“You remind me of my husband and I when we first joined” was something I heard a few times last weekend as Deke and I went to our first Wally Byam Caravan Club International meeting. The meeting was for the Northern Illinois Chapter of the WBCCI, an organization that we’d read about in blogs or on the Airstream site, but didn’t really know much about. Dwight Dixon, husband of Northern Illinois President Carol Dixon found us on airforums.com and invited us to come and see what the club was all about.
Personally, I’ve never met a nicer group of strangers. From helping us find a spot at the Lee County 4-H Campgrounds when we arrived on a very rainy Friday night to inviting us in to see their Airstreams, we enjoyed every minute of getting to know the people that kept Airstream caravans going. And what a group it was. We were the youngest folks there but a lot of the members led busier lives than we do. Some travel only on weekends, some up to 40% of the time in a range of Airstreams from a ’63 trailer (The Dixons), a rare-and-in-fantastic-condition ’77 Airstream motorhome (The Goykes) and a beautiful 2005 International (The Whitesells). Some have been in the club for almost 20 years, several owned more than one Airstream or were on their second or third model and Sue Chestnut, Treasurer, has been in her post for 16 years. These are people that have lived their lives and raised their families with each other around the passion that they all share, which is Airstreams and caravaning the WBCCI way.
You can find a club anywhere in the country and Canada. There are regions divided up by states/provinces, of which Illinois is in Region 5. At our meeting we were installing the new Officers for 2010, so the Region 5 President, Bob Moyers and his wife Lee joined us for the installation. Bob is in his 70s and still drives big rigs for UPS part time at his home in Kentucky, which would be why he handled the biggest Airstream Ive ever seen with ease – The Airstream Land Yacht.
I’m already looking forward to seeing these people again, and its a bit upsetting to think that spring, and camping season is so far away. Deke and I’ve talked non-stop about our weekend and last night we figured out what was so special about it — we’ve found our community.
In a city like Chicago, sometimes community is hard to come by. We have our condo association and our friends from work, but I wouldnt say we’re part of a community. We dont have a block party every summer, we dont have a club or a group we meet up with on Saturdays. We have friends that we like spending time with but there’s nothing that joins us to those people– there’s no commonality that we share. I think that’s the most attractive thing for us about the WBCCI — we belong, and no difference in age or occupation will change our status with the club.