Big Canoe/North Georgia Friendship Force hosts 18 ambassadors
The Big Canoe/North Georgia Friendship Force club hosted 18 “ambassadors” from the Sacramento club for a week of activities in May. The Sacramento ambassadors’ visit was our opportunity to host a club we visited in June 2017, to renew old friendships and make new friends.
After a nice relaxing pontoon ride around Lake Petit with some wine and cheese followed by a round of bocce ball, our club hosted a welcome reception and picnic at the Wildcat Pavilion.
We introduced our guests to the culture and natural sights of beautiful North Georgia. Since we visited many fine wineries in California, we thought it only fitting to make a trip and tasting to the Moonshine Museum in Dawsonville. Of course, while in Dawsonville, our guests learned about the “moonshine runners” and their connection to NASCAR at the Dawsonville museum. We caravanned up the road to Dahlonega for a nice lunch with a glass of wine at Wolf Mountain Vineyards. The rest of the day our guests from Sacramento visited the many shops on the quaint Dahlonega Square.
The next day over 30 members of both clubs participated in a group project with John Feight and his volunteers from the Foundation for Hospital Art. The finished product will be shipped and presented to the Sacramento Children’s Home—a very worthwhile service project.
We had to dance around the raindrops” and our planned concert and dinner at Gibbs Gardens was canceled; but some successfully braved the cloudy and overcast skies on Saturday, Sunday and Memorial Day to visit the gardens.
We always schedule some free time for our guests during their stay with us. Besides Gibbs Gardens, some went to the Booth Museum, hiking at Amicalola Falls, kayaking, Memorial Day services at the Big Canoe Chapel, patriotic music at a church concert in Johns Creek, and we were even able to schedule a doubles tennis match for another.
Golf got rained out for another member on Memorial Day morning—he was not the only one! One tradition of many Friendship Force clubs is for another member of our club to host a dinner for our guests and their home hosts. In Big Canoe, Linda Schneider, Aime’ Baars and Peggy Anderson prepared a nice home cooked meal followed by lively conversation and some “tall tales” of previous travel experiences from all over the world.
Of course, any visitor to Georgia wants to visit Atlanta. The Sacramento club prioritized touring the Carter Center/Library. We had a self-guided tour of the center and surrounding grounds with a buffet lunch provided by Proof of Pudding. After lunch, we had short presentations from two members of Friendship Force International ( www.friendshipforce.org ) . On the way out of town, some visited the Governor’s Mansion, Atlanta History Center, MLK Library and the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park.
After a long day in Atlanta, all 45 of us headed to a potluck farewell party in Canton hosted by members Sherry Wileman and Dan Hunsberger. The visitors enjoyed touring Sherry’s chicken and bee farm! There was plenty of food, desserts and drinks as well as conversation around the many tables at the party.
The Sacramento Club provided some entertainment and laughter with an Australian coin game. Much appreciate was extended to all who helped plan this journey. We ended our visit with a joint rendition of “Let There Be Peace on Earth”.
The next day many members of the Sacramento Club were headed for a second week of planned activities with the Huntsville Alabama Friendship Force Club. Some members of our club met members from Huntsville at Sticky Fingers in Chattanooga. Everyone enjoyed the Southern BBQ with a wide variety of sauces. Goodbyes were extended and the Huntsville Club started their week with a tour of the nearby Tennessee Aquarium.
There are over 350 Friendship Force Clubs and 15,000 members all over the world. Our visitors are called ambassadors and are home-hosted and, as you can see, we plan day trips in North Georgia with our guests.
Home hosting is generally six days or less for our international and domestic guests. Other members of the club assist with planning, transportation and cooking.
In recent years our local club has traveled on journeys to New Zealand, Costa Rica, Hawaii, France, Sacramento and Oregon. Later this year some members of our Club will be travelling (with members from all over the world) to the Republic of Georgia and Armenia—two countries which are not on too many folks bucket lists.
In 2019 trips are already planned for South America (cruise in February including the Galapagos) and Ottawa, Canada (including tour of Gas Bay) in the Fall. We are scheduled to host ambassadors from the Ukraine next April or May. The focus of our club is not only travel but the opportunity to meet new friends and better learn and understand new cultures and languages in countries around the world.