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Old 05-15-2005, 09:44 AM   #29
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I agree Pork in what you said, heck I even agree with what Liepper had to say.

In the end, through natural means the club average age is going to go down as eventually it will go back up. As that happens, you're either gonna find one of two things are going to happen during this cycle of change. One, the younger ones with a good sense of where the club has come from will take the lead and take the club into the 21st century.

--or--

The club will be a niche market serving it's local units (those that survive) and whatever "International" or "National" group will be either so small or just the glue that keeps the few remaining clubs that are doing the right thing together. I have since found at least 3-4 local (not to me) units beyond units that I knew of before that are really doing an exceptional job. We need to get the people that are making it happen in these groups to take the lead as Pork is right, you need to start at the top and work your way down.
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Old 05-15-2005, 10:01 AM   #30
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...in addition....

The one area that I won't agree with is when the folks running the show think that by adding more members to the group that it's going to magically fix what's broke. Folks would not join places like the Moose, Elk, etc if their motto was we're in trouble, but join anyway, pay the dues, work a full time job and still spend your spare time fixing what we couldn't do on our own. I think the last Blue Beret that I got while in Jackson Center spoke volumes to the depth of the revelation that if folks aren't careful, it's not going to be around or will be watered down due to a major lack of folks coming into the .org.

As I have said before, with say 2000 Airstreams being built and sold annually, and record sales of Airstreams for the past 3 years, why:

Are folks not jumping into WBCCI?

Why are WBCCI's membership numbers either staying level or going down (generally, not everywhere locally)?

Why when a free year was offered was there such a dismal renewal rate?

I can answer all these questions very simply:

People want to go out, camp, have fun and meet folks. Most don't want what the current club offers and are still in the workforce full time unable to do some of what the club offers nationally, and in some cases even locally. Again, like Pork said to install change, you gotta start at the top and I restate that the only way to get these folks to move is to get the folks from South Carolina Coatal Unit, St. Louis Unit, a few of the Texas Units, Brett's unit in Florida and the handful of others who know what I'm talking about out into the slots that have the ability to make change at the upper levels of the .org. Only then will you see more folks come back to it. I know it can be done because this forum alone has some excellent rallys of folks in each area. No dues are required, no pomp an circumstance, just the core, Airstreamers meeting Airstreamers in a setting that isn't stale. The powers that be could learn a lot from these local forum hang outs. In some cases folks are starting to take note of it, which in the end can't hurt.

Soapbox off.
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Old 05-15-2005, 11:08 AM   #31
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Airstream Life

What one wants to utilize their expendable income on is a highly subjective matter, but as long as you were discussing it, I thought I'd like to add in the direction of your post.

I couldn't agree with you more that Airstream Life is a nice flashy magazine that looks nice on the coffee table. And for some that may indeed be value enough, but it's much more than that. It is a veritable feast for the senses, the feel of the paper, the look of the images, the content of the articles. For the price of my subscription it transports and transcends me to the place where I want to be. Personally I consider it a tangible venue for art and entertainment, cheap at twice the price, in my book. Add to that pertinent information on Airstreams new and old, shiny and the not so shiny, the interaction of fellow Airstreamers and a platform for appropriate vendor contact and presentation and it is one loaded asset in it's 64 pages quarterly. I am definitely signing up for renewal. Don't be left out.



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Originally Posted by M&M CAPECOD
Thank you Ken,
I feel the publication does what it's supposed to: It keeps its members informed, it doesn't waste money on flashy high gloss color print and paper, and tries to bring a large group together through a common interest. If they spent big $$$ on a slick publication I'd be concerned about who was making the decisions but they don't, they spend their funds wisely and frugally IMHO.
As for Airstream Life, it's a nice flashy magazine that certainly looks nice on the coffe table but come on it's $8 an issue. Are we getting our moneys worth with that???? Have I gotten so much out of reading it that its $32 yearly cost of subscription is invaluable? We are deciding that now with our subscription up for renewal. Have I gotten my $55 out of my WBCCI yearly dues and do I find it invaluable? YES, YES, YES I knew it was right for me the first weekend rally we went to a month after we bought our AS. I commend all of the people who work so hard planning, and running those events.
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Old 05-15-2005, 11:16 AM   #32
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When I got my Airstream I was excited and interested in the club.
I joined, got my units old numbers "revived" and headed out to a GA State Rally at TOG.
We had an awful time that led us to leave as early the second day as we could. I won't go into the details here, as I have before on this site, but it was a total turn-off.
After that we decided to try to organize the first of the Forum rallys, which although small was a terrific time for all. It was a sharing and learning event, with enough socializing to make it fun. Since then we have held a total of 6 and each one has been that way. No politics, no rules, just a loose schedule that seemed to cover everyone's needs.
Number 7 for us is in the Fall.
As for AS Life it is enjoyable, interesting and although maybe a bit pricey, the limited audience at this point probably necessitates that. As the magazine grows in market and then in content it will prove to be more of a value to us all.
Ever read Sports Car Marketplace? It was very thin and expensive and only by subscription when it first came out...now it has the content and is available at a lower price on many newstands.
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Old 05-15-2005, 12:53 PM   #33
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We have been at the last two forum rallies organized by Alan, and had a great time. Are looking forward to the one in October. We too were very enthused when we first joined WBCCI, even to the extent that we volinteered to do the local newsletter. We have done it for over four years, and October will be our last issue. Our local rallies are fun, but the others, like the Michigan State, Region 4 and International are real turn-offs for us. Too much dumb pomp and circumstance and too little just plain camping fun. Don't expect to attend any future large WBCCI rallies.
There will be a forums rally in the metro Detroit area in August. I hope that it is as much fun as the forum rallies organized by Alan. We will be trying.
We will be maintaining our WBCCI membership for the local rallies, both in Michigan and Florida, as well as possible caravans.
I hope that something will change for the better in WBCCI, but doubt that much of anything good will happen until all the WW II veterans in charge die off.
Sad
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Old 05-15-2005, 01:20 PM   #34
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thanks Jim, as for our rallys, they stick to a formula which is -- we have "no formula".

In reality I always try(with assistance from others) to organize a shared meal, some music, a family campfire or two..and the usual airstream info sessions which are usually informal so they can go where they are led to as needed.
I especially enjoy learning from others and getting to share my limited knowledge. Its rewarding to be able to help someone with their rig...even if it is only helping to open some windows that have been closed all winter like in Sue's trailer.
It is also due to the folks who are so welcoming and enjoy arranging the meals, and sharing things like canoes, grills, etc..(thanks KathyP)
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Old 05-15-2005, 03:49 PM   #35
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ideas

To me the issues are attitudes and behaviors. Whether you start at the top or at the bottom, regardless of age, if the leadership is inflexible, unwelcoming, bigoted, not open to suggestions, new ideas, and constructive feedback, and not willing to roll up their sleeves and do something, then you are not going to attract, never mind keep, new members regardless of how many rallies you have or what kinds of incentives you offer.

I think WBCCI has lost touch with the mission and principles that created the association in the first place. Has anyone read Wally Byam's creed lately? One of the statements in that creed is. "To encourage clubs and rallies that provide an endless source of friendships, travel fun, and personal expression." Has anyone read the Four Freedoms defined by Wally Byam? The Freedom from arrangements, freedom from the problems of age, freedom to know, and freedom for fun.

When I read through these statements, I think this is an association that I'd like to be a member of. There is a sense of inclusiveness and camaraderie. There is a sense of adventure and openness to new ideas. There is a sense of acceptance for participation by each and every individual.

I think there is so much that WBCCI could do keeping these ideas in mind, that would go a long way towards revitalizing the association.

When our local unit got to the brink of disaster a few years back, the only options we were offered was to merge into another unit or fold. In the WBCCI bylaws these are the only options discussed. There is no assistance, written or otherwise, and no encouragement for a unit to try to rebuild. There is also no assistance available when Units start to have problems to keep them from declining further. We decided we didn't like either of the standard options. We wanted to maintain our identity so we (the three remaining active members) took it upon ourselves to keep going. Now three years later we are up to 20 members, had a feature article in a local newspaper, and are continually increasing participation at rallies.

The WBCCI website is pitifully lacking in resources and information. So much information seems to be kept secret, only available to a certain few. The Blue Book, for instance, does have some valuable info (if you can dig it out) but is supposedly only shared with officers. A lot of it should be on the web for members to browse through. It would go a long towards helping members understand the association and to participate more fully.

There needs to be a lot more flexibility for example - in the way units are structured, how communications throughout the association are handled, in what constitutes membership, in how members can participate in the election process as well as in other areas. Look at the Merit Award Program. The entire focus is basically on one type of unit structure. If you are a small unit or one that does things a little differently you have trouble meeting the criteria. There is no system to recognize success in other than traditional venues. Unless you can attend an international or regional rally the opportunity for officer training is almost non-existent. You can't submit your unit newsletter for recognition unless someone attends the International rally. On and on.

I am not talking big budgets and large staff. I have worked all my life with volunteers and limited budgets. It is more a matter of desire and will and making the most of the resources you do have. And you have to start - whether at the top or the bottom, talking is fine but doing something, anything, is a step in the right direction. After all the association is the membership. It is up to the membership to help make the association be the kind of group in which they want to be involved.
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Old 05-15-2005, 04:06 PM   #36
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I couldn't care less about the international rally, caravans, the national officers, the directory, or the blue beret. To me the only thing that matters in the WBCCI is the local units and local rallys. It will be many years before I will have time to travel and take advantage of any of the national level activities of the club. So to me, having a fun rally opportunity every month or so to supplement my own wanderings is the most important part.

SierraBreeze, it sounds like you have grown your unit from 3 to 20 members from a ground-level initiative - without any help from the WBCCI national leadership. What did you do? How do you attract new people? How do you keep them? What are your rallies like? How old are your members?

That's what this thread is about. Like you say, it starts with the membership, so tell us what you did to be a success. Other units need this information, or they will eventually go down the same road and dissapear.
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Old 05-15-2005, 04:27 PM   #37
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Membership listed via State

The one thing I would like to see would be in the membership directory have the names listed via the "State or Commonwealth" in which they live. Just a small thing to do. I'm still looking for members that live close to me. I've made it up to the "E's". Anyone live close to Front Royal, Va.??

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Old 05-15-2005, 07:26 PM   #38
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I tend to agree Steph, but in the end, without a strong national charter behind the local units, it's never going to have the horsepower behind it that it once had.....

Having that national backing is like the glue that binds it all...without it, you are like a local car club....lots of excitement, but not a lot of resources or national exposure which at times can be helpful, particularly with an American Icon.
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Old 05-15-2005, 08:39 PM   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stefrobrts
I couldn't care less about the international rally, caravans, the national officers, the directory, or the blue beret. To me the only thing that matters in the WBCCI is the local units and local rallys. It will be many years before I will have time to travel and take advantage of any of the national level activities of the club. So to me, having a fun rally opportunity every month or so to supplement my own wanderings is the most important part.

SierraBreeze, it sounds like you have grown your unit from 3 to 20 members from a ground-level initiative - without any help from the WBCCI national leadership. What did you do? How do you attract new people? How do you keep them? What are your rallies like? How old are your members?

That's what this thread is about. Like you say, it starts with the membership, so tell us what you did to be a success. Other units need this information, or they will eventually go down the same road and dissapear.
Boy, I can't tell you how much I agree! Let's hear more about how locals managed to reinvent themselves: what works, and what doesn't.

On the Blue Beret, how about if we hear some suggestions for improvement rather than complaints! What articles -- or kinds of articles -- would you like to see in the BB? Which kinds of articles or magazine sections are a waste of time?


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Old 05-15-2005, 08:39 PM   #40
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National vs local

Silvertwinkie makes a good point on the need for a National Backing. 25 years ago there were several active regional sport car clubs in the tidewater Virginia area. Ten years later there were none. Only the national SCCA and Porsche Club of America were still active. It really helps to have that national backing.
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Old 05-15-2005, 08:42 PM   #41
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response to Stephanie

What did we do? First we decided the bottom line was we enjoyed outings together with our Airstreams and we would continue with or without the support of WBCCI. Then we revised our bylaws in a way that still met the basic WBCCI criteria but were much more in line with the needs and resources of our unit. Next we decided to keep having rallies and keep publishing the Unit newsletter. What money the unit had we decided to use for those two projects until it either ran out our we started growing. We had an unwritten rally policy - decide a date and place, promote them in all the local papers we could, and do it regardless (never cancel). We consistently placed notices in every local paper we could that didn't charge a fee.

The first year and a half sometimes my family was the only rig at the "rally". But then we started getting more calls and emails from people who saw a notice in the paper or whose friends saw the notice. Then more people started to show up at rallies and visitors started to stop by and chat. Our website has also attracted attention and potential members. We even had visitors from Colorado join us at a rally last year after seeing the notice on the web. Everyone who contacts us is sent an information packet with cover letter and they are added to the newsletter list. Our email newsletter is open to anyone who has an interest and subscribes. Several times we have had people on our list for months or even a year before we hear further from them. These people often become active and even dues paying members. We just have to have patience and be persistent.

Many of us have had some not so positive interactions with the upper levels of WBCCI. We listened, we learned, and we decided that at least in our Unit we would try to be everything we considered good about being a WBCCI member. We felt that it was important to be an example, at least on the local level, of what we would like to see from WBCCI. Doesn't do any good to complain unless you are willing to make changes yourself.

We share the duties needed to keep a minimal structure in place in areas such as the newsletter and membership. Everyone chips in as their time, interests, and preferences dictate. Our rallies are very informal and unstructured. We do have happy hours, pot lucks, and campfires but even our pot lucks are not really planned. We haven't starved yet or had nothing but brownies for dinner. We welcome people for whatever amount of time they can spend whether it is a night, a short visit, or the whole time. What we do have is a lot of fun and camaraderie and a great time swapping Airstream stories. Over the last year or so anyone who has attended one rally has always attended others. Most of the time when a non member comes, by the end of the rally they have paid their dues.

Currently our membership includes young adults with kids in elementary to high school level. Other adult members represent every decade between forty to mid eighties. At least half still work full time jobs.

I could go on but this hopefully will give you some ideas. We continue to evolve and adapt as we gain new members and hear what they have to say and what they want to do as a member of the group. For instance, our rally schedule this year is almost entirely the result of input, ideas, and offers from new members.

The key for us is to keep in mind the thing that ties us all together - Airstreams and sharing great adventures with other Airstream owners.
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Old 05-15-2005, 09:01 PM   #42
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Thanks, SierraBreeze, those are great ideas. If you'd like to elaborate on the kinds of changes you made to your bylaws, I'd be interested in hearing it. I think the idea of advertising far and wide and welcoming everyone is a great one. It's actually on my list already - that units need to welcome visitors and let people feel free to drop in and see what the club is about.

I am going to a planning meeting for our unit in two weeks. They are very interested in any changes they can make to bring more younger, working age members onboard. Thye have been a great group of folks, very welcoming to us, and they are open to change. I am goin gto print out your response above, and any other suggestions you'd like to make, I'd love to hear it.

Thanks!
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