Jul 1, 2024 | Club News, Rally/Events

President’s Corner – July 2024

Members and Friends

LaVerne and I just returned from a four-month, 10,000-mile tour of our country, visiting mainly with our Airstream friends, attending Club rallies, joining a historical Vintage Airstream Club mini-caravan, with in-between stays at some Airstream-themed parks, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers parks and, of course, unique Harvest Hosts. No surprise, though, was the enjoyment of meeting fellow members (and leaders in the Regions and Local Clubs) and hearing feedback on their experiences (and ideas) about our Club. This President’s Corner will focus on these topics:

Harvest Host stay in Pine Bluffs Distilling (WY)

Topics for this issue:

  1. The Health of our Club (Membership Growth and Community)
  2. Alternative and Airstream-themed camping
  3. Updates on the Club Business Side

The Health of our Club

I look at this in two dimensions: the “Fun” and the “Business” sides. While hopefully you all experience only the “Fun” side, it’s also been important for me to learn more from our leaders at the Region and Local Club their perspective (and goals) for the “Business” side. Essentially, what needs to occur to ensure our members thoroughly enjoy the “Fun” side and how to assist our 500-plus volunteer leaders with the jobs they take on.

If measured solely on our membership growth and retention, the data shows that our almost 70-year-old Club is at a membership vibrancy not seen in 20 years. Each month averages slightly more than 50 new memberships per week. Our retention (renewal percentage) remains at the high 80% level, meaning those members who join find what they’re looking for. Compare that with other long-term “social” clubs where membership has declined, and the associated social interactions fade. We know this, but there’s something special about our Club that signals that we’ve been able to balance the historical traditions of our Club with changing family vacationing trends, changing demographics, and the more relaxed approach that most “campers” prefer these days.

After a long trip, one of our friends (and a Club member) stated, “This is exactly why I’m in the Club; it’s the best thing ever…” She was referring to the same thing LaVerne and I experienced while traveling the country; everywhere she went, there was a welcoming group of Club members (Local Club rallies, surprise roadside meetings, Airstream-themed parks, etc.).


Alternative and Airstream-themed camping

Our “Pro-Tip” after four months of camping across the US is to leverage your ownership of an Airstream and membership in our Club.  Some ideas:

  • Use our ACI-only Courtesy Parking. It’s free, exclusive to our Club members, and a great way to find a quick overnight spot as you meander on your trips. And it will improve as we launch our improved experience in partnership with Harvest Hosts in the fall.
  • Check out some of the numerous “Airstream-themed parks”. They are residential communities of Airstream owners, usually Airstream-only, that allow camping. You’ll not only have a relaxing experience at fantastic prices, but you’ll also make friends and reconnect with people you’ve met over the years. This last year, we’ve stayed at Washington Land Yacht Harbor, The Range Vintage RV Resort, North Texas Airstream Community, Penn Wood Airstream Park, Texas Airstream Harbor, and probably a few more. As private entities (not owned by ACI), they are not part of our camping map, but more information can be found on the Airstream Parks Facebook page or through a public website search for “Airstream Parks.”

Serenity at Penn Wood Airstream Park


Harvest Hosts

Want a different, more private, localized experience? Want to stay off-grid at a winery, an alpaca farm, a farmer’s field, or even overnight in a church parking lot? And often have the place to yourself? Harvest Hosts (a partner of ACI) is the way to go. After the annual subscription cost, stays are free, but with the expectation that visitors purchase roughly $30 in value from the hosts.

 


US Army Corps of Engineers

Perhaps one of the “secrets” for inexpensive camping, usually near a body of water. Check out the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Recreational Areas. Overnight rates can be as low as $20, discounted even more if you have a Lifetime National Parks Pass. We love them and stay at them whenever we can. From the USACE website:

“The US Army Corps of Engineers is one of the nation’s leading federal providers of outdoor recreation with more than 400 lake and river projects in 43 states. Visitors of all ages can enjoy traditional activities like hiking, boating, fishing, camping and hunting, and for those slightly more adventurous there is snorkeling, windsurfing, whitewater rafting, mountain biking and geocaching.”

US Army Corps of Engineers Lake near Solon, IA


The Club Business Side

We have our “Fun” side and the “Business” side in our Club. Here’s a couple of updates on the “Business” side:

  • A more detailed update is also included in this Blue Beret Bulletin, but on behalf of the International Board of Trustees, thanks for an overwhelming response to the proposed Constitutional change to create a volunteer Finance Director position to assist the IBT on financial opportunities and financial reporting.
  • Our Club membership continues to thrive, measured by new members (160 new memberships per month) and current member retention (roughly 85%).
  • Our 2024 International Rally in Sedalia will be the second consecutive event with more than 1,000 attendees and likely to be our largest rally in 20 years, eclipsing the record set last year by our Rally2023 in Rock Springs, Wyoming (1,200 Airstreams).
  • Led by our new interim International Treasurer and Finance Committee, our International Board of Trustees just approved a new policy outlining a three-faceted (general, infrastructure, and software) financial reserve policy. This is a great (and long overdue) step forward, consistent with our IBT strategy of “Financial Literacy and Sustainability” for International Board of Trustee members). Past IBT meetings and full financial documents are available to any member on our Club YouTube channel, and our website.
  • Transparency: Our quarterly Membership Campfire Chats continue to be popular as a way to have informal Q&A with our Club leadership. Last month, we covered general information, Q&A on the upcoming constitutional vote to establish a volunteer “Finance Director” position, and an update and Q&A on our popular Caravans.

Current Club Strategic Priorities

  • Internal Communications
  • External Communications
  • Welcome and Retain Members
  • Infrastructure (buildings and software)
  • Training at all Levels
  • Financial Literacy and Sustainability for IBT Members

Upcoming International Rallies

  • As of mid-May, we have roughly 1,300 Airstreams registered for our Rally2024 in Sedalia, Missouri. We expect to sell out with just over 1,400 Airstreams.
  • Rally2025: York, PA (August 2025)
  • Rally2026: Minot, ND (August 2026)
  • Rally2027: Due to popular demand, “Back to Rock Springs,” WY (June 2027)
  • Rally2028: Tentatively east of the Mississippi

That’s it for now!

Looking forward to seeing you all down the road, and let me know if you have ideas for our Club.

  Eric McHenry

Eric McHenry

International President / BRN 153 // Amateur Radio callsign AA6EM

emchenry@airstreamclub.org

<h4><a href="https://blog.airstreamclub.org/author/ericmchenry/" target="_self">Eric McHenry</a></h4>

Eric McHenry

International President Eric McHenry (BRN #153) and wife LaVerne (BRN #253) are owners of a 30' FB Classic, "Kawika" and reside in Northern California wine country. Both are avid and long-term campers, from the early days of backpacking, tent camping, kayak camping, and now Airstreams.

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