Our unit has 8-9 rallies each year, camping April through November and luncheons in February and December. Each rally requires at least two people to host (individuals, couples, or combinations of). It helps if experienced members work alongside newer members. Hosting should be fun, not hard, as it is not intended to be a work burden. It is more of a basic planning and organizing task.
The purpose of this guide is to provide some help to hosts. It is a guide and starting point, so will not cover every eventuality. It is also not meant to stifle your imagination and creativity! Typically hosting means overseeing booking of the sites or location, and organizing meals and activities for the rally.
2-3 Months ahead – call or visit the location/campground. We need camping space for approximately 20 units, a place to meet and eat under cover, and if possible we prefer to park near each other. Along with organizing the sites reservations, ask about a pavilion or room and reserve it if possible.
Because fewer campgrounds accept group reservations these days, it has become necessary for the hosts to call the campground to determine if members will need to make their own reservations and how they will pay. The hosts need to make sure campground staff are aware that although our members will be making individual reservations they are doing it as part of the Piedmont Airstream Group and we would like to camp near each other.
Notify members by email to call and book a site (if needed). If members call on their own it helps if you have an agreed phrase for members to use when calling the location – e.g., I am John Smith of the Piedmont Unit of the Airstream Club and I am calling to make a reservation for X through Y dates. This helps the campground staff, and reminds them we are part of a group, especially because we are trying to park together.
Some members like to arrive early or stay late – you don’t have to manage this but it is good to know whether it is feasible. They should make their own arrangements.
A simple theme for the rally may have been set as the schedule was created in the prior year – if there is not one it is up to the host to decide. Research and call to find things to do in the surrounding area. When you call an attraction, ask if they will do a special tour or activity or provide a docent because we are a group.
Good sources for local tours include Microsoft Streets and Trips (no longer supported but some members have old copies), the annual North Carolina travel guide available from the state, and numerous websites. Many in the unit like to see things being built, so factory tours are a favorite. But we have also been to various museums for exhibits from Porshe to Miro to tobacco farming.
Some activities require a reservation/payment. This can be managed separately (by collecting money from members ahead of time if pre-ordering tickets is required) or as part of the rally expenses (if no prepayment is required). Some locations ask for a donation in lieu of an admission fee. It is okay to make a reasonable contribution on behalf of the unit; you will be reimbursed (see expenses below). Feel free to consult with the unit President or Treasurer regarding contributions.
We usually have group meals for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings and Sunday breakfast. They are typically a combination of meals provided by the hosts, catered, pot-luck, or going to a local restaurant as a group. Typically the hosts provide the Thursday night welcome dinner. It is usually a simple meal at the campground, hot dogs or sausages with chips and salad and a dessert is fine. It is up to the hosts to decide what to do. Many people in the group have portable grills and can bring them to share if requested.
Depending on the locations of the planned activities and the schedule, the Friday and Saturday group meals are usually at a restaurant or pot-luck at the shelter at the campground. The host is responsible for finding a restaurant that can handle the size of the group and making a reservation. People pay for their own meal when we go to a restaurant as a group..
For Sunday morning we usually have a continental breakfast provided by the hosts, with coffee. Determine who has the unit coffee pot, which also has a box for coffee and ingredients (sweetener, creamer) and some cups and napkins. It is best to set this up Saturday night if possible because it takes almost an hour to brew (a light timer is with the pot).
Once you have contacted the campground, researched activities, and planned meals you are ready to develop the rally agenda. Most rallies begin with arrival and set up on Thursday afternoon and end after breakfast on Sunday. Ask the President of the unit if he or she desires a short business meeting at some point during the rally – if so, work together to determine the best time. We usually have a happy hour for socializing before the evening meals and often we can have the business meeting near that time.
Free time is welcome, and especially so if you can provide ideas of things to see and do in the surrounding area. The rally does not have to be over-programmed. It should be a balance of planned group activities and free time.
Be sure to include key information about the rally, e.g., if we are dry camping, remind everyone so they are prepared. Also, we can have a fire in the evenings – coordinate with the fire master to determine what needs to be brought (specifically – wood and if needed the unit fire pit).
Once written, send the rally agenda to the corresponding secretary for publication in the unit newsletter in the month prior to the rally. Be sure to remind everyone that you need to know if they are coming, when they are coming, and when they plan to leave. You need this information to plan meals and activities. Also, a couple of weeks before the rally, email the agenda to those who have indicated they will attend. It is helpful if the agenda includes addresses and directions. Also, if there are any parking requirements they should be included (e.g., we have camped at fairgrounds and needed to park close together and bring extension cords and extra hose). Feel free to find a volunteer to help with parking if needed.
The unit has and automated external defibrillator (AED) that we bring to our rallies. Obtain it from the host of the prior rally so you can bring it to the rally you are hosting and pass it on to the next host.
Keep receipts for expenses (food purchases, pavilion fees, etc.). As soon as possible during the rally, provide the receipts to the Treasurer, who will reimburse the hosts and also divide the cost among the rally participants to determine the rally fee.
Post Rally Report
A report on the rally written by the hosts should be provided to the corresponding secretary (for publication in the unit newsletter) and to the person maintaining the unit directory (it goes into the unit history). It should include the location, our activities, and attendees. Examples are available in the unit newsletter and in the unit directory, history section.
We communicate information in the unit via email. As hosts you will be doing this several times, including giving members instructions on making campground reservations, obtaining an attendance count for meal planning, and answering the inevitable questions. Cutting and pasting the email addresses from the newsletters sent by the corresponding secretary is the best way to have a current distribution list.
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Our unit depends on volunteers. Hosting a rally is a great way to volunteer and is important to the continued success of our unit. Many members have hosted multiple times and are great sources of information and inspiration if you need help. Hosting a rally really makes you feel a part of the club, is easy, and fun! The vice president of the unit is responsible for finding hosts for the rallies – contact him or her to volunteer.