In the spring of 1971, a group of local campers had an idea, a camping club. Meetings were organized and the first official group outing was held at Yogi Bear Campground on Memorial Day weekend of that same year.
WarTom Camping Club, named due to most of the membership residing in either Warren or Thomaston, spent many years enjoying camping trips around the state and beyond. Charter members included Ed & Nancy Barrett, George & Ruth Grafton, Richard & Corrine Erving, Harlan & Kay Sylvester, Lloyd & Bev Soderberg, Robert & Emily Beattie, Robert & Harlen Jordan, Richard & Jean Overlock, Reynold & Janette Anderson, Gerald & Evelyn Anderson, and Ronald & Kathleen Anderson. This group established their charter, elected officers, and meet on a regular basis.
The first WarTom Camping Club President was Bob Beattie. Other original officers included Harlan Sylvester as Secretary and Ed Barrett as “Wagonmaster.” Squaws Along the Yukon, a 1958 song written by Cam Smith and sung by Hank Thompson was selected as the group’s theme song and is sung at every meeting…or at least an attempt is made.
In July, 1992, some of these original members and their children decided to hold a WarTom Camping Club reunion. 120 campers came to this event held in the camping area at Union Fairgrounds. This began an annual reunion of the club that continued until 2005. Then, the yearly reunions took a hiatus until 2015 when, with the help of 3rd generation campers, they began once again.
On the weekend of July 9, 10, and 11, 2021, WarTom celebrated its 50th birthday at Union Fair camping area. The birthday party themed campout began on Friday with Bingo games. The heavy rain brought people together in one of the fair buildings and the evening ended with a beautiful rainbow arching majestically over Union. On Saturday, the group participated in a memorial walk, cornhole, a tech savvy scavenger hunt, recycled crafts, pinata breaking, and simply reminiscing about the 50 years of memories.
Saturday evening was truly a party with a Yankee swap birthday gift exchange, cake, and a campfire. The theme song was performed live by Ronald Anderson while the group joined in the chorus. Before packing up, a Sunday morning pancake breakfast made the weekend complete.