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Old 03-19-2005, 10:13 PM   #1
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International Changes

Did anyone else read the Club News article in the Blue Beret with the proposal to eliminate the International Rally? Any comments? It was brought to my attention at the unit luncheon this afternoon. I haven't been to an international and don't plan to attend one, so I guess it doesn't mean much to me either way, but some of the older members thought this was the end of the club.
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Old 03-19-2005, 10:36 PM   #2
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I just happened to read through my copy today and certainly noticed the info about the International. Also, the part about combining some of the regions (from 12 to 7).

Actually, the proposal is to hold the International at one of the regionals. The article stated that the International is becoming a financial strain as well as a burden on the members who volunteer.

I'm not so sure it spells the ending of the club ... but to go from 20,000 down to 8,000 ... they have to do something.
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Old 03-19-2005, 10:41 PM   #3
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International Changes

Greetings Stephanie!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stefrobrts
Did anyone else read the Club News article in the Blue Beret with the proposal to eliminate the International Rally? Any comments? It was brought to my attention at the unit luncheon this afternoon. I haven't been to an international and don't plan to attend one, so I guess it doesn't mean much to me either way, but some of the older members thought this was the end of the club.
There has been quite a bit of discussion on this topic over on Hunter's Airstream List on Yahoo.com. I know that the proposal put an immediate STOP to my plans to become a Lifetime Member - - if the International is watered down in the manner discussed in the proposal, I don't know whether I will continue my membership (this is my tenth year and I joined when I was 35). There is only one Regional Rally that is ever held when I could possibly hope to attend, and then that depends upon the severity of the Winter and when our last day of school falls in late May or early June so if the proposal were to go through as it stands it would likely be 20 or more years before I could hope to attend another International Rally.

To me, the change as proposed, would effectively kill the WBCCI's crowning jewel. The International Rally offers so many activities for young and old - - and it is truly amazing the number of activities offered by the youth program - - I hadn't realized the number of daily youth activities until I was parked among several families with children from 8 years old through teenagers. I just cannot picture an International Rally without Independence Day, Canada Day, and Wally Byam's birthday being celebrated.

Kevin
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Old 03-19-2005, 10:43 PM   #4
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I was shocked to read the club had 20,000 members in the '80s, and only 8,000 now! Considering how many old Airstreams are on the road, the club is really missing out on attracting younger members.
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Old 03-19-2005, 11:49 PM   #5
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Talking Thought-provoking piece..

My sense after reading article twice was that it represented views of the author, who was publishing for responses and reactions... Essence of proposal was to eliminate the major hoopla around "The International" rally, and declare one of the major regional's to be the acting International each year.. Dates would vary, locations would vary, and region hosting would end up doing extra logistics when it was their year..

Membership nationally has clearly dropped, attendance at "International" has dropped from over 3,000 Airstreams in 90's to fewer than 2,000, and something's gotta give... I don't want to prompt everyone to fire up the flamethrowers, but some of the local WBCCI chapters are aging, and PC-illiterate, and celebrate a couple rally's at local fairgrounds while gathering steam to take two weeks or more to attend International as a group.. Might as well rename the Unit "The Rolling Retirees"...

I feel (Note: it's a "Feeling..." Can't be argued with according to Dr. Phil) that younger members (under age 60..) are looking for weekend outings to interesting places, and possibly week-long caravans with basics of reservations and moral/technical support (not every meal and hourly time commitment) covered. The holes in our Unit's calendar from June through August mean that not much of interest is available during prime summer RV months, due to pre-occupation with International... The big national event Rallies of the past like Oshkosh Air Show, Albuquerque Balloon Festival, Kentucky Derby and others have faded away, as the work overwhelmed the volunteers, and the fund-raising potential wasn't worth the drain. The wonderful Rose Parade rally has been committed again in Pasadena, and is worth supporting before the volunteers get weary there... Hopefully the Indy 500 Rally will continue along with Mardi Gras, and maybe a few other Nascar or PGA events could be basis for a short Rally.. My feeling (again personal..) is that pot-lucks and social hour are not reasons for a Rally, just possible elements of one that is successful.. Flag ceremonies and religious services are more contentious.

Thank goodness for Nor-Cal Forum and several other regional forum groups that take up slack from regular units, and for those lucky enough to have an active unit with younger members and lots of shorter interesting events - congratulations! I'm wondering if WBCCI would "charter" some of the Forum groups as "Units" without formal "Officers", as officers needed to manage workload around the International and Regional Rally participation...

I suspect they'll get lots of reaction, and it will be an interesting discussion at the International in Missouri, but since only people who regularly attend International's will discuss it, outcome might be predictably supportive of keeping it going... I think it's worth considering, and idea to reduce number of regions is probably appropriate as well. I'd prefer to see 15 or more events on the schedule each year, with a presumption that most members would make a handful, but everyone would find some events of interest... Current model here seems to be to book a few, and then speculate about reasons for No-Shows... Then again, perhaps I'm becoming anti-social...

Cindy Reed at WBCCI Offices in Jackson Center is looking for responses.. Fire away!!

John McG
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Old 03-19-2005, 11:54 PM   #6
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You know, I seem to recall about a year ago, having several conversations here on this forum, where some agreed that "The Club" was going in a direction that was leading to these eventual problems. Heck I even posted it on the WBCCI forum too. At that time, there were a good number of folks on the mountain top, pom-poms and all singing all the praises of "The Club" screaming "Come one, Come All!" and at that time I couldn't help but feel that some of these people were in total denial of the facts.

All I can say is that the younger generation for the most part is not willing to pay fees and dues to help fix a broken, stubborn, set in it's ways type club. It's really a shame too, because the club could have been so much more than it was, yet through "The Clubs" own short vision and tight grip appears in the throws of a REAL membership/financial meltdown that some of us predicted a while ago. I also believe that if you removed the requirement of being a WBCCI member to be a part of VAC, those 8,000 remaining members would go even further south in a New York minute. The VAC folks have their heads on straight!

Unless REAL change happens, it will continue to spiral downward as more and more of what once was, goes away, piece by piece until it's just isolated units across the country that are able to meet the needs of their local members. Think I'm wrong? Then answer this question and convert me....Airstream is sellling more RVs than it ever has before. It has more vintage units still on the road, in use, than any other coach on the planet. In 2003, every new Airstream came with a one year free WBCCI membership. Today, the Airstream factory can't even keep up with demand. Rumors are everywhere that Airstream is even expanding the factory to bring back the "Classic" Airstream Motorhome line which some predict will also cost as much as the GNP of a 3rd world country (and Airsreams in general aren't inexpensive, so the folks that buy them have the means to spend the money for membership). So, with all these new Airstreams being sold to all these able younger folks, and so many vintage units still in operation (more than any other brand), how can WBCCI membership continue to fall and be in such a crisis today? I think you all know the answer, but if not, read paragrah two up above.
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Old 03-20-2005, 12:26 AM   #7
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my 30 cents...

We're not young-young -- late 30's - early 40's. We've just gotten to the point in our lives where we can have a vintage AS, and a little time and money to work on it. We'd be hard-pressed to go to the Int'l Rally, too.

Up until 2 months ago I didn't know that the WBCCI existed or that there were as many people excited about their RVs. (We have friends who have a SOB and they are not involved with a club or forum at all).

I think it might be a good move on the part of the WBCCI to downsize a bit. This will give more focus to the smaller regional groups, possibly giving them the opportunity to spread the word more.

I think the WBCCI and other AS related groups are lucky have as members as they do, in this era of individualism. Rotary, Elks, and many other long-standing clubs are having a hard time recruiting younger members. This may be attributed to the 'coolness' factor. I think these institutions are perceived as being boring. Older meeting styles, slower pace and a mainly austere business style have hurt them. A few years ago the Girl Scouts had to re-invent themselves to re-energize their membership recruiting efforts. Over 65% of their local unit operating budgets are cookie sales. Part of their plan was to give a lot more control to the individual units across the country. It worked!

One thing that strikes my fancy about the WBCCI and forums such as this is that everyone is genuinely excited about their hobby. And they have something spectacular to show for it. Camaraderie like this doesn’t happen in other clubs. Most other hobby-related clubs and forums that I've been associated with end up in downward-spiraling competitions of who's is better that who's and mine's better than yours.

just my 30 cents worth...
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Old 03-20-2005, 05:49 AM   #8
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Buttercup,
I am in agreement with your assesment, another issue that comes to mind is the total demographics of the WBCCI, and Airstream ownership in general; (I am guessing here in that I have not seen the numbers) The average owner is getting younger, we/they don't have large blocks of free time to go to International or on longer carvans, and they don't see the point in joining an organization that does not cater to their needs. Also an issue is the number of other quality RV's on the road, it used to be if you retired and wanted the best to travel in you usually bought an Airstream, but now with the advent of the Monster 5'ver, and Bus Homes, the Airstream is no longer the first choice for fulltimers, it is considered cramped, heavy( due to market demand for a home on wheels), and short on outside storage space. I don't feel this way, but then again I am not trying to drag the entire Patio section of Walmart with me either. Those of us that settled on our Airstreams did so for a variety of reasons, some because of the "mystique" others because of the build "quality" and some myself included because it is a realization of a dream made affordable by the fact we can rebuild them ourselves for a fraction of the cost of even a low end SOB, we just make our "payments" in varied order rather than monthly.

Eventually we do plan to make International, I just hope it is still around at that time. I have to plan months in advance to get vacation time and even then it is not guaranteed. We are semi active in our local unit, again a constraint of our jobs ( I spend 280+ days a year on the road away from home), and I do socialize with other units when their rallys coincide with my schedule in a given area. It is one part of the WBCCI that I find wonderful, you can have friends all over the country...wherever you go
Just a few of my thoughts on the matter.

Aaron
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Old 03-20-2005, 07:25 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stefrobrts
Did anyone else read the Club News article in the Blue Beret with the proposal to eliminate the International Rally? Any comments? It was brought to my attention at the unit luncheon this afternoon. I haven't been to an international and don't plan to attend one, so I guess it doesn't mean much to me either way, but some of the older members thought this was the end of the club.
Stef,
Thanks for bring this up... I had the Blue Beret but had not read that article yet...I can see the point(s) that were brought up, and I can see the reaction of the older members, but with the reduction in membership numbers I don't think they have too many choices. What is being suggested makes sense, it will make is harder for some to attend Internationls as Kevin, pointed out. But it might make it easier for others. Most of use can't get the 2-3 weeks off it takes to attend an International Rally I know I can't. Maybe with the rotation of Internationals to different regions of the country it would allow more people to have the experience?

Aaron
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Old 03-20-2005, 07:42 AM   #10
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International could be every four years on the "classic" date and the same place each time. People could plan ahead and attending would be a big deal. The Event should then measure up. The between years could have super regionals with several regions pulling together or just combining them to make fewer.
I was very disappointed at the International in Vermont for same results. People are looking for different things. As a new guy I was looking for information on AS and travel and equipment ect. I really thought there would be vendors (other than the AS rummage sale). People who have been doing this for 20 years have a different mind.
Another exampe. I am interested in leading Caravan's. But you have to take the course. That's OK, I want to take the course. You have to go to International to take the course. Now there's a problem.


I have to go drill out rivet now....
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Old 03-20-2005, 08:20 AM   #11
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For all intents I felt that the article was a breath of fresh air. It's the first time an officer of the International (next year's president) has had the gumption to stand up and say things need to change.

I know our local unit has talked in a similar vein and its interesting in how in private, as to I talk to our folks individually, they all recognize the problems and want to see change. I'll be going to our next unit rally in a couple of weeks and since I'm a Trustee, it will be interesting to see the slant of the local board.

Change is coming, and in our unit next year's president is already making changes. Prime time camping season will no longer be reserved for lunches and going to International.

I was asked to do a rally next year "just like the ones you do for the forum" was the request of next year's unit president. The May luncheon is out the door and a rally will be held instead. June which was held aside since some of the members usually are on their way to the International, will now have a rally. We kicked around an idea to do July rally named "The Left Behind Rally" for those unable to make the committment of the International.

August which has been a nightmare for rallys here in the midwest due to excessive heat and our ability to seem to pick sites that have little or insufficent power, will now be an inside event. September which was forgotten will now become a rally date also.

The morning breakfast together is now under the microscope. Do we always have to do this every day? Just as the International article talks about the infrastructure that has to be hauled around to do the International, we locally have developed our own overhead which must be hauled to each rally to support breakfasts, church services, game nights. Does anybody care to sleep in late in the morning, and sit around a campfire at night? Does each hour of the day require a script?

The regional rally is coming up here in a few weeks and the regional president promises a program that is so jammed pack with activities, that there won't be a moment during the entire week where there won't be something to do. Hmmm...also be aware that he is forwarding to each unit a list of the responsiblities that each unit will be carrying out to make this all happen. Even though this event is being held in the metro area here in St. Louis, I'll stay away, and you will find most of the younger membership will also.

This is the same event that I attended 3 years ago where some well meaning members from another unit told me that next time I come back to a regional rally, I better have my numbers on my trailer. Well folks the numbers still aren't there and by the way I won't be there to show you.

Yes, change will happen. To the benefit of the club or to its eventual demise.

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Old 03-20-2005, 09:17 AM   #12
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We met Jim about 5 years ago at a rally. Our hats off for his leadership and courage. We attended last year's international (our first) and there are changes desperately needed. We are not youngsters but can see the crying need for change. This is just the beginning of a dialogue. It is our hope that it is civil, tolerant and most of all successful.
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Old 03-20-2005, 09:26 AM   #13
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I do think WBCCI is at a crossroads. Do I really need the Blue Beret when such outstanding publications as "Airstream Life" and "The Vintage Advantage" exist? Do I need an annual International if the Airstream Homecoming picks up steam? As an aside, I doubt the Airstream Homecoming takes 158 different committees to put on like the International does. If WBCCI doesn't change, more and more splinter groups will form that will continue to erode membership.
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Old 03-20-2005, 09:39 AM   #14
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I truly hope you all are right. You'll forgive my skepticism since I've heard the winds of chance speech quite a few times in the past two years. I've seen surveys be pushed under the table, real wastes of time to change the WBCCI name to include the word "Airstream", the conversation to include SOBs to be part of WBCCI and on one side saying change will happen, while in the same breath, blowing off every concern we in the younger generation have presented. WBCCI has clearly been mismanaged and squandered for a long time now to keep up a club that serves its current membership well, but at the same time, it has lacked vision. Frankly, I thought this day would be a few years out yet, but I am glad to see what appears to be a real concern now that the pre- 90s Soviet type management style might in fact be on it's way out. I’ve been on the change mountain top for at least 2 years now....and I can’t help but feel like Reagan telling the Gorbechev to “tear down this wall” and that in this case the wall could actually be coming down sometime soon.

If this change is real (and boy Jack, it really sounds like some groups are gonna hit the pavement hard...mabye over compensate) I'll make you all this promise as I have in the past.... if things truly start to get better and it becomes less "stale" as it has been and real changes happen, I'll renew or start my membership to WBCCI again. Though I don't live in Missouri like Jack, I also have the motto "show me", don't ask for money (membership dues, fees, etc) before you have at the very least, a solid foundation built before you come and say, help us change the structure of the house on top.

Best of luck to you WBCCIers. I, and I would guess a large number of folks like me will be watching closely with great interest in seeing the process unfold and hauling our newer Airstream to some WBCCI rallys perhaps in the future.
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