In talking about the 2016 Gathering over the last few weeks, I thought it might be useful to actually write down the things I would have done differently. I think I am going to turn this into a series of Mock Gatherings, pointing out some of the benefits of holding Gatherings in various locations. Initially, I envisioned these being more detailed, but as I am doing them, I am realizing how difficult it is to list specifics without actually contacting places with dates and looking for quotes, so these will likely be more general “hey, this location is interesting, what are some options” type of posts.
Disclaimer: I have no idea what the prices are on anything at Stronghold, so perhaps this was done in the most economical way.
To begin, not Stronghold specific, but the Yearbook.
First, all the pictures are from LAST YEARS Gathering, which makes sense since they print it before the Gathering, but I think it would be much more significant if you simply said that a Yearbook would be mailed out to all attendee’s AFTER the Gathering. All the maps and schedules could be provided in a packet at the beginning, leaving more room for people to maybe post memories, post a list of who won certain awards, who was knighted, ecc.
Second…pictures. Myself and several people did not submit photos to be put next to our names in the yearbook. Some of us just did not want our picture included and assumed that would be the result when we did not submit them. Instead, whoever assembled the yearbook went through our facebook profiles and picked whatever pictures they wanted, and not even the most professional looking. The one chosen for me, for example, was from a photoshoot where I was dressed as Princess Leia…one of my least favorite of my costumes, and I make it a point to separate my costuming from being a Jedi. And it was not even a recent picture, they had to scroll back some to find it. It would have been easier for the person to shoot me a me, and the others, a quick PM, directly requesting a picture. Or even say, “hey, you did not submit a picture, so unless you want something different, I am going to use this one.”
The Carriage House was booked for our group, which holds 30 people. If there was an issue with space, we could have switched to the Barrick Lodge which holds 36, but there were no space issues. Based on the group photo, there were 26 of us, and some of those stayed off site. However, the organizers of the event stayed in the Bunker, a little 6-person cabin across the courtyard. Why are we having separate accommodations for organizers? This is supposed to be about unity and coming together as a group, not special treatment for a select few. Sure, they held the Knighthood trials over there, but they could have just as easily held them in one of the rooms of the Carriage House, or perhaps at the main building, or even outside. I wonder how much extra the rate was just to have this extra building.
Also, it was difficult to request roommates, and Opie and I had a little anxiety of who we would be rooming with, or even worse, that we would not be rooming together because the main organizer said “there will only be male/female rooms in special circumstances.” Honestly, I felt I was going on a high school field trip again.
Instead of having the extra Bunker, or use of the Pavilion for the party, house everyone in one building and have the party in the common room. With the money you would likely save on these two things, add some of the available Activities to the schedule, namely Archery, Canoeing, or use of the Obstacle Course. All wonderful activities that may not be available at other locations and it would have been good to make use of. Plus, it has the added bonus of getting everyone to leave the cabin instead of just sitting inside all day. Yes, there was swimming, that was a great start. There was also a Martial Arts workshop, though not everyone may have felt comfortable with that, and a fire building workshop…good starts.
Schedule one big activity per day, and by activity, I mean up and moving. You can throw hiking in there as well, as there are some great trails out there. Fit workshops in around those, and do not list them as “mandatory.” Again, we are not in high school here.
- One building for everyone
- Make roommate choice completely up to the attendees
- Make use of local activities – Archery, Canoeing, Obstacle Course, Hiking
- Yearbook mailed out AFTER the Gathering
- Don’t force anyone into something they do not want to do…including submitting photos