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Old 10-18-2009, 03:35 PM   #197
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I almost hesitate to post here, as this thread has gone way off track. But here it is:

I am currently reading "Trailer Travel, Here and Abroad" by Wally Byam. In this book, Wally spells out exactly why the WBCCI is the way it is. I recommend that ALL of you get this book and read it.

Here's the deal:
On his first Caravan, to Central America in 1951, it was an utter DISASTER! Wally and a couple of his customers/buddies decided to go on this trip. The buddies talked to their buddies and.....it wound up being 63 trailers starting out. They encountered all manner of hardship, and everything that could go wrong, went wrong. They broke axles. They broke hitches. They broke cars. Tempers flared. People hated each other. They made it halfway down, and Wally told them it was going to get worse. A third of them sold their coaches and flew home at that point. They soldiered on. In the end, about 22 of the original 63 made it.

PeeWee, were you on this one?

Wally swore he'd never do it again. But he did. But this time, he got more organized. And it went better. And on the next one, he was more organized yet. And so it went, until finally, they were pretty much military in the way in which they operated. But it WORKED!

So, what does that mean here? It means that WBCCI, with all the rules and regs, was meant for people who actually CARAVAN. If you're just going to the lake that's 50 miles down the road, then there is no reason under the sun to join the WBCCI. All the rules, regs, and baloney, are for real honest to goodness CARAVANS that are actually GOING SOMEWHERE! If you don't want to form a group and go to South America, if you only want to go to your local campground, then why joint at all? Wally WENT places and DID things. He did it in LARGE groups, and that is why he put in place all the rules and regs. On his first caravan, he did not have all that baloney, and it was a nightmare.

So to me, it's real simple: If I want to get a group together and go from Capetown to Cairo, then maybe WBCCI is the way to go. It WAS, many years ago. Maybe now, it is not. I don't know. My 84 year old grandpa just let his long standing membership go because he said "It's not fun anymore." But, he never took his Airstream to South America. He never took his to Canada, or Cuba, or Guatemala, or Africa. So here's the deal: If you're just a casual tourist out to bippity bop in your shiny silver tube around the U.S., then of what use is the WBCCI at all? Wally went all over the world, and that is why he had the rules and regs. Perhaps the organization has morphed into something else. But the book very clearly explains what happened in the 1950's. Wally took on the job of leading a large group, against his better judgement, survived it, swore he'd never do it again, but then did do it again but with an increasingly strict set of guidelines to make it all work.

It's fine to be happy go lucky when I just meet my buddy at the campground in PA. But I really do need more rigid guidance if I'm traveling enmasse to Brasil. That is where WBCCI shined. I see NO reason to have a bunch of rigid baloney if you're just hooking up a weekend here and there at the local campground to roast some hot dogs. BUT, that is not what WBCCI was originally about. SO, if you WBCCI's mission has changed, then perhaps it's pomp and circumstance for the occasional weekend hotdog roast is justified. But that is not what Wally originally created.

It's all in the book. Just read it.

I sold my '77 Excella which had both Sag and Separation. Got an Avion now, so I'm out of the running all the way around. I respect the HECK out of Wally Byam! Like many on here, I thought he was just a shrewd salesman until I read his book. The guy was for real. But I fear that what he created has strayed a lot from the original intent.

By the way , Wally said that a trailer in the 24 to 26 foot range was about perfect for serious traveling. You can go to 30 foot, and there will be one time in a hundred that you'll get stuck that the shorter guys won't, but beyond that is too big.

My current rig is a 34' triple axle. I'd like to supplement it with a shorter tandem axle Airstream. I'm looking. Still have my eye on my grandpa's '58 Traveler 17 footer. Wally said they (the 16 to 18 footers) were the true go anywhere machines. But they did get a little tight.

Best of luck to you all,
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Old 10-18-2009, 03:49 PM   #198
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Worse than hydrae... nuns with yardsticks. Sorry, Gene, for any flashbacks.

If this thread was a disussion of the Kiwanis or the Jaycees or the Optimists, I wouldn't have much interest. Maybe the fate of the WBCCI doesn't matter much in the larger scheme of things. On the other, I don't want to underestimate the the "form-a-committee-and-send-a-survey" mentality of the Thor/Airstream mothership.

The genius of Wally Byam was to use the club, the caravans, red numbers and berets as grassroots marketing. And there was a time when that approach was successful. When we bought out vintage Airstream, we learned that my wife's grandmother always wanted an Airstream. We found out my grandmother always wanted an Airstream. Not lost on me is the fact my wife's grandmother is dead and my grandmother just turned 87. The "we always wanted an Airstream" demographic dates back to before the Baby Boom.

Maybe a vibrant, dynamic WBCCI wouldn't be enough to restore the luster of the Airstream brand... but it wouldn't hurt. It also might convince Thor/Airstream to build something other than a same old box with an aluminum skin.
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Old 10-18-2009, 03:59 PM   #199
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Mike, your Airstream is known as the "flamingo magnet" to me and mine! I totally agree with you....why ARE we subsidizing folks we will likely never meet? I would rather have $1 (current FCU unit dues) go to WBCCI and let the unit have the $55! At least you would have some inkling of how your dues are being spent, and you can ask the unit Prez, face to face, if you are concerned about it.

As my former boss summed it up once, "progress follows the hearse." I think that will likely be WBCCI's fate.
In my initial posting to this thread, I mentioned our experience at the Regional Rally a couple of weeks ago. I was not pleased that I was being asked to pay another $75 membership fee, when we had only been members for less than six months. When this was discussed with IBT President, Tom Collier, he confirmed that we would be required to pay the full membership. Since I had just read his article in the Blue Beret concerning WBCCI's financial situation, I expected that response. But, it sure was hard to take from someone who was traveling on our dime......along with, I suspect, other IBT "important people."

This thread is becoming even more useful.....I'm learning some Latin.....four other foreign languages, but never an opportunity for Latin......thanks guys, for broadening my horizons!

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Old 10-18-2009, 04:24 PM   #200
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Good post, Jim. It reminds me that others have said the IBT is run like the army by ex-military. If I wanted to join the army, I'd have done so 45 or 50 years ago, certainly not now.

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Old 10-18-2009, 04:40 PM   #201
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Good post, Jim. It reminds me that others have said the IBT is run like the army by ex-military. If I wanted to join the army, I'd have done so 45 or 50 years ago, certainly not now.

Gene

However, if you wanted to lead 10-100 campers anywhere, for more then a couple days, Let alone for weeks on end, you would have to run it like the military. (and I say this from, shall we say, a very knowledgeable view)

That is EXACTLY what WB learned. No matter what the event, if it includes multiple movements of equipment or people, it needs to be run that way. We have done bike rides where the organizers where setting up and serving breakfast to 1000's of cyclists, loading their camping gear, moving it to the next nights site, laying it out for pickup, setting up showers, making and serving dinner, for days on end. Believe me, it takes a steel will and lots of planning and scheduling to make it work.
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Old 10-18-2009, 05:47 PM   #202
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It's true, Dakota, that a caravan or mass bike ride needs to be run with some military precision, but the organization should not. If the organizer of a caravan goes overboard, then you have petty tyranny and you can't lead if no one will follow. Even a general does not have absolute authority because he has to know what his troops are willing to do and if he pushes them too hard, disaster can ensue.

As a historical note, when pioneers were coming west, they hired a wagon master. The wagon master would require everyone to sign an agreement (usually called a "constitution", something we would call bylaws or a contract) that everyone would follow his orders. These people were getting into something few, if any, had a clue what they were getting into. As such, absolute authority of the wagon master was required. However, even that could be a bad thing because sometimes the wagon master was a fool, and the pioneers would revolt, perhaps getting themselves into more trouble.

A caravan today in the US would not need such absolute authority in the leader. One to Tierra del Fuego would. Each situation requires a different level of the division of authority between the leader and the led.

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Old 10-18-2009, 06:14 PM   #203
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I guess where I was going with that thought was that many of those up at the national level, were in the WBCCI back in the big caravan days, and may have carried some of that mentality with them.

(Let nothing I have said here, or anywhere, lead anyone to think I am "defending" the current status quo of the club leadership, We are members, because the local unit seems like good people, and if in the future it doesn't work out, we see no harm)
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Old 10-18-2009, 07:05 PM   #204
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Odd thing about this thread is that most of the posters are not club members nor have been. Some that rite code had been that in past days of ye old. But for the most part most of the negative posters have not. Another interesting thing is that the same people post on every WBCCI thread. If they hate the club so much, why follow the WBCCI threads so closely. Why lambaste something others enjoy so much. How is this "playing nice?"

I wonder how this thread would have gone if Chief's first contact had been a Unit like FCU, NEU, or the WDCU. I wonder if his world would be different now.

Yes the club is in trouble. Yes there are serious flaws. Some of us are trying hard to get things going in the right direction again.

An interesting fact: in my unit, the WDCU, 95% of the members are also Airforums members. Close to all of them are supporting members.

So now solve the world by telling me how wrong I am....
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Old 10-18-2009, 07:14 PM   #205
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Well, for what it's worth, and I'm only partway through the book, Wally did say that they held democratic meetings to decide what would be done the next day. So it wasn't like he was Der Fuhrer or the Supreme Dictator or anything like that. Like if they had to choose between one of two routes to get to one of two destinations the next day, he would get on the bullhorn, call a meeting in the center (they took to parking the "outfits" in big circles, tow vehicle pointing in) of the circle. He would lay out the scenario, lay out the options, they'd all discuss it, then take a vote. Whatever the majority chose is what they did. Wally organized the whole thing, but he wasn't the whip cracking tyrant. He just learned from his past endeavors and tried to be more efficient with the next batch.

Another example of this is that on the first Caravan, everybody paid in some dues and that was to cover generators, extra tow cars, and some other services such as that. Well, the gensets were sized to run everybody's lights, but many insisted on running their electric refrigerators (didn't have the LP ones yet) and that caused them to burn up the gensets. People then got mad. They burnt up several tow cars. In short, people got mad when the services they'd paid for (at least thought they'd paid for) fell short. Wally got tired of hearing all the guff, so on the next one, he said "No services. You bring all you need, expect nothing from anybody." Now in reality everyone would help each other out, but it was a goodwill kind of thing. He got rid of the expectation that he could be the miracle worker out in the jungle.

Oddly enough, on that first caravan, he basically scavenged his own trailer so much to provide spare parts for other people that he wound up abandoning it along the side of the road in Guatemala. He said a couple years later, he received an order from Guatemala for a bunch of replacement parts that strangely coincided with the parts he'd robbed off that coach. Looks like somebody rebuilt that one

The blue berets came about from necessity as well. Most of you probably already know this story...but basically early on he'd get his group out and about and he couldn't tell who was with him and who wasn't. He liked the looks of the hats they wore in France and so adopted them as the "badge" of the club for the simple reason that you don't see that many people out and about wearing blue berets, so it made it easy to spot the people traveling with you in a crowd.

All in all, it's very practical the stuff he came up with.

Now if they've twisted all of that stuff to something else, then I guess all bets are off. But, at least in the context of big caravans going places enmasse, I can see where the rules and regs have their place. At least those that apply to logistics of large groups....the stuff about which jacket to wear to which occasion and how to fly the flags...I haven't gotten to that part of the book yet. But, I've still got 2/3 to go.

It really is a good book. I got lucky and scored an almost affordable copy on Amazon. Been looking for a year.....

see ya on the road,
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Old 10-18-2009, 07:16 PM   #206
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Thank you very much!

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Odd thing about this thread is that most of the posters are not club members nor have been. Some that rite code had been that in past days of ye old. But for the most part most of the negative posters have not. Another interesting thing is that the same people post on every WBCCI thread. If they hate the club so much, why follow the WBCCI threads so closely. Why lambaste something others enjoy so much. How is this "playing nice?"

I wonder how this thread would have gone if Chief's first contact had been a Unit like FCU, NEU, or the WDCU. I wonder if his world would be different now.

Yes the club is in trouble. Yes there are serious flaws. Some of us are trying hard to get things going in the right direction again.

An interesting fact: in my unit, the WDCU, 95% of the members are also Airforums members. Close to all of them are supporting members.

So now solve the world by telling me how wrong I am....
Frank,

Good advice, good words and a better understanding of the situtation facing Airforums and the WBCCI.

Thank you!

Dale "Pee Wee" Schwamborn
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Old 10-18-2009, 07:36 PM   #207
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Thanks Frank! Here's to our fun unit and all the fun we have!!! like we will next summer as well... lots of great rallies lined up - especially the WBBB. Yeah, I was down pretty hard on the club this summer... but spending time with my unit members has put everything into perspective once more.... Go Wally!
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Old 10-18-2009, 07:48 PM   #208
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I can't solve the world, I am still working on solving why the same people post to ask why the same people post. It's like looking in the mirror with a mirror. I don't think it ever does end.

It's good non-members post, they need to be listened to and courted with a difference to be offered next time around. It's good members post they need to be heard and allowed to express themselves.

There was a thread about why did you leave. I had left my local unit but my posting my experience in that thread brought down severe criticism from members of my former unit and I was told I was never a real Airstreamer. Well I am still in the club, even a member of that former unit and I guess I still don't feel like a real Airstreamer. Oh not because we haven't owned and do own Airstreams. Not because we haven't gone thousands of miles to Internationals and Region and local rallies because we have. It isn't because we haven't paid our dues each year. It is because we don't fit the mold. But to be honest we don't want to fit the mold. We want the mold numbered and retired and we want the club to start opening up to all Airstreamers and points of view and to listen more than it tries to silence with self admiration and mutual appreciation and get busy on retaining and recruiting. This thread could be the best promotional tool you have had the opportunity to seize. How did you do? Did you win someone over or did you defend yourself brag on your self and tell the posters they haven't a right to say or the proper attitude to say it? Did you validate the posters' opinions and feelings or did you use their bad experience to pump your own selves up even higher?
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Old 10-18-2009, 07:54 PM   #209
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Odd thing about this thread is that most of the posters are not club members nor have been. Some that rite code had been that in past days of ye old. But for the most part most of the negative posters have not. Another interesting thing is that the same people post on every WBCCI thread. If they hate the club so much, why follow the WBCCI threads so closely. Why lambaste something others enjoy so much. How is this "playing nice?"

Yes the club is in trouble. Yes there are serious flaws. Some of us are trying hard to get things going in the right direction again.
Frank, I think you tend to see things in black and white. Nobody has said they "hate" the club. We follow this because we do care and would like to see the club change. Quite a few who have posted are members and others who have not been members of it have learned a lot about it by following the threads.

What is "negative" is in the eyes of the beholder. When you went to the international in Madison, your posts about it were livid about parking. That seems to make you a "negative" poster by your standards.

I'm glad you have realized the club is in "trouble". Your posts a year ago only saw great things about the WBCCI and now you appear to have learned something about the problems. That will help you identify issues and help to change the WBCCI.

Gene
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Old 10-18-2009, 08:06 PM   #210
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Gene I am a man who calls it like I see it. You on the other hand are a man who has based his facts on what others have told him. No, I am not playing nice now, and I don't care. Gene cannot help himself but comment on the WBCCI. He is somewhat of a club stalker. If you look under his posts you will find he has commented on 100% of EVERY WBCCI thread there is. He has done this by reading what others say and calling it fact. He has never even been to a WBCCI rally. Chief on the other hand I can understand his reaction. He has been to a WBCCI and it was far from desirable. Had my first experience been what his was, I probably would be talking differently right now.

My black and white experience has been that EVERY rally I have been to has been a WBCCI rally. My experience has been that EVERY one, with exception of the International, has been exactly as I hear the Airforum ones described. My experience is that my kids are bummed that the season is over for us. But I talk from experience, not from what I read.
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