PURPOSE: As the title states, what follows are strictly general guidelines. They are not hard and fast rules or regulations. The various elements of these guidelines can be modified, added to or deleted in order to accommodate the needs of the size, scope, location or type of rally being held. These guidelines are provided to help the Wagonmaster organize and conduct an excellent rally by identifying potential problem areas and incorporating the recommendations of many who have acted as Wagonmasters in the past. Additional help is available from RVF Directors.
Of all the ways members participate in the RV Fellowship, becoming a Wagonmaster is the single most important contribution they can make. Membership involvement leads to membership retention and new members. It is important to always keep in mind that Rallies are the "vehicle" by which Fellowship occurs among Rotary RVers.
LOCATION. Before announcing a rally, the Wagonmaster should poll as many RVF members as possible to ascertain the feasibility of his* proposed rally site and whether such a selection is likely to appeal to members. When he has determined that it is worthwhile to proceed, he will organize, prepare and direct the rally. Locations selected may vary from dry camps to those with full hookups. However, all notices about the rally, including the Registration Form, should clearly indicate the type of hookups available. It is important that the rally location, be it a private RV park, a state or city park, or any place where RV's can rally, have a meeting place for the group. A pavilion or meeting tent would be optimum, although in good weather an outdoor location will suffice. When possible, locations should be selected throughout the zone, so that driving distances for the membership are equalized. Some zones like to utilize a Site Selection Data Sheet, a sample of which is attached hereto.
LEADERSHIP. The Wagonmaster is encouraged to recruit one or more assistants. Hopefully, those persons will consider serving as Wagonmasters at future rallies. While the organization and direction of the rally are the responsibility of the Wagonmaster, he is urged to choose other attendees to share some of the responsibilities for various functions, such as pot-luck meals, hors d'oeuvres for social hours, fire tending, directing arriving participants to their assigned sites and car-pooling to local points of interest. The Wagonmaster should also recruit a participant to prepare a write-up about the rally at its conclusion and forward it to the Editor of the Caravanner and the Webmaster of the fellowship's web site. If he desires, the Wagonmaster may prepare this report himself.
DURATION OF THE RALLY. The length of the rally may vary from three to five days and the days of the week selected are at the discretion of the Wagonmaster. It may also be feasible, from time to time, to deviate from the traditional weekend rally. Participants who wish to arrive early or to remain after the rally should make their own such arrangements directly with the management of the site location.
REGISTRATION. The Wagonmaster will prepare and forward to the Editor of the Caravanner (firstname.lastname@example.org) and to the Webmaster of the fellowship's web site (email@example.com), registration data conforming to the format contained in that periodical. It is not necessary to create a "form" since the information is fed into standard format by the Editor and the Webmaster. Since the Caravanner is published quarterly, nine months lead time is preferred and six months lead time is required. Registrations information should be provided to the Webmaster using the same lead times. The Annual Rally is an exception to this format, as it usually contains much more data. Costs of the rally should be clearly indicated. Cut-off dates for registration should be set and adhered to in order that activities and events may be planned efficiently. If the rally site cannot accommodate everyone and if becomes necessary to limit the number of participants at a rally, the confirmation letter (or E-mail) sent by the Wagonmaster to each participant upon receipt of each registration, should also contain a receipt number. It should be made clear that this receipt number is issued on a "First come, First served" basis. The confirmation letter (or E-mail) should also include directions to the rally site.
In addition to the registration data sent to the Caravanner and the Webmaster, the Wagonmaster should prepare and forward by email one or more narrative articles about the rally for publication in the Caravanner newsletter and on the web site. The webmaster can establish links to activities that have websites or to the Chamber of Commerce or the Visitors Bureau if such exist.
LOCATION AND SPOTTING OF RIGS. The rig sites selected within the facility should provide the opportunity for all participants to be together. The Wagonmaster should be thoroughly familiar with the park. He or an assistant may personally assign rigs to sites according to rig size, type, use of awning, slide-outs and hookups. However, the park management is often better positioned to assign the sites. A critical requirement is that all rigs should be in close proximity to the meeting area selected by the Wagonmaster. It is often helpful to place directional RVF signs at strategic external locations to help guide participants to the rally site.
MEALS. While the Wagonmaster may vary the number and nature of group meals, the following are suggested minimums: (1) The arrival night dinner should be catered or prepared by the Wagonmaster, with the costs factored into the rally costs. Most participants are delighted not to have to prepare a meal on the day they arrive! (2)There should be a group meal on the last rally night. It may be catered, at a restaurant, potluck or prepared by the Wagonmaster. (3) Social hours should be planned for each evening (if possible, around a campfire), to include hors d'oeuvres.
Assigning responsibility for hors d'oeuvres to different participants in turn, has proved to be a popular solution. If a potluck meal is planned, the Wagonmaster should designate the type of food each rig is to be responsivle for, i.e. salad, covered dish, dessert, etc. Participants normally bring the beverage of their choice. (4) It is normal for the Wagonmaster to arrange for a continental type breakfast each morning. A breakaway breakfast is important and some commercial parks may prepare one as a part of the registration fee or for an additional fee.
ACTIVITIES. The rallies are to be "semi-structured." That is, while the Wagonmaster should arrange some group activities, there should be ample "open" time, so that participants may pursue activities of particular interest to them. When a park or camping location is selected, consideration should be given to local tourist attractions. A "packet" should be prepared by the Wagonmaster for all participants. It should contain pamphlets or flyers about the local sights and attractions, a copy of the schedule for the rally, an RVF membership application (to encourage the recruitment of new members) and a list of the participants, including their home addresses. This packet should be delivered to participants upon their arrival at the rally location. When possible, the Wagonmaster may plan a tour, boat ride, golf outing or some other special event.
If there is a Rotary club in the vicinity of the rally, arrangements should be made for participants to attend a club meeting and "make up." In many cases the Wagonmaster or attending RVF officers may be the program for that meeting, affording an opportunity to recruit other Rotarian RV owners to the Fellowship.
Volunteer or inexpensive entertainment may be provided at some evening events. Representatives from local Rotary clubs, universities or governments are likely speakers around the campfire or other social gathering. Local Rotarians can also recommend entertainers or speakers.
Experience has shown that outdoor happy hours are more enjoyable, weather permitting, since everyone is in one group and conversation flows amongst all, not just those at a table if held indoors.
Business meetings, if needed, should be short. They may be chaired by an RVF officer in attendance or by the Wagonmaster. On the last rally night a brief report of upcoming rallies may be made. At the breakaway breakfast, brief announcements and comments will suffice.
FINANCES: The Wagonmaster is responsible for the financing of the rally. While he may receive a cash advance from his zone or the Fellowship Treasurer, experience has shown that funds needed prior to the rally can normally be taken from the rally fees sent by participants with their registration form. Some Wagonmasters may wish to charge a $10-15 non-refundable amount in conjunction with their camping and events fees. All events within the rally must be self-supporting. Those who wish to participate in optional events that require additional money must pay these costs at the time of registration, unless the registration form indicates otherwise. Losses will not be underwritten by the Fellowship. Depending upon commitments that have been made, refunds can be full or partial.
GUESTS. Members are encouraged to invite Rotarian guests. This is one way to build our membership. Non-Rotarian guests are welcome on a select basis. The Wagonmaster must be notified in advance about such guests so that he may advise the participant if space is available and if the scheduled events make the invitation practical.
*the masculine pronoun is used throughout these guidelines, but the Wagonmaster may be of either gender.