Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Having a Get Together

Our next Winnebago Fuse Get Together is  April 27-29, 2018  in Nashville.  We are holding it at the Grand Ole RV Resort and Market.  Let us know if you are coming in the Facebook group.  (End of shameless plug even though it is free)

Ever since we announced the first Get Together  I have had people asking me about having Get Togethers in other places.   My response is pretty simple.  Go for it!

I really don't mean to be flippant, but it really goes to what a Get Together is.  All a Get Together is is two or more Fuse enthusiasts getting together and talking motorhomes.   It is just that simple.   

I have had several un-announced Get Togethers.   I don't feel bad stalking other Fuse owners, so if you see me coming up to your camp site don't be surprised.  Ask Norbert.   I saw he was at Ft. Wilderness the same time I was in Orlando (without the Fuse).  I trekked over on a combination of Boats and Buses and then walked the campground until I found him.    This was the First Get Together.

I have done several other small things I consider Get Togethers including eating lunch with folks when I take the Fuse out for exercise.  If you are close to Tallahassee on a weekend I will try and get up with you for a mini Get Together (though I do have some matters that take precedence,  permission from Sonya is required).

But then there is the request to do something along the lines of the big Spring and Fall Get Togethers Sonya has arranged over the last year (and the one coming up).    Anyone can put one of these on as well.   

We live in Florida.  Doing things on the East Coast is pretty easy for us.  Doing the Colorado Get Together was more of a challenge, but was worth it to meet some of our Western members.  Doing one really out west is something I want to do, but is hard while I am still working.  So I hope someone out in the Pacific Time Zone takes up the challenge.

First, a couple of things about putting on a Get Together.

There are a couple of rules that define a Get Together.  In the spirit of everyone getting together, there should not be a charge to attend.   It should be open to anyone who wants to talk about Fuses.   We even invite those who have not bought yet, but are still looking and deciding.  I figure once you are part of our Fuse community you will buy the motorhome just to be part of the family. We have had them on the weekends so people who work can attend.   Those are the only ground rules.

If you want to do something different, call it a Rally or Caravan or something else.  But still feel free to go for it.

Now for the lessons Sonya and I have learned:

The hardest part is finding a time and a place.   No matter what you decide,  someone is going to be disappointed and not be able to come.  With over 1000 members scattered from the East coast to the West coast and up in Canada there will never be a perfect time and place.   

We have chosen a general time first. A two or 3 week window.  We try to avoid the busy seasons.   This is hard since many campgrounds close on the off seasons.  But once you have picked a date or two you can start finding campgrounds.   As a matter of fact a one or two week difference in when you hold the event might make a $10.00 a night difference in the camping charge.

The next step is the campground.  This is actually harder than you think.  Where is a central location that people can meet up at? There are Fuses all over and picking a convienent location is really a hard task. Pick a general location and then draw a 100-200 mile circle around it.   Then start with the campground guides.

If you are setting up something small like 4-5 rigs, finding a campground is not a problem.  Finding a campground where you can get 20-30 Fuses is much more difficult.  Finding a campground with a covered area or even better an indoor meeting area is even harder to hold 50-60 people is tough.  Its even harder to find one that won't charge (or charge much) for the shelter.

But here is where being part of our large community helps.  Once you have narrowed it down to 3-4 places ask for some help in the group.  We have members all around and you can get some local Fuse owner to scout the campground to see if is nice and has the amenities we need.  Even if they are not coming, or spending the night at a prospective location, a little bit of scouting goes a long way.   The photos on the web site don't always match current reality.

We also look for a place where everyone makes their own reservations.  I don't want to collect any money or sign a contract, and remember this is an informal gathering.  I don't want to be on the hook if people have to cancel or show up late.  I also want to reinforce that concept that this is informal so my liability is minimized.

Now that we have a time and a place then there is the question on what to do.  The best piece of advice we received is not to plan it too tight.  Just let it happen with a few milestones to get it down the path.  Everyone is there to have a good time and everyone seems to pitch in. 

So with the advice of those in the group who were more experienced Sonya and I  have done the following schedule:
  • Friday Night we have a pot luck/get to know everyone -  As people rolling in Thursday and Friday everyone meets everyone anyhow, but this has been the first social event.
  • Saturday AM at the first one we did breakfast (and will be doing breakfast again in April). 
  • Saturday Morning we have a technical session -  We have had Winnebago and Ford talk.  We did Q&A at the second one (we have experienced folks in the group) when Winnebago had to cancel.
  • Saturday at Lunch we ate leftovers
  • Saturday Afternoon we toured everyone's coach and saw modifications and got tips
  • Saturday Night we did a pizza party (and ate leftovers,  there is lots of food).
  • We waved goodby on Sunday Morning though some stayed longer
Nothing says a Get Together has to follow this schedule.  It has worked well so far but it does not have to stay that way.   I have invited speakers from Winnebago.  If it went longer or I could not arrange that I would look for someone else to talk.  But just sitting around and doing a roundtable worked really well.  It just depends on what you want to do. 

I would love to hear from the SumoSprings folks, Atwood, Zamp, Progressive Dynamics, Onan and all of the other component manufacturers.  You might want to get a local dealer to give instructions on winterizing/maintenance/some other general RV topic.  It is just a question on what the group wants to hear about. Going back to the initial advice we got before the first Get Together, don't plan too much.   Maybe sometime we should do a Fuse Tech conference,  but that would not be a Get Together.

I have been lucky to be able to get Winnebago to send technical folks. Winnebago has been super supportive and that has worked out great for both us and Winnebago. The conversation has been bi-directional. We got real lucky and had Ford come as well to the first one.  Again super supportive and wonderful to get first hand information from them.

Now that there is a time and a place and an agenda -  publish the event in the Facebook group.  Post a message, create an event and go for it.  Remember that we have new members joining all of the time so re-post every so often.

Now you should start getting some folks saying that they are going.  Keep a list.  This is important to know how many folks are coming.  You need to talk every few weeks to see who has made reservations.  You will have some folks who are in one list but not the other.  Don't get concerned some people will make their arrangements late.  Some people will have to cancel.  After a little bit you will get an idea of how many are coming.

You will also need to get on a first name basis with the camp ground manager.  Check with him every few weeks up to the event. He can tell you how many reservations he has gotten.   The manager can also help you with local logistics and tell you where the best pizza is (we try for local).  If you have a large group they have helped us with other local issues and questions.   20 camp sights off season is blessing for all.

For the first Get Together I was over prepared.  The second one I was under prepared.   The best advise is not to worry.  It won't be perfect and everyone won't be happy, but don't sweat it.  Everyone who is coming is family.

Now it is family reunion time.   Just sit back and enjoy.

Here are a couple of other things I will share from our checklist.   (Like we are experts after doing two of these):

  • Bring copies of the agenda
  • Bring copies of the attendee list
  • Remember to take the group photo
  • You do need to do a little coordinating of the pot luck.  Most people say what they are bringing but people will ask.  If you know you are short in some area let people know.
  • When people ask what to bring - ask someone to bring water.  Beer seems to show up without prodding.
  • Bring some extra serving spoons/forks/etc.   
  • Someone needs to bring paper goods.
Our Fuse family is always helpful and friendly, everyone always pitches in with set-up and clean-up, so enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Don It was great meeting you at Fort Wilderness that day.