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Weekend Work Parties: The Unseen Difference

From EAA Volunteer Newsletter, November Issue

By Alan White, EAA Lifetime 60137, Volunteer Advisory Committee

  • Chapter 272 during a 2003 Weekend Work Party

I joined EAA and Duluth/Superior Chapter 272 in 1970. I remember being asked during one of the first chapter meetings that I attended if I would be interested in riding along to Oshkosh that May to participate in "The Work Party." Having grown up on a farm in southern Wisconsin, I was aware of the work part but I could not remember any partying associated with it. I figured that this must be some of the "education component" of the EAA mission and agreed to participate.

On Friday evening of the weekend before Labor Day, eight or nine chapter members piled into charter member Lawence Bessers' VW bus and hit the road from Duluth, destination Wittman Field. The nearly eight-hour drive provided an opportunity to get to know the other members (several of whom were charter members of the chapter) and to learn something of the history of EAA.

Upon arrival, we pulled out our sleeping bags and made ourselves comfortable on the living room floor of the farmhouse that stood where the PHP Center is now. We awoke at about 5:00 AM to the sound of a chainsaw being started in the dining room! I thought "is this the party"? No, it was my introduction to the fellowship and camaraderie of the EAA volunteer workforce. Over the next day and a half we used the tools, equipment, and fuel we had brought along to begin clearing the unbelievably thick underbrush from the woodlot we now know as Paul’s Park in Camp Scholler. It was hard work, but yes, it was a party!

That weekend included time with our founder, Paul Poberezny, dinner at the home of aviation legend Steve Wittman, plus a tour of Steve’s hangar and whatever project he was working on at the time. It also made a lasting connection with numerous other EAA members who had also made the trek in the "Off Season" – some like myself, for what proved to be the first of many times. I remember fondly the time spent helping to make our facility what it is today. Each year I now return for our traditional weekend. I find more to be done, new things to learn, and l always look forward to reconnecting with the countless friends I have met and worked beside over the past 40+ years.

For members who are looking for a way to become a valued EAA volunteer, but have limited time during Convention, weekend work parties are a great and fulfilling way to become more connected with our organization. You’ll meet many of the staff members who are in Oshkosh throughout the year, and create traditions that will build strength within your chapter. The Chapter 272 weekends I attend give me a sense of pride in the work we do. The projects we complete give a feeling of "ownership" as I point to a new building, a repaired roof or a neatly mowed grassy area, and say "I DID that!"

Gone are the days of sleeping on a carpeted floor or an exhibit hangar concrete floor.

Now we have a comfortable Volunteer Bunkhouse (built by volunteers) with heat and air conditioning, meals on Saturday and Sunday prepared and served by volunteers, and normally a Saturday evening program put on by EAA headquarters that is always educational and enjoyable.

One last request is that you contact EAA headquarters to schedule and coordinate so that projects can be planned, and accommodations confirmed.

See you at AirVenture Oshkosh 2015, and perhaps at a work party in preparation for the show!   

Save the date for 2015 Weekend Work Parties:

  • May 2-3
  • May 16-17
  • May 30-31
  • June 6-7
  • June 27-28
  • July 11-12
  • July 18-19

If you are interested in learning more about Weekend Work Parties, please email Katie Meyer at kmeyer@eaa.org.

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