Come Around “How To” (20210301)
USNA RV CHAPTER
HOW TO PUT ON A “COME AROUND”
The Planning Process
Phase I – The Concept
Phase II – Planning
Phase III – Communicating the Plan
Phase IV – The Schedule
The Actual Come Around
After the Come Around
Come Arounds are the Heart and Soul of the RV Chapter, and absolutely necessary to the RV Chapter. Any member is welcome and encouraged to volunteer to become a “Firstie” and put on a Come Around. In most cases, the Come Around Firstie is really a couple referred to as the Firsties. A single person can be the Firstie but a Come Around’s success ends up best when it is a participant effort.
These guidelines were developed to help you organize and host a Come Around. This is not the only resource for planning a Come Around. There are Firsties who have conducted prior events that are more than willing to provide assistance, and serve as a mentor. There are members who participate in multiple rally organizations and provide their experiences. The chapter website contains After Action reports which provide examples and names of prior Firsties, rv.usnachapters.net. Contact the chapter board members for other references and advice. There are previous Come Around plans available as examples for additional guidance and activity ideas. On the chapter website, the After Action Reports are excellent resources as well.
Ideally the first work will be at least a year in advance. It could be done with 4-6 months notice, although that will compress the work you must do into a shorter time frame, and may limit attendance due to people having scheduling conflicts. Giving 9-12 months notice should increase attendance as it allows people to get our events onto their travel calendar sooner.
An official chapter Come Around meets the criteria:
Receives advanced conceptual and calendar approval by the board of directors
Is posted on the chapter’s website calendar of events and on the chapter’s social media
Creates a “Whenever two or three shall meet” experience
There is no minimum or maximum attendance or duration of a Come Around.
the planning Process
Phase I – The Concept (6 to 12 months prior to Come Around)
The first decision is location. Choose a place that you have been to before or has a unique interest. This could be a park, a city, or a nearby attraction. Unless you are extremely familiar with the location, it is suggested to choose one reasonably near you, as you will probably have to visit it once or twice to complete preparation details and ensure all will go smoothly. Once you have a general location choosing the RV park or campground is the next priority. Somewhere that can accommodate 15-25 RV’s is best.
One never knows if the event will strike a cord. It is highly preferred to have the RV sites arranged together for a rally feeling or USNA neighborhood.
General campground desirable attributes:
Water and electric hookups. Sewers are a plus but not required.
Big Rig sites. The chapter includes a number of 40+ foot units.
A building for inclement weather especially in early spring, late fall or winter.
This may be as simple as a covered shelter or in some cases a large tent.
Sites close to each other and know how flexible the site allocation will be for additional RVs.
Easy reservation system.
Allows pets. This must be specifically confirmed with the campground.
If a military facility is chosen, Security must be willing to accept non-military personnel as many of our membership did not serve in or retire from the military.
WIFI is desirable, but not always possible.
Cell Phone coverage is highly desirable. If no cell coverage please notify attendees in advance.
Review the RV chapter website for forthcoming events before selecting dates. Traditionally Key West is the first full week of February, and Watts Bar is in the Fall. Those two events have been the backbone for 20 years and also prove that good locations and good Firsties can make a lasting event. Don’t worry if you find someone has previously done a Come Around nearby. Just go for it and make it your style. Initially, don’t worry if find that there is a conflict or overlapping dates with an already approved Come Around it will provide members choices.
Contact the board through the RV Chapter website and let them know you would like to have an event at a location on a planned date. Board members may be aware of potential conflicts with other events.
Once the board coordination is done, have the information posted to the RV Chapter Facebook page events calendar, and send information to the webmaster for the RV Alumni Chapter website as soon as possible. A full plan is not needed at this time, just the dates, location, and tentative highlights along with instructions on how to contact you to confirm tentative attendance. Facebook and the chapter website are your best marketing tools. Shipmate articles have 2-3 month advance deadlines which preclude this being a timely way to communicate events. Keep in mind, the chapter has enjoyed increased membership thus it is highly likely to have new members at a Come Around who need extra supporting information. You will receive 50-80% of your attendee list from this posting.
Phase II – Planning (5 to 9 months prior to Come Around)
This is the more detailed phase where planning occurs on the things you think appropriate for your Come Around. The Chapter is open to a wide variety of events – like dinners, museums, local sights and attractions, hikes, bike rides, and much more. Please use your imagination here, and the assets of your chosen location. We have a wide variety of attendees of various ages, abilities and interests. People can either attend or not attend individual events, based upon their specific likes, dislikes and calendars.
The following activities have been included in Come Arounds. The final list of activities is at the Firstie’s discretion.
Social (Happy) Hour each afternoon.
Pot Luck Meal(s)
Meals at a local favorite site.
Breakfast or Coffee and sweets at the start or end of the Come Around.
Camp Fire, if appropriate. with activities such as S’mores, Sing Along, or Joke time.
Games (examples; Corn hole, Golf, Pictionary)
Tours, excursions or trips to areas of interest.
Biking, hiking, or boating, etc.
Phase III – Communicating the Plan (4 to 6 months prior to Come Around; 50-80% of attendees known)
The communication of the plan is usually sent via email to each person who has responded as attending or interested to obtain feedback and not to all chapter members at this point as this is the core of attendees.
This should include:
Campground Name and phone number for reservations. Other reservation info if needed such as, “say you are a member of USNA group” to make sure you get the special rate, or ask for someone in particular when making a reservation. Included will be; dates for Check-in and Check-out; a rough outline of activities and potential venues, list of other attendees, and information on anything you need volunteer assistance to help execute.. The order and details are not specific but listed to obtain interest and comment. There may also questions you need participants to answer, such as “Are you interested in a particular tour or dinner?”
Phase IV – The Schedule (2 to 3 months prior to Come Around; 90% known)
This is where you flesh out the plan with more detailed times on events, as well as any pertinent comments on specific events, and gather information on who plans to attend what activities. It is best to have personally driven to each activity and know a route, rough time it takes to get there, and where best to park. You should be visiting each restaurant and learning what is needed to host the group. By now you should be able to provide the restaurant with a good estimate of diners. Deciding how to handle the dinner costs is often an issue. It is suggested to have the restaurant bill each couple separately at dinner. This might not always work, but it makes it the simplest for the Firstie. Some restaurants may require a deposit and some may not. If possible handle this from the Firstie stipend, or if time permits you may contact the Chapter to fund deposits. (More information on the stipend is in this document under Finances) You might also get a restaurant to process a deposit on a credit card, and return that deposit to the card when the group fulfills the dinner commitment.
Publish the reservation information again and results of the above details on the chapter website and Facebook page for communication. The timing of this posting should be prior to any constraints on reservations which the campground has imposed. This should happen before attendees begin travel to the Come Around. You may want a chapter-wide email to go out if you haven’t received the response you expected. This will be the final call for attendees. Consider if there is a cap on attendance and communicate the method you will handle excess interest, e.g. alternative nearby campgrounds for overflow or wait list.
Each subsequent issuance of a plan should contain a date/revision number and be sent to registered attendees.
A ‘final draft’ Plan should happen 2-4 weeks out and should be a pretty comprehensive list of events by time and date, assistance planned or needed, and the complete list of attendees. You should have email confirmation from each attendee now and firm counts for events and meals.
Make a deposit at a restaurant if needed. Including the dinner menu with the final Plan is also suggested.
Since plans should be firm by now, it is suggested to re-contact all activity venues, such as a tour or restaurant one week before the event – they tend to forget and do not plan extra staff, etc.
The Actual Come Around
Arrive at the Come Around venue a day or two early to make sure campground is ready for the group, and any set up is done. Set up banners, and tables as needed.
While the chapter has not used TEXT’s much in the past, you should have a good cell phone number for each attendee including spouse’s cell in case sudden changes are needed – use that to TEXT a message. Example: 30 minutes before an event, “it is raining the bike ride is on a 45 minute delay/hold”. Otherwise you may end up trying to knock on each RV door.
The first event is usually a welcome/happy hour. The first dinner and departing breakfast have traditionally been handled by the Firstie, but you certainly may handle as you see fit.
At the Welcome go over,
a. Introductions; new attendees, who they are/how far they traveled etc.
b. Check on Nametags. Tell everyone to wear them to every event as practical.
c. Distribute a final Plan. Go over event details for Come Around.
d. Specifically go over anything needing attention by attendees such as dinner selections and/or tour specifics and local tourist information when available.
d Go over the Come Around fee and what expenses that is covering. Collect from attendees who have not already paid.
e. Either get a volunteer or have a person previously designated to take pictures of the event activities.\and plan for how these will receive distribution and publication.
f. Answer questions.
g. Acknowledge a chapter officer or board member for comments, e.g. review Come Around Courtesy for new and experienced attendees.
h. Conclude by going over specific things for the day and the next day. Anything requiring
travel should have either a map or address suitable for a GPS. Some may want to
carpool / travel together – establish a meeting/departure place for the week.
There is often a Happy Hour each day except when there is a restaurant dinner planned. Once all attendees are at the evening event go over the next days events.
Announce any needed changes as the week progresses. Posting updated Daily Activity in a central location is very helpful.
Somewhere in the schedule there will be a Chapter Board meeting, a General membership meeting, and often a “White Elephant” auction of items brought be attendees. Coordinate with RV chapter president or vice president for these meetings. The general meeting will be handled by the President or Vice President. If there is to be an Auction, prearrange for a person as the auctioneer. Auction proceeds go to the Treasurer to fund Chapter expenses. Sometime during the event take a group picture, preferably with the RV Chapter banner or a venue specific background in the picture. This picture is included in the Shipmate report.
On the last evening event, have a sort of closing thank you for helpers/attendees. Consider a way to say good bye such as an early departure Firstie breakfast on last day. This has been held about 7-8 AM to let people get underway early, and often as simple as donuts, juice and coffee.
Make plans for any RV Chapter equipment, (banners etc.), as well as excess materials; such as plates, utensils, cups, to be gathered and forwarded to the next Come Around (if possible) by an attendee of the current Come Around planning to attend the next Come Around. Take down all banners, and disassemble rented or loaned items. Ensure things are OK with the campground before your departure.
After the Come Around
An AFTER ACTION REPORT, to be sent to the President usually within the next week, should be compiled for the RV Chapter Web page, and parts of that may be extracted for the Shipmate as appropriate. Information about the event should also be posted on the RV Chapter Facebook page, though attendees might be doing this themselves as the event is progressing. The After Action report should include confirming back to the board the financial outcome of the Come Around. Thank you letters to activity venues and campground by the Firstie and Chapter leadership is a sound investment in a return visit. Your mother will be proud.
There is a Come Around fee assessed to attendees by the Firstie. This would include costs for rentals, equipment, or any group events that are paid for ahead of time, not those paid by each person attending an activity. This should include things to be used by the attendees – guest cups/serving utensils/sodas/chips etc if you provide at happy hour or at a pot luck dinner. At some Come Arounds this has included, food for the group breakfast or fixings for Margarita night, tour(s), Firstie dinner, and Firstie breakfast.
The Goal is that the Come Around is self supporting and no financial burden to either the Chapter or the Firstie. There is a Firstie stipend, currently $300.00, which helps defray the Firstie’s cost of planning the Come Around and any remainder may be used to offset the Come Around fees. The objective of the Firstie stipend is to ensure that there is no financial burden to the Firstie for conducting the Come Around. This would include things like traveling to make arrangements, and other miscellaneous costs which occur in the preparation and execution of the Come Around. The actual use of the “Firstie” stipend is at the discretion of the “Firstie”.
Come Around Courtesy:
Attendees should consider themselves participants and not just attendees. The Firsties have given of themselves to plan the Come Around so all should voluntarily offer to assist with set up, clean up and take down at activities.
If you have room in your RV, offer to carry food or materials to or from the Come Around.
Attendees should offer as they can to carpool.
Attendees, as they are able, should offer to non-campers or guests beverages and the use of plates, utensils.
At pot luck meals and appetizers, attendees should set out their contribution and at the conclusion remove dishes, utensils and generally help clean up. If you should need to depart early, please ensure someone will take care of your contribution.
Attendees should watch out for others safety, health and well being.
Attendees with pets should be sensitive of others by cleaning up after pets and avoid bringing pets into areas when food is being prepared, served and removed.
Attendees should be considerate with their surroundings for noise, e.g. outdoor audio, generators, etc.
Come Arounds may seem like mini-reunions but are also opportunities to meet and engage with others.
Plan to participate in activities that you enjoy and support the activities which are planned. If you choose to not participate in a planned activity, advise the Firsties in advance.
If you have guests during the Come Around, advise the Firsties in advance and introduce them to the gathered appropriately.
When an event is scheduled there may be USNA graduates who live in the area who may be interested in attending the event. This has always been very much encouraged. We also have some chapter members who no longer RV but who may want to try to attend either by staying at a nearby hotel or renting a cabin if the campground has such facilities. We try to accommodate all these requests.
Contacting the Alumni Assocation’s Regional Trustee who represents the region of the Come Around, and the local USNA Alumni Chapter may also bring additional interest. Additional contacts including: local Blue and Gold regional director or individual Blue and Gold Officers; the local USNA Parents’ Club would enhance the chapter’s support of USNA and USNAAA efforts. The chapter president may want to do this as well. This may be in the form of local alumni attending the event, or at a selected evening where local alumni are encouraged to attend a happy hour or pot luck dinner. Charges for attendance have been in relation to the activity attended where entrance fees or tickets pertain. This should be done early enough in the process to both allow the local chapter time to get the word out, and to allow you time to plan for additional attendees.
The Board is experimenting with the use of PAYPAL or similar electronic means to facilitate an initial payment for Come Around attendance. This is designed to ensure a commitment is made to attending the event, and to help cover costs associated with attendee cancellations. Contact the board for the current status of electronic payment use.
We always look forward to every event, and hope this helps you as you plan. If you have read this far and still have questions, PLEASE, reach out to us and ask.
Board of Directors of the USNA RV Chapter
« 2020 Mt Dora Come Around (20190824)