An Endless Source of Friendships

This article is part four in a series about Wally Byam's Creed.

Wally Byam was a proud man. In Airstream, he went beyond just creating a product: he created a lifestyle, connecting people to a life of travel adventure and new friendships.

He wrote down his Creed, which has been recorded and adopted by generation after generation of Airstreamers.

The part of his Creed I’ll talk about today follows: To encourage clubs and rallies that provide an endless source of friendships, travel fun and personal expressions.

First came the Airstream. Next, Wally Byam led his Caravans, far and wide. Then Airstream owners formed their own club, the Wally Byam Caravan Club.

Wally always knew his Airstream was the finest travel trailer made, making it possible for owners to travel to the far corners of the world and enjoy every mile of the journey.

To that goal, Wally conjured up migrations to Mexico, Central America, Canada, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and all the way around the world.

When approached by an Airstream owner in 1955 to form an Airstream owners club, Wally gave his blessing and support from Airstream. That year on the Eastern Canadian Caravan, owners formed the Wally Byam Caravan Club.

Wally understood that friendship and camaraderie were part of the larger Airstream story. He knew that, through the product he’d created, lifelong friendships would develop. Because he’d experienced it himself!

Since 1955, the WBCCI has held thousands of rallies, bringing friends together to visit local events and scenic areas. I think back to pot lucks, sharing recipes at dinnertime. I recall fun singing, dancing, and merriment with friends, old and new. I remember happy hours, discussing the fun things done during the day, and looking forward to a campfire for storytelling at night.

So much fun, laughter, and friendship, passed down from generation to generation since 1955.

In 1958, Wally and my mother, Helen Byam Schwamborn, proposed that the Club should hold an International Rally. Wally had attended several European international rallies and felt it was time for the WBCCI to have one of their own. Airstreamers traverse the United States and make friends with other Airstreamers, so the International Rally gives them the opportunity, at least once a year, to meet up with a seldom-seen friend from across the world.

For Airstreamers who have not yet joined the club, when you pull into your campsite you’re likely to have a fellow Airstreamer come over to help park or set up. Others wander over in curiosity, wanting to see the inside, or to just chat about their travels and swap stories.

I can attest to Wally’s words: you will experience endless friendships, travel fun, and personal expressions.

My wonderful life with Airstream is split into two periods: 1951-1979, and 2004-today.

Most, if not all, of my early Airstream friends have departed this world on their final Caravan. But today, thanks to my relationships with the Airstreamers of today, I have friends all over the world. It is wonderful to attend an event and see a friend I first met at the Airstream factory in Jackson Center, Ohio – then renew that friendship in Oregon, once again in Florida, then see them again at the factory.

I’m a hugger, and so are my friends. We greet one another with smiles, laughter, and a warm embrace.

During the year, I will dial a number and talk with my Airstream friends.

Airstream is so much more than aluminum and rivets. It is a conduit for enduring friendships, travel adventures, and the freedom to go wherever the road leads.

Dale “Pee Wee” Schwamborn has silver in his blood. Each week, Pee Wee shares one of his many stories, including his experiences on the iconic Airstream Caravans, his time spent working in the Airstream factory, and the many Airstreamers he’s befriended, far and wide.

Read more about Wally Byam's Creed:

Wally's Creed, Part I

Wally's Creed, Part II

Wally's Creed, Part III

You have just read Part IV.