Rally Host - South East Bus Nuts

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Congratulations! You’re at least thinking about hosting a rally for our  club. It can be a fair amount of work, but it is a great deal of fun, and  gratifying too.

A rally can be as simple or complex as you wish.

At the simple and easy end is something called a “No Host” rally,  where all you have to do is get an interesting place, hopefully with  some nearby attractions, and let folks go their merry way. Maybe  throw some nibbles in a bowl at 5:00 p.m. and invite all attendees to  join the Circle of Friendship with their camp chair and favorite  beverage.

Of course most rallies are more involved than that, with printed  schedules, meals, side trips, and entertainment, and these usually  involve additional people to help you put ‘em on.

As you read through this guide, you can decide where in the  spectrum your rally will fall.

The good news – club officers and leadership will make this much  easier for you than in the past. We will do the promotion (with your  input of course), collect registrations and fees, and, if you wish,  create the roster of attendees that you can hand out to arriving  guests. If you need money for a campground deposit or  entertainment, the club treasurer will work with you to get people paid  promptly, or quickly reimbursed. No bookkeeping or recordkeeping!

The really important first task is to identify some dates and get an  interesting place.

Getting help - the committee
 One universal truth I’ve found is that people will rarely turn you down  when asked to take a small part of a rally. This could be running a  meal, signing in and parking attendees, running a game or activity.  They’re usually so relieved that they haven’t been asked to run the  whole thing that they’ll readily agree to do a small portion of the work.

I have found this especially true when looking for strong backs and  willing hands on the spur of the moment at a rally – helping set up  tables and chairs, break down same, sweeping out the hall, peeling  potatoes, etc. - there is usually plenty of help available on site – just  ask!

One thing for sure, don't try to do this all by yourself. Recruit at least  a few people you know, and who usually patronize the rally you are  running.

Selecting a location
One reason we chose to own or convert a bus is because we like the  RVing lifestyle, and that usually means we like to travel, and most of  us like to go to new and different places. It’s easy to fall into the trap  of running a certain rally at the same timeworn place, but I encourage  you to think of somewhere in our region that might be interesting, and  where we haven’t visited – either ever or for a while.   We’ve had small to medium-sized rallies at member’s ranches and  farms, and rallies of all sizes at fairgrounds, company parking lots,  and of course regular campgrounds. The ones at a member’s  property are usually dry camping with generators, and they have  been as much fun as any.

One “must” in my opinion is to have a shelter with water and electric,  so we can gather in case of bad weather. Most campgrounds will  offer the use of their activity building if we bring enough members out.

Interesting attractions that are located nearby really add to the appeal  of any rally. In the past five years’ rallies we have taken a side trip to  the Okefenokee Refuge, toured a BMW assembly plant, toured a  winery, went to a small engine show and tractor pull, toured a  NASCAR track, took a lunch trip on a paddlewheel boat, browsed  quaint antique shops, etc. Some things are free, some have a modest  charge.

These kinds of activities can be important to our wives/girlfriends who  don’t want to just sit around and talk shop, but would prefer to get out  and see new and different things.

Setting the rally fee
Decide if camping fees are to be built into your Rally Fee. Many  rallies have folks register for the rally separately from reserving a  campsite at a campground if that’s where you are heading. When  people reserve and pay for camping separately it keeps the apparent  rally fee reasonable.

Depending on the location of your proposed rally, you might be faced  with rental of certain items, including a tent, cooking grills, chafing  dishes, etc. Build those rental charges into the overall fee.

Next is to calculate the cost of meals you might offer.

In general, when offering a continental breakfast of coffee, juice and  roll, I figure $1.00 per person per day.

Full Pot Luck Dinners (‘Bring a casserole or dish to pass’) are very  inexpensive and usually the only cost is for incidentals such as paper  plates, napkins, plastic cutlery, condiments, etc. In fact many rallies  these days ask people to bring their own dishes and utensils. You  decide. I figure about $.50 per person per Pot Luck.*

Partial Pot Luck where the rally provides the meat and attendees  bring sides and dessert can be found for about $4.00 - $6.00 per  person. There may be a local BBQ house that will sell us only the  pork. Even KFC can sell you the chicken without the sides.

Fully catered meals can usually be had from $8.00 to $10.00 p.p.

We’ve had meals fully prepared by club members, including omelet  breakfasts, pancake breakfasts, spaghetti dinners, BBQ ribs, steer  roasts, and so forth. The breakfast activities can usually be brought in  for about $2.00-$3.00 per person. The dinner ones usually run about  5.00 p/p, especially if members are to bring a side dish or dessert.

A dine-out (night out at a nearby restaurant) is usually Dutch Treat,  completely optional, and not calculated into the fee, but you may  decide to cover it and add to the fee structure. Your choice. These  are best if the restaurant has a private room.

Entertainment can range from free (Karaoke, story telling, audience  participation TV type games, listening and dancing to recorded music,  etc.) up to $500 for outside, professional entertainment at our larger  rallies. Look at past attendance figures to gauge whether there may  be sufficient attendance to support the more expensive forms of  entertainment. Cheap and enjoyable sources of entertainment are  local singing groups, community theatre groups, volunteer and school  bands and orchestras, etc. These groups might be willing to perform  for free – they often crave live audiences.

Door prizes – about $100 total. We’ve found it best to have fewer  ‘quality’ gifts rather than two dozen cans of WD-40. Gift cards to  popular restaurants or stores are always appreciated and about $25  each seems the going value.

Overhead and contingencies – about $5.00 per person. This includes  printing, promotion, mailings, signage, hand-out materials and goodybags, and miscellaneous out-of-pocket.

Using these rough figures you can see that depending on your  degree of sophistication the rally can cost as little as $10-15 per  coach all the way up to $100 per coach (two people), exclusive of  camping. We don’t have much experience with exceeding that top  figure, but rising sentiment in the club points to perhaps more catered  meals, which could drive up the fee.

*Here’s another tip regarding Pot Lucks – ask a third of the members  to bring a salad, a third to bring a side dish, and the last third to bring  a dessert. Break up the alphabet to facilitate this, e.g. “Last names  beginning A through G, please bring a salad…” etc.

Typical rally schedule
 Our rallies generally run Thursday ‘till noon Sunday. Sometimes there  will be an ‘early-bird’ function on Wednesday afternoon/evening.

We usually offer Continental Breakfast Friday, Saturday and Sunday  (rolls, juice and coffee). The club has coffeemakers if your rally facility  has none.

Lunches are usually on-your-own.

Thursday dinner can either be a Dine Out or a Pot Luck.

Friday dinner is usually a Pot Luck. Side trips and excursions are  popular on Fridays, and sometimes Saturday afternoons.

Please allow time after breakfast on Saturday for a club membership  meeting. The Chapter president will organize this, and it usually lasts  1 to1-1/2 hours. As rally chair you will be asked to report on the  number of coaches present (and expected) and remind folks of plans  for the rest of the rally. This is a great time to vocally thank the  volunteers who are assisting you!

Saturday afternoons are popular for informal tech-talk sessions for  the men (Howard Best loves doing these!), and in another location,  crafts/homemaking/travel discussion sessions for the ladies.

Saturday dinner is usually a catered meal. And of there is to be one  big night of entertainment, it is often Saturday night after dinner.  

We like to get the first announcement out to the membership about  60 days in advance. The Chapter will do this for you. This allows  people enough time to think it over and send in the registration form  and check. New to this process is registering through the chapter’s  website (www.southeastbusnuts.org) using PayPal. About 60% of  recent rally registrants used this method. At any rate, you won’t have  to do any bookkeeping.

The promotion announcement will be done primarily through the  internet. Only a few members are still not on-line. This first  announcement will include a reg form, which will bounce back to the  treasurer with the fee. The treasurer will be in regular touch with you  regarding the growing attendance totals.

Depending on the rally, and if sufficient advance time permits, we  may list it in FMCA’s magazine. Technically our rallies are open to all  FMCA members, regardless of owning a bus conversion. We will also  list it on the Bus Conversions Bulletin Board:  (http://www.busconversions.com/bbs/index.php or https://www.busconversionmagazine.com/ )

We will generally send out a reminder announcement 3-4 weeks out,  again primarily through the internet.

A couple of weeks before your event, the chapter will also send out  confirmations to all registrants. This mailing often lists who’s coming,  any changes to the schedule, driving instructions and GPS  coordinates, how to pay for camping if applicable, etc.

On-Site arrangements
The Chapter has some road signs and destination signs that will ID  our rally as a function of the Southeast Bus Nuts. A well identified  rally site can attract new members as long as passers-by know who  is putting it on.  

You’ll want someone (perhaps yourself) to sign-in people as they  arrive. Don’t be surprised if some show up without advance  registration. Many members are retirees and some have stopped  paying attention to deadlines, etc. We generally take all comers, but if  your catering guarantees could be exceeded, don’t hesitate to tell late  arrivals that they’ll have to go through food lines last, and there’s no  guarantee that there will be food left. (Usually caterers bring more  than the guarantee, but one of these days some of these latecomers  will be disappointed.)

Often the rally host will put together a ‘goody-bag’ for coaches as  they arrive. In addition to the latest schedule and roster of attendees,  these bags often contain brochures for nearby attractions, some  penny candy, product samples from nearby businesses and  attractions, etc. Not necessary, but a nice thing to do.

You’ll want some help putting things back to normal at the rally site  (stacking chairs, cleaning the kitchen, sweeping the floor, etc.). Once  again, it is our experience that there is never a shortage of willing  people to lend a hand with these on-the-spot duties. Just ask!

Don’t hesitate to drop a note of thanks to those volunteers who  helped you shoulder the load. It’s always appreciated.

If you feel up to it, write up a brief recap of the rally for the club  newsletter and website. If not, we’ll do it for you!

Thanks for volunteering
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