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Filed under: Preparation & Readiness, Traveling Tips

So You’re the Group Leader?

April 18, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

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By Karen Brucoli Anesi

Do you like herding cats? Making camping arrangements for a group without first getting consensus or at least a flexible game plan will make herding cats feel like sand box play.

Whether you are a wagon master making reservations for thirty friends or a grandma making arrangements for three families, the challenges are familiar and often similar. The bottom line is you are responsible for keeping everyone happy. That starts with making the campground experience satisfying for all, never mind the differences in individual wants, needs and expectations.

Here are seven tips for making your job easier.

1. Know the physical and social needs of your group. That’s a tall order, but if you have a group member who needs 50 amp service for a 34 foot motor home, don’t expect that camper to be happy in a campground that offers only 30 amp service in 30 foot long sites. Likewise, families who camp with pets expect their pets to be accommodated.

2. Know the campground where you intend to camp. The best way to know the campground is to pay a camping visit in which you use all of the amenities of the facility. When that’s not possible, a day visit in which the leader checks out the facility is a decent substitute.

3. Share the campground’s website address, brochures, policies and rules in advance. The more information campers have in advance—the more secure they’ll feel that you’ve made a good choice for them.

4. Be clear on financial obligations and cancellation policies. Some campgrounds require a group deposit. Others have cancellation policies that could cost campers if they make changes to their reservation. Save time and embarrassment by letting your group know when and how discounts are applied. A quick way to burn bridges for future reservations is to have an individual member of your group insist on special pricing or discounting that may not have been agreed upon for the group.

5. Have a spread sheet or draft summary of camper names and phone numbers at the time the group reservation is made. Yes, this list is going to change.  But having the details at your finger tip helps you identify issues in advance. Perhaps two campers need to be placed in adjacent sites. That’s information the reservation clerk needs early on, before sites are assigned.

6. Name a back-up in the event you cannot be a spokesperson for the group. Share the information with an assistant so that if you are not available by telephone, a responsible person can make decisions or relay information to group members.

7. Contact group members by phone, newsletter or email to resolve questions or concerns prior to check-in. No one likes unpleasant surprises. Driving directions, possible additional costs and especially changes from initial arrangements should be communicated by the group leader to assure a uniform message. When all members of the group are on the same page, it’s a lot easier to herd the cats!

A big thank you to all wagon masters, group leaders, grandmas and “outdoor recreation” coordinators. Many of us would not take the time to smell the roses were it not for you herding us round the campfire.

About the Author:

Karen Brucoli Anesi, along with her husband, Frank, own Lock 30 Woodlands, Ohio’s only Best Park in America and the highest-rated campground in the tri state area of Ohio, PA and W. VA. She is a member of the Board of Regents and an instructor for The National School of RV Parks and Campground Management. Karen has a home in Durango, Colorado, where she’s a contributor, former columnist and special assignment reporter for the Durango Herald.

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