JACKSON CENTER, Ohio – As any nonprofit can attest, volunteers make the wheels go ‘round. At Airstream Club International, the wheels are turning a good clip that is continuously and collectively creating more opportunities to camp in a community with a shared passion for Airstreams.
In a recent election, a whopping 30 Airstream Club members threw their names in the hat to run for nine spots on the Club’s Executive Council serving the International Board of Trustees. Common threads in the self-produced candidate videos revolved around creating more ways for all Airstreamers to camp and have fun and also staying relevant and adapting to today’s Airstreamer lifestyle, be it traveling with a family, still working or retired.
There’s really only one rule of being in the Club – to own an Airstream; be it a vintage model, motorcoach or brand new trailer – and the Club’s reputation of fun, friendship and travel adventure relies a lot on the volunteers that are making plans for the next Club get together or rally.
“My husband Hal and I both value volunteerism greatly,” said Terri Warren, Airstream Club International Secretary. When Terri and her husband first joined the Club she says, “We decided if we went to one rally and liked it, we might go back again, but one rally was all it took. We were hooked.” Terri, like many of the Club’s Executive Council candidates, has served in many volunteer roles for the Club. One role suited her knack for hostessing particularly well: As the Rally Coordinator for her local Airstream Club, they went from holding 15 rallies per year to 37.
So do the masses who love and appreciate the iconic Airstream brand really know what’s at the heart of a rally or caravan? Maybe or maybe not – but finding a desirable location and getting to an event is where it starts for many just like Terri.
The Airstream Club International continues to set records in event sellouts and membership highs as the year comes to a close. In a recent campfire chat, Airstream Club International President Eric McHenry addressed the concerns that many rallies sell out fast and some Caravans have waitlists. “One solution to sold-out rallies is to raise your hand to host a rally,” said McHenry. “Hosting can start by sharing a favorite spot that you’ve been to: organizing a reservation for group campsites, then making as little or more as you want out of the event. You can do potlucks and food, but you don’t have to. You can plan activities and excursions, or just get around the campfire and share what you know.”
“I found out really quickly that the Airstream community is really fun and really smart,” said Jenny Schnettler, Airstream Club International Executive Council member. “It’s what makes camping with young, old and in between so special. What one Airstreamer knows the other may not. What one Airstreamer found out the hard way will save the next time and money.”
“Then we put this body of knowledge along with the backdrop of some amazing trips and scenery and you just can’t beat it,” said Kristy Yonyon, Marketing Communications Manager for the Club. “In our world of endless information and opinions to be found on the internet, it’s like it’s almost more precious than ever to find a group of people who still get together like an extended family,” she added.
John Becker was also recently elected to the Airstream Club’s International’s Executive Council. Becker’s main interest lies in preserving the Club’s storied history of running caravans. Today, the Club offers 20-24 Caravans lead by Club volunteers. Out of this sector of volunteerism come the travel tales of seeing the world-first hand, journeying distances you might not otherwise dare on your own and as with all Airstream Club activities, the friendship and memories to last a lifetime.
Along with the nine elected volunteer Executive Council members, 12 Region Presidents also volunteer their time to collectively serve on the Club’s International Board of Trustees. This way, the governing body of the Club is mingling and strategizing with the Region Presidents who overarch a network of Local Airstream Clubs within a geographical region. The International Club’s 104 Local Clubs and nine Intra-clubs are the heartbeat of the entire behemoth organization: any Airstream Club member is welcome to come to any Local Club event, as long as space is still available. So, all together, we’re talking a ton of volunteerism and campsites needed to sustain a Club that’s been volunteering and camping since 1955.
To find a list of Airstream Club events along with contact information for volunteer rally organizers, visit airstreamclub.org/events.
To find a list of Airstream Club caravans along with contact information for volunteer caravan leaders, visit airstreamclub.org/caravans.
About Airstream Club International
Airstream Club International (ACI) is a non-profit organization with headquarters in Jackson Center, Ohio. The club originated when Wally Byam, the inventor of the Airstream, first led a group of travel trailers from Texas to Nicaragua in 1951, followed by subsequent caravans that encouraged people to get out and use their travel trailers.
In doing so, Wally inspired travel enthusiasts to see and enjoy the world, encouraging cross-cultural encounters, all the while using these environments to test the travel trailers he manufactured. On a caravan to Eastern Canada in 1955, the Wally Byam Caravan Club International (WBCCI) was formed.
The club was later renamed the Wally Byam Airstream Club and is currently doing business as Airstream Club International (ACI). Today, ACI holds hundreds of local club and regional rallies as well as dozens of local, region and national caravans to provide club members with many opportunities to carry on the tradition of discovering fun, philanthropy, camaraderie and adventure together while travelling in their Airstreams. The ACI Annual Rally is the club’s largest annual gathering and will be held in Rock Springs WY in 2023.