classes for folks new to RVing. They authored the book, RV Boondocking Basics.



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Emily (@guest_194499)
1 year ago

I will never participate in Good Sam again after paying for a full year of platinum RV roadside assistance and then being told months later – while on the side of the road with my daughter – that they would not cover my vehicle because it is a conversion. They stated that they had stopped covering any conversions at all – but never notified me despite it being clearly disclosed in my application AND in the vehicle description in my account. They also refused to refund my money and would not respond to calls or emails. If I called they said I needed to speak with a manager, but they were conveniently “busy” and never called back. This is a company with no ethics or sense of responsibility or loyalty, and I’m not at all surprised that they decided that local groups aren’t important to them!

Don (@guest_192927)
1 year ago

Good Sam is officially ending all support of state directors as of December 31st, 2022. State Directors and Chapters will be on their own in the future with no support of any kind from the national GS organization.
I’ve belonged to a local GS chapter for many years and my parents before me. The members in our chapter were like our extended family. This is a very sad time for many like myself.
Unfortunately, many new RVers today either are interested in group camping or more than likely don’t know about it and have never tried it. With no national sponsorship, it’s unlikely they will ever know the fun of group camping.
The GS organization should have belonged to the members of GS but sadly, the family that started it, sold their interest and the organization to an investment company. Today Marcus Lemonis is the owner and could care less about organization seeing it only as a money bag to enrich his fortune.

Dave Thomson (@guest_154993)
1 year ago

We attended a Good Samboree in New Mexico and, while the folks really tried to make us feel welcomed, we just didn’t fit in with the ritzy class As and the leaders running around in their red vests like a bunch of Girl Scouts. The leader was known a “La Jefa” (the boss) and ruled the proceedings with a very firm hand.

Twice I tried to use the Good Sam towing service and twice they failed. The first time was a breakdown on a county road in Nevada and the dispatcher directed me to the nearest town – a ghost town with a population of zero. The second time was in a BLM campground where we got bogged down in some sand. They refused to even come out.

And then let me tell you about the CW store in Salt Lake City that charged me $800 for a pair of what were supposed to be AGM batteries, but they were marine dual-purpose batteries that you could buy at $90 each at WalMart. I’m more than finished with Good Sam.

Clangm (@guest_181056)
1 year ago
Reply to  Dave Thomson

Good Sam’s was around a long time before Camping World took them over. Please try to separate them in your mind. I am so pleased that we will no longer be tied to Camping World. I won’t go into the many reasons that I feel Camping World has been a detriment to RVers.

Rick Smith - Colorado Good Sam State Director (@guest_86134)
3 years ago

UPDATE: Good Sam is not going away! They are in the process of restructuring many things within the Organization.

See what happens beginning January 2021. And, Yes even the Highways Magazine will have a new and more exciting look to it.

Last edited 3 years ago by Rick Smith - Colorado Good Sam State Director
travilenman (@guest_78046)
3 years ago

I received a — HIGHWAYS MAGAZINE — the other day, thinking GS had started reissuing the HIGHWAYS MAG., When I opened it up— NOTHING BUT ADS for CW—- I do not know about anyone else this, REALLY SUCKS….. GOOD BYE GS & LEMONIS….

Bob_B (@guest_78986)
3 years ago
Reply to  travilenman

I got mine yesterday. If you generously count the “article” — really a promotion of a few GS-affiliated campgrounds — as an article rather than an ad, there are 2 3/4 pages of articles in a 28-page flyer. 10% articles, 90% ads. The banner on the cover describes it as “HIGHWAYS – Your Road to Adventure & Savings.” The story touted on the cover as “GREAT RECIPES FOR GRILLING OUT – RV Friendly Favorites for Any Camper” consists of one recipe taking up a half-page.” No, thanks.

Cere (@guest_77035)
3 years ago

No loss here. As an owner of a small campground, the state “officers” of Good Sam always use their Passport America card at our park.

Mark (@guest_80422)
3 years ago
Reply to  Cere

And . . . ?

Life Long Camper (@guest_76116)
3 years ago

Been a Life Member since it’s inception. Went to two rallies as a Member at Large and was “SNUBBED” at both even was offered to join a Chapter “IF WE MET THEIR CRITERIA”.. What a joke.
As is always stated, “what goes around, comes around”…

Bob_B (@guest_78988)
3 years ago

As Groucho Marx famously replied after being invited to join a previously “restricted” club, “I don’t choose to be a member of a club that would have someone like me as a member.”

Ian (@guest_74865)
3 years ago

I usually stay at KOA’s on long trips. One time I wanted to stop over in a location with no KOA nearby. I found a Good Sam park on their web site. When I found it, it looked so bad, I kept on driving.

Patricia Mauldin (@guest_73293)
3 years ago

I will not ever use them for anything again. We had towing on our truck and our daughter was driving it when it broke down. They would not pay because she was the driver. I thought we bought insurance to cover the truck for towing not the driver.

SANDIE BOCK (@guest_71855)
3 years ago

Camping World seems to have been forced to change name because Camping World has such a BAD reputation of selling and maintaining Rigs and crap from their stores. My personal experience they signed me up for a VISA card I never agreed to and charged that said card for my $200 of merchandise. I FLIPPED OUT and made then wind those purchases back off that card, cancel that card and get it off my Credit Rating (NOT EASY) and they did not want to back out the purchases. THEM I only charge a few of the items that I really needed and returned the rest of that junk they sell. ME for one, are glad they are belly up which is what is occurring, bAd management, bad service=bankrupcy.

Jesse Crouse (@guest_70991)
3 years ago

Last time I used Roadside Assistance they sent an ill prepared provider and in the end I did half the work to continue our trip. My policy is up 7/31/20 and I will not renew. Does anyone have first hand experience with another org. or company offering the same type of service that they would recommend?

Tom Kuhn (@guest_71408)
3 years ago
Reply to  Jesse Crouse

Check on the Alstate RV road side assistance we have used them with no problems

Harold Stoddard (@guest_73145)
3 years ago
Reply to  Jesse Crouse

I am a member of some RV group discussions and BY FAR two roadside names always come out as safe, help full and priced right. Coach Net and SafeRide. Check them out and do your own reviews.

Ronald Howard Taylor (@guest_74386)
3 years ago
Reply to  Jesse Crouse

I have progressive insurance and their roadside assistance is very good. Give them a look.

Diane Mc (@guest_70503)
3 years ago

Worked for 2 high tech companies. Both were start ups with our own culture, grew to much larger, successful companies. Both were acquired by much larger companies. Impossible to keep things the way they are. New companies have their own cultures, processes, procedures. After a short while, I left both, one to a new company, one I retired from. We do have a lifetime membership, so nothing to cancel. We occasionally use Camping World depending on what we need. Last trip found a great jacket at Gander (same price as Amazon, but I got the 10% disc) when we were looking for replacement lights. We have the MH insurance which we used for a major $10K oops. It was great, no hassles, totally covered. We do not use the social aspect of the “club”. We did long ago to go to NASCAR races. After a couple of years, we decided to go to Daytona on our own before they stopped doing events. Saved a ton of money and still have acquaintances from those times and see them at the race every year. Grateful that we learned the ropes and made friends. For those wishing that CW goes bankrupt, I think of all the employees working for Camping World/Gander who will lose their jobs. Also think Marcus needs to work on the RV/Trailer/Service part. Too many stories of unhappy customers with poor service/quality in that area. Although we know the industry in total has a problem with quality/service.

Steven W Cassel (@guest_70330)
3 years ago

Glad they are done. Camping World and Good Sam sold the worst addons as far as insurance and Gap insurance. I hope Camping World crumbles along with there beyond shady sales tactics.

TIM (@guest_70375)
3 years ago

The Good Sam Club is a CLUB and is under the same ownership but operates as a club and sells nothing.

GeorgeB (@guest_70235)
3 years ago

Seems Marcus is the most hated person outside of Trump on this site. I can’t figure it out. Camping World has been a asset for me and I assume, many others over the years. Like Trump, it seems the hatred is directed at the person and is often unsubstantiated. IMO if you hate the CEO, shop elsewhere and stop trying to impose your standards on those who judge the business as a business. Its a big country, plenty of room for everyone.

Small Rig Big Travel (@guest_70252)
3 years ago
Reply to  GeorgeB

I agree with this so much. Every aspect of clubs in this nation have changed with the digital age from small and regional to digital and national.

Good Sam doing so might not benefit everybody, but it certainly doesn’t kill it off.

TIM (@guest_70374)
3 years ago
Reply to  GeorgeB

If you were active in the club over the years as I have been you would have witnessed the upheaval and decline of the club at the hands of Marcus Lemonis.

TIM (@guest_70230)
3 years ago

For years as a chapter officer and participant in state activities and meetings, I’ve wondered if the corporation would one day make a grab for the state organization assets. My state organization has vehicles, miscellaneous assets and substantial cash.

Terry Pace (@guest_70226)
3 years ago

I for one was surprised when the “Good Sam” of the old logo was redesigned a few years back to reflect a “Marcus Lemonis” style image. At that point I felt a major change was coming and it was.

judy williams (@guest_70218)
3 years ago

I was wondering if this would have anything to do with my Good Sam Rewards Visa card that I use all the time? Should I find another Visa card?

Cheryl Bacon (@guest_70238)
3 years ago
Reply to  judy williams

If it follows like the other Visa cards with rewards from stores, it will not change your ability to use your Visa card, but the points or rewards you get from that company probably will. I imagine you will get a letter in the mail if that happens.

Jack barton (@guest_70207)
3 years ago

Aarp went the same way quite a while back. I was getting stuff from them in my p.o. box since i turned about 50. When they went ‘all in’ with obama’s health care takeover in order to market some company’s medigap insurance, i bundled up ~ 5# of their offers and sent it back to them. I’ve never heard from them again.
I hope our Good Sam Club remains ‘Good,’ and steers clear of the big money trap they’re facing (in other words ‘they stay humble’), but i have my doubts.

Larry Big Hoss Lynner (@guest_70196)
3 years ago

Cannot thank you enough for your excellent work!!!!!! We will get through this crisis- Keep it up, Pilgrims!!!

Ken Wagner (@guest_70189)
3 years ago

My wife and I have been members of GS since 1986 here in Maine i have been a Chapter President more then 10 years and we where the GS Campers of the Year 2014. But the
Writing was on the wall Marcus Lemonis has been out to destroy this Institution since he started about 7 years ago, It has been nothing but a commercial for Camping World and a place to bombard members with thousands of pounds of paper every month. Good Sam was always a organization that would donate to charity and bring fun and entertainment to those who Liked camping. It saddens me to see this Great Icon of the camping world go down the Drain.

LAURIE Bickford (@guest_70529)
3 years ago
Reply to  Ken Wagner

We are life members of Good Sam and were Asst. Maine State Directors for 8 yrs before becoming State Directors, Sec and Treasurer for 6 more. The Good Sam Club was a great organization that introduced us to some of the most fantastic people we could ever want to meet. People who believed in volunteerism, giving back to the communities, and helping others and not about the penney in their pockets. We used to have rallies where it was not unusual to see anywhere from 600-1000 rigs and over the course of a year distribute $10,000 to different charities in the state. Young people don’t volunteer and give like the older generation did. It didn’t take long for this great organization of fun loving generous people went down the tubes when Marcus took over.

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