gathering sizes? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-30-2012, 12:44 PM   #1
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gathering sizes?

i know some annual gatherings get pretty big as they become a tradition, so i sort of wonder.....
we here in the great lake state,,,,michigan,,,otherwise known as gods back yard, are organising a gathering for next week, and much to my surprise we have 23 eggs with reservations for algonac state campgrounds on the st clair river. we even have some from ohio,canada, and i think someone from florida was even going to make an attempt.

so, looking forward to perhaps next year,,, or even making this an annual event, is there a point where we really need to communicate with the park well in advance what our intentions are? i'm thinking if we get much bigger,,,and i sure hope we do,,, they may be willing to put us all together more easily if we reserve as a cluster?
anyone with any experiance at this that would like to advise us, it would be appreciated.
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Old 08-30-2012, 03:42 PM   #2
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John I think you are going to find that state/provincial parks that have reservation systems are not going to be able to help you cluster your group. You could if you want to live dangerously;-) book a loop all in your name and pay the reservation fees etc and then transfer the sites over to others names as they register for the meet - but that IMHO is very risky and a *lot more work* for you as an organizer and I am not sure what the cost of doing the changes to reservation once made. Personally would not recommend this. It was tried by one of the previous organizers of our BC meets and it did not work out well at all. You will find yourself holding the bill for no shows.

IMHO as someone who has organized a number of large meets the fact you have no control over who gets what site is not a bad thing - in fact its a real good thing!!!! You do not want to get involved in anything that has to do in anyway with moving or picking sites for people! One day if we ever meet you can buy me a beer for sharing that little bit of advise ;-))) It’s a situation anyone of sound mind will learn all to quickly is a no win! People when they book a site often book a particular site for a reason. It may be a good location for their children or their dogs or their friends are beside them or there is shade or it means that they know old grumpy so and so is always in such and such a spot & and dont want to be anywhere near them – reasons for wanting & having to have a particular site are endless. Should you move them to keep the group together they may not be very happy no matter how well meaning your intentions were or how hard you tried to find them a spot beside their friends or their dogs will like. Also once people know you have the power to move someone you can expect your email box to fill with messages asking that you dump so and so out of such and such spot and give it to them instead! Seriously! And the ones that really want a spot will look your home phone number up in the phone book and call you at home to beg! Yup its all true. As I said JUST DO NOT GO THERE!

The only way I have figured out to keep the group together without fail is to rent a whole private campground - which is what our group is currently doing. BUT BE WARNED that opens up the door to another rather more serious issue - LIABILITY. You will need/required to buy special meet liability insurance (yup they have such a thing) if you hold a meet at a private camp ground where you’re the one the management has entered into the agreement with. In fact the camp ground may well want a copy of it. That applies on both sides of the border. It is a big personal risk if you don’t buy the special meet liability insurance & some campgrounds will not even let you rent it unless you have the insurance. You would be amazed at what can and will go wrong at any given meet & you may find yourself dragged into it simple because you where the one who organized the meet. DONT ASK how I know that but is all to true!

If I had a really nice State Park to use I would keep it simple and let each person make their own reservations - just keep reminding people to do it - just as it is done at the big meets in Washington and Oregon. Sadly my BC group is spoiled and they want power sites something we don’t have at many Provincial parks & the ones that do have power are very limited in number. I am keeping my eyes very open on that situation as the day that a Provincial Park within 200 miles of Vancouver has enough power will be the day our meet location changes :-)))) Doesn’t matter to me if its North, South or East but that’s where we are heading!! ROFL
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Old 08-30-2012, 06:34 PM   #3
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We went to a rally in May at Spring Mill state park in Indiana. All participants except for a couple were in one loop. I didn't notice any interlopers among us. Have no idea how that came about. Don't know if that loop was reserved somehow. Maybe there was no reservation except by the individuals for their sites. Maybe this came about because the rally has been held there for several years and maybe just because it was May and not so many people out. Anyway, it was fun and we had probably 2-3 dozen people tour our Egg Camper since it was the only one there. Looking forward to next weekend.
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Old 08-30-2012, 07:08 PM   #4
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I was just camping at Groveland Oaks in Holly, Mi. They have areas that are designated as 'group camping' areas. But I think that you have to pre-pay for one night of each site you are reserving. I'm sure that a lot of private campgrounds would probably love to have a bunch of unique little campers in their group sites! They might just hold them for a nominal fee.
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Old 08-30-2012, 08:34 PM   #5
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We do a gathering every June in a New York State park. The couple that organize it pick a site as the center. Sites can be reserved 9 months in advance, so everyone that wants to be with the group make their own reservations at that time. Some know what site they want, some are first timers and just pick one, some like to be on the outskirts of the group. The organizing couple get permission to do a one day group thing, usually consisting of a snack/wine & cheese, steal-a-gift game, photo taking, and ending before quiet time. The other days are do what you want, visit, kayak, bike, go touring, whatever. Usually some group gets too loud, too late, gets scolded by the ranger, and makes the organizing couple look bad even though they weren't involved with the loud group. It's almost gotten too big, we liked it better when there were only 20 or so campers. I'm expecting the whole thing to end.
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Old 08-30-2012, 10:39 PM   #6
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John get to know the head of the park (superintendant?). Let him know you are a group and suggest you are looking at doing the same thing there next year. They will watch to see what kind of group you are. Check out to see if they have a group site. Some don't mind boon docking others want to be connected to the grid. Get a feel from the group what they like.

Although I am not part of organizing bolerama here in Ontario, I'll give my experiences from the past.

When they held bolerama at a provincial park with the online reservation system. If you were boondocking with the group, you simply let the organizers know. Upon arrival you paid for however many days your vehicle was going to be in the park at the gate, then paid the organizer a small sum to park in the field. If you wanted a regular site, it was first come first serve with the online reservation system. People would book as soon as they could and post their site. Some would book 2 or 3 sites if they wanted to be next to each other.

This was the second year at a conservation area with an online reservation system.
There was a large area for the group boondockers. The park superintendant blocked off a group of reserved sites on the reservation system as being "unavailable" due to service or construction or ???. If you wanted a reserved site in regular area you called the park directly telling them you wanted a reserved site with the group. They took your info and kept it all in a file, including credit cards. They told you what sites were available in the blocked off area, you could then quickly call back (after looking at the map and site details to pick 2 sites) and tell them your choices. They told you a site # and marked it on your file. Upon arrival you simply told them you were with the group, reserved site # and your name. You paid your camping fees directly to the park and later a separate small sum to the organizers for the group dinner and expenses. The park gave a discount to members of the group in reserved sites.

The Niagara wine fest is at a private campground. They block off an area of reserved sites for the group, everyone calls the park directly saying they are with the group and picks their site. The overflow goes into whatever sites are left. Each year it keeps getting bigger, so I'm not sure if they are blocking off a bigger area or if every one is booking sooner to be near the blocked off area.

You will typically find the park will throw in or give a good discount on the group covered picnic area to have your dinner in (nice if it rains or not). You will find that a group is pretty conscious of wanting to leave a good impression and will try to respect other campers and keep things cleaned.
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Old 08-31-2012, 01:00 AM   #7
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John I think the way you did this worked out GREAT! Picking a good date, a convenient location. Reserving a "central" spot and getting the word out.

Only things I can think of to do improve the next one is brainstorm ideas at this one for next years, maybe get a feel for activities, "best" date suggestions and the like for next year, or locations. Knowing you can't please everyone just collect thoughts and suggestions that can be used in making decisions unless there is a consensus that emerges.

Get contact info from folks interested in helping out with next year. One thing I learned as a Scout leader was most folks are more than willing to pitch in. Some people like to organize, plan or come up with ideas, others are more than happy to cover something specific if asked. A request for games comes from a planner type on the forum and individuals start posting I'll bring... so it seems like it works the same here.

Judging from the turnout of this one there may be a future need for shared costs, such as the park pavillion for the group dinner or an extra site (or two) by the central site so we have a place to gather enough tables and chairs to all be in one place.

There was discussion and agreement on pitching in on the meat in the thread, not everyone may have read that part who signed up, but with a goat/turkey poll at the top most will probably read until they find out what that is about. You might need to be a little more formal as it grows. Plan some things, estimate costs, inform people in advance of the contributions needed.

I think you deserve mucho kudos for making this happen.
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Old 08-31-2012, 07:00 AM   #8
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well, yes there no way i would concider paying up front and hoping we got our money back. clearly the best thing is to have people make their reservations way early so we get our pick.
i have some connections with the dnr park system so will be researching that end.
i think , depending on where the group wants to camp the group areas would be ideal if they have power , water would be good too. just pretty sure most want power for these sorts of gatherings just because it free's up time on a one or two night camp out.
good sugjestions and ideas,,,will log these and others into my memory banks and hope i can recover the data when i need it,,,lol
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Old 08-31-2012, 01:34 PM   #9
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John I think its always a good idea to talk to the park staff as to what your options may or may not be in regards to blocking off sections in the reservation system for your group. They may as some suggest be able to cut you a deal in regards to using group shelters for your pot lucks and workshops etc. as well but I suspect you are going to find that since most of the State/Provincial and National parks have switched to having their reservation systems handled by a private contractor they really dont have much say in who gets what sites or what you will pay to use facilities. Anything they may do to interfere with the first come first serve reservation systems or prices may jeopardize their employment. That's not to say you will not find some brave sole willing to do it but if they do I would try and make sure it didnt become public knowledge that they have in order to protect them, hard to do with a large group.

I am also very aware that a some of the big meets held at state parks others outside our group do ask the park staff about how it is all those little fiberglass trailers managed to get so many spots. So park staff may be very reluctant to put themselves into a situation they cant easily say it had nothing to do with them.

As someone else mentioned there is also a big down side to the park staff knowing that you are the party that called the meeting to order should people in the group not follow the rules. Our group used a public park many times that the location was perfect for and the staff tried their best to help with keeping the group together and they gave us a reduced camping fee. All good stuff but the one down side was that in exchange for that they felt that as the party who organized the meet you needed to hear about and take ownership of every thing that the group did in regards to not following rules. As the number of people attending the meets grew the more time spent getting an earful from park staff... not a great way to spend your week-end :-( Out last meet at that park with about 65 trailers attending resulted in over a dozen visits to my site by park staff in 2 days. I should mentioned that the things the staff were not happy with were relatively minor infractions - items such as a vehicle parked in a camping spot that did not have a corresponding campsite sticker (belonged at another site), people walking from campsite to campsite with a beer in their hand or campfires burning after a certain hour. As you know as the meet organizer you really dont have a great deal of control over peoples actions - some park staff will and do view it very differently. The more favors you ask of them the more they may expect in return from you as the organizer.

Not meaning to scare you away from organizing a meet! They are fun to do! Just hoping to help you avoid some of the pitfalls of being the organizer that some of us have learned the hard way. Way better to go home after a meet happy and full of fun memories like most who attend the meet will!
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Old 08-31-2012, 03:56 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by john warren View Post
well, yes there no way i would concider paying up front and hoping we got our money back. clearly the best thing is to have people make their reservations way early so we get our pick.
i have some connections with the dnr park system so will be researching that end.
i think , depending on where the group wants to camp the group areas would be ideal if they have power , water would be good too. just pretty sure most want power for these sorts of gatherings just because it free's up time on a one or two night camp out.
good sugjestions and ideas,,,will log these and others into my memory banks and hope i can recover the data when i need it,,,lol
If you consider it making the reservation for a weekend is a financial committment, then making what I expect is a much smaller financial committment for the shared cost at the same time should not be a problem for most people.

Agree electric is goood thing, especially in fall, us 13 footers often keep the chill off with one of those electric cube heaters. And your right it does ease the workload when camping.

Ahhh yes the old memory banks, I myself figure I'm doing good if I "recall" to bring the bug spray.
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Old 09-02-2012, 12:14 AM   #11
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I've organized several and have simply picked a site then posted the suggested nearby site numbers. Also letting people know that they should make reservation as soon as the system opens that way they beat the rush of other campers. You can always cancel a reservation so making it months in advance isn't any problem. So what if you lose a buck or two in the reservation fee. It isn't anymore expensive than a cup of Joe or two.

If it's a private campground they'll generally work it out with you to block out the sites you might need.

There is no way I'd ever get involved in paying up front to hold sites. We are big people we should be able to handle our own reservations. Those that snooze lose.

"Stay away from Holiday weekends" that way you don't have to worry so much about other campers taking sites you might want for your group.

Oh, and several of my gatherings were 1,500 to 2,000 miles from my home. They turned out great with my simple attitude about gatherings. "Pick a campground, pick a date, pick a site"..... send the word out they will come and they will have fun. Keep it simple.
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