MARSHALL -To several Marshall area couples, being in the Rawhide Rovers Club is just like "one big family."
A family that travels together in motorhomes.
The origin of the Rawhide Rovers dates back to the mid-1980s when the late Joe Mortier and Ed DeBaere started talking about other motorhome clubs that had get-togethers.
"We thought that would be a good idea," DeBaere said.
So the two men started the Rawhide Rovers about 25 years ago with a few couples. And in the last quarter century, the group has become established with a president, vice-president, other positions and committees.
In April, the Rovers have a spring meeting where they plan outings for the next few months.
Once the season is over, the group has a Christmas party in October before several of the members go south for the winter to Texas or Arizona.
"It's been getting when some have left already (before the Christmas party)," said Coleen Frye of Marshall. Frye and her late husband, Stan used to camp often with the Rovers.
During the years, the group has traveled together to many destinations, such as Duluth, the Black Hills, or Omaha, Neb.
With each excursion, there's usually "wagon leaders," said Eddie Smith, one of the members. The wagon leaders know the area and plot out the agenda for the trip. The trips last about five days.
"It's basically play," Frye said.
Word-of-mouth is how the Rovers get most of their new members. Jane Hansen of Russell just joined the Rovers last year. She said it's nice to meet new people.
"We've enjoyed the trips, last year to the Black Hills was just great," Hansen said.
Robert Bottelberghe of Minneota learned about the group through his brother Don.
"We try to do as much as we can," Bottelberghe said.
Judy Kesteloot of Marshall has been with the Rovers for more than 15 years.
"Joe Mortier said to my husband 'why don't you join our camping group?'" Kesteloot said.
And that is how the big family has come together. Nancy Joy of Marshall said the Rovers have lost a few members throughout the years, but some of the widows, such as Frye, accompany the group every chance they get.
"i join them when I can," Frye said.
JoAnn Larson of Marshall keeps the group up-to-date on happenings.
"I try to get a newsletter out five times a year," Larson said.
In June, the group took a trip to the Twin Cities, touring such places as the Capital, Target Field, Fort Snelling and the Wabasha Caves. The Rovers get into their motorhomes and travel together. This past week, Gary and Watertown, S.D. was on the agenda, with stops at the Redlin Museum and a new golf course.
"We meet up somewhere, have breakfast and caravan on over. After the Gary excursion, the group has one last "big trip" for the summer, the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa.
Once the group is settled at a site, members may build a campfire in the evenings and have social hour, Smith said.
The group has also done service projects, such as cleaning ditches and washing windows at Prairie Home Hospice.
But above all, they genuinely care about each other, getting together as much as they can throughout the summer.
"Everybody worries about everybody else," Larson said. "They're like extended families."
"They are a great bunch of people and we get so close to one another, sharing the ups and downs of life," Joy said.