Welcome to the wonderful world of Tin Can Tourists - a club founded over a hundred years ago for folks with trailers who could travel together and make long lasting friendships with like minded people.
Tin Can Tourists were kind enough to grant us an interview about their incredible group (find them via all their social media links below).
FTC: Can you tell us a little more about Tin Can Tourists?
TCT: “The Tin Can Tourists is the oldest camping club in the world. Started in 1919 and then brought back to life in 1998 as an all make and model vintage trailer camping club. We help people restore and learn about their vintage trailers. We host rallies across the country, so owners can enjoy camping in their trailers and meeting up with friends or making new ones.
“My wife, Michelle, and I are the latest ‘Royal Can Openers’ of the group and we have regional and state reps that support our membership. We have 2000+ official TCT members who are the most passionate, talented and creative trailer owners out there.”
FTC: How exactly was the TCT founded (it must be an incredible tale!)
TCT: “We were extremely fortunate to find a diary from a family that attended a campout when the decision to form the club was made. The reason behind starting the club was dual purpose. The first reason was to educate people who just started traveling the country in their Ford Model T's on how to behave when camping so that communities and cities would appreciate and welcome these campers.
“The idea of camping was new to both the campers and the places they were visiting. The second purpose was to create an organization that could work with communities for the benefit of the campers. They wanted to secure clean and safe campgrounds for their members and to also make sure they built solid relationships with these communities.
“They had a lot of vision to see the need and to understand that this camping trend was going to grow quickly and guidance and leadership could be valuable for both the campers and communities.
“The club was named after the car that started Americans’ traveling, the Model T, also known as the Tin Lizzy. It is also a reference to the only way to safely store food on long vacation trips from the north to the south that would take weeks of travel. Food was commonly transported in tin cans.”
FTC: What’s the most unique RV that you've seen at one of the rallies?
TCT: “That is like asking me to pick my favorite child! In 20 plus years of rallies with the club, I've seen spectacular rigs and combos. Ken Hindley's 1938 Curtiss Aerocar pulled by a custom 1936 International is a crowd favorite.
“Usually parked the next site over is Hardy and Terry Evans’ custom built Wayless is pretty special. Always love seeing Dan Hershberger's 1927 Auto Kamp popup tent and his extensive collection of period camping equipment. I could go on and on.”
FTC: Which RV do you get most of at the Rallies (and has that changed much over the years?)
TCT: “Our group is a very diverse bunch seeing that we are an all make and model club, so this is a really difficult question to answer. I'm going to answer it differently than you expect.
“What has changed in the last few years is not the type of RV but the type of owner. We've seen a huge increase in single women camping. The idea of vintage trailers held appeal to both men and women. Both could find elements that might appeal to them, whether it is the restoration of the trailer, decorating in period styles and equipment or pairing with a vintage tow vehicle. There are elements that are attractive to both men and women. But recently, women are driving the growth of the hobby. They are searching for fun and adventure while being able to do that in style with a vintage trailer that can be small and manageable.”
FTC: What do you think is so alluring about trailers, and what keeps people coming back?
TCT: “I might surprise you on this one too. It's really not the trailers. The trailers are the initial attraction and gets people into the hobby but what keeps people coming back is the friendships and relationships that are made. I've heard our spring rallies described as ‘the first day of school for old folks’. You get to meetup with old friends and make new ones that can last a lifetime.”
FTC: Is there anything special coming up?
TCT: “This entire year is special since nearly everything was cancelled due to the pandemic. Everyone was camping last year but not in large groups. We are easing back into the idea of camping together and gradually adding back traditional rally components as restrictions are being lifted and people are getting comfortable with group activities.”
My wife and I (on the outside) with my parents Forrest and Jeri Bone (in the middle) that restarted the club in 1998. The picture was taken during the clubs centennial celebration in 2019 and at my parents' retirement.
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If you are interested in learning more about the Tin Can Tourists group, you can reach out to them and/or follow them on one or all of their social media links below!
Facebook: Tin Can Tourists | Facebook
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