Come Around “How To” (20190824)

Posted: 8/24/2019

USNA RV CHAPTER

HOW TO PUT ON A “COMEAROUND”

Come Arounds are the Heart and Soul of the RV Chapter.  Any member is welcomed and encouraged to volunteer to put on a Come Around and become a “Firstie”.

These guidelines are developed to help put on a Come Around.  Ideally the first work will be about a year in advance.  It could be done with 3-4 months notice, although that will compress the work you must do into a shorter timeframe, and may limit attendance due to people having scheduling conflicts.  Giving 9-12 months notice should increase attendance as it allows people to get things onto their travel calendar sooner.

Starting the thought process

The first decision is where.  Choose a place that you have been to before or holds an interest.  This could be a park, a city, or a nearby attraction type of place.  Unless you are extremely familiar with the location, choose one reasonable near you as you will probably have to visit it once or twice to complete preparations.

Once you have a tentative general location we would recommend choosing the RV park or campground as the next activity   Somewhere that can accommodate 15-25 RV’s is best.  It is highly preferred to have the RV’ sites arranged together.

General campground desirable attributes:

  • Water and electric hookups. (Sewers are a plus but required)
  • Big Rig sites. We have 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.
  • Easy reservation system.
  • Allow pets.
  • If a military facility is chosen it must be willing to accept non-military personnel/retirees, as many of our membership did not retire from the military.

Then look at the RV chapter website for forthcoming events and choose a date.  Traditionally Key West is in February, and Watts Bar is in October.  Those events have been the backbone for many 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.

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.   Once approval is obtained you are good to move forward.

Getting the first info out about the event

Once you have the event approved, get something to both the RV Chapter facebook page as well as to the webmaster for the RV Alumni Chapter website.  A full plan is not needed at that time, just the dates/location/and tentative highlights, along with instructions on how to contact you to confirm tentative attendance.    The Shipmate responsible person, currently Nita Perry, will also probably contact you with deadlines for articles to the Shipmate so that you can get information into that for your event.

Planning the event

This is when you are doing more detailed planning 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.  We have a wide variety of attendees of various ages and interests.  People can either attend or not attend individual events, based upon their specific likes and dislikes.

The following activities should be considered for inclusion in the Come Around.

  • Social (Happy) Hour each day.
  • Pot Luck Dinner(s)
  • Dinner Out.
  • Breakfast or Coffee and sweets of some kind.
  • Camp Fire.
  • Camp Fire activities: marshmallows; Sing Along; Joke time.
  • Tours, excursions or trips to areas of interest.
  • Biking and Hiking.

The first POD

This is usually sent via email to each person who has responded as attending or interested.

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”:, make sure you get 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, list of other attendees, and information on anything you need volunteer assistance for.  Also there will be questions you may need participants to answer, such as are you interested in a particular tour or dinner.

Firming up the POD

This is where you flesh out the POD with more detailed times on events as well as any pertinent comments on specific events, and are gathering 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 count of diners.  Deciding how to handle the dinner costs is often an issue.  It is suggested to have the restaurant bill each couple separately.  This might not always work, but it makes it the simplest for the Firstie.  Some restaurants 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.  You might also get a restaurant to process a deposit on a credit card and return that deposit when the group fulfills the dinner commitment.

Publish a revised/updated POD

This 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 a firm handle of counts for events and dinners.

Make a deposit at a restaurant if needed.

Including the dinner menu with the final POD is also suggested.

Since plans should be firm by now, it is suggested to re-contact all places you will attend, such as a tour or restaurant one week before the event – they tend to forget and do not plan extra people, etc.

Get to event a day or two early to make sure campground is ready and any set up is done.

Make sure the campground is ready for the group. Set up banners, and tables as needed.

The actual Come Around

The first event is usually a welcome/happy hour.  The first dinner and departing breakfast have traditionally been handed by the Firsties.

At the Welcome go over,

  • Introductions; new attendees, who they are/how far they traveled etc.
  • Check on Nametags. Tell everyone to wear them to every event as practical.
  • Hand out a final POD. Roughly go over events for week.
  • Specifically go over anything needing attention by attendees such as dinner selections and/or tour specifics?
  • Go over the Come Around fee, roughly what that is paying for, and collect from attendees who have not already paid.
  • Either get a volunteer or have a person previously designated to take pictures of the event activities.
  • Answer questions.
  • Conclude by going over specific things for 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.

While we have not used TEXT’s in the past, I suggest having a good phone number for each attendee in case sudden changes are needed – use that to TEXT a message.  Such as if it is raining it would be useful to send a quick text 30 minutes early saying the bike ride is on a 45 minute delay/hold.  Otherwise you may end up trying to knock on each RV door.

There is usually 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.

Somewhere in the schedule there will be a Chapter Board meeting, followed by a General meeting, and a “White Elephant” auction of items brought be attendees (coordinate with RV chapter president.)  The general meeting will be handled by the President  If there is to be an Auction prearrange for a person as the auctioneer.  Auction proceeds go to Chapter.

On last evening have a sort of closing thank you for helpers/attendees.

Conclude with 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.

Take down all banners, and disassemble rented loaned items.  Ensure things are OK with the campground before your departure.

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

After the Come Around

An AFTER ACTION (to be send to the President) report should be compiled for both the RV Chapter Web page, and parts of that may be extracted for the Shipmate if appropriate.  Information about the event should also be posted on the RV Chapter Facebook page.

Finances;

There is a Firstie stipend to help defray the Firsties cost of putting on the Come Around.

This would include things like traveling to make arrangements, and other miscellaneous fees which occur in the preparation and execution of the Come Around.

There is also the actual Come Around fee.  This should include things to be shared by the attendees – cups/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.

Additional Items

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 encouraged.  We are also finding some chapter member 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 that.  We have usually tried to accommodate all these requests.

Contacting the local USNA Alumni Chapter may also bring additional interest.  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 have been in relation to the events attended.  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.

There are Firsties that have conducted prior events that are more than willing to provide assistance.  Contact the Chapter President for individual names.  There are also previous POD’s available as examples for additional guidance.

We always look forward to every event, and hope this helps you as you plan.


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