Justin Anderson and Bethany Snow with recycled craft projects

UNION — In the spring of 1971, a group of local campers had an idea to create a camping club. Meetings were organized, and the first official group outing was held at Yogi Bear Campground on Memorial Day weekend 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 and Nancy Barrett; George and Ruth Grafton; Richard and Corrine Erving; Harlan and Kay Sylvester; Lloyd and Bev Soderberg; Robert and Emily Beattie; Robert and Harlen Jordan; Richard and Jean Overlock; Reynold and Janette Anderson; Gerald and Evelyn Anderson; and Ronald and Kathleen Anderson. This group established their charter, elected officers and met 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 ‘wagon master.’

“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 when they can.

In July 1992, some original members and their children decided to hold a WarTom Camping Club reunion. Over one hundred campers came to this event, held in the camping area at Union Fair grounds. 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 third-generation campers, they began once again.

Quinn Barrett and Dylan Anderson show off their piñata haul.

On the weekend of July 9, WarTom celebrated its 50th birthday at Union Fair camping area.

The birthday party themed campout began July 9 with Bingo games. 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, piñata breaking and simply reminiscing about the 50 years of memories. Saturday evening also held a Yankee swap birthday gift exchange, cake and 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.