How to organize an event open to SHG members
It’s easy! Organizing or hosting an activity is a great way to let children share an interest or passion with a group of friends. It’s also a great way of getting to know people. The event organizer gets to choose whether an event is open to just SHG members, or includes others as well.
Here are a few tips on organizing a field trip from those who have done a few:
• When you first contact a place you are interested in, find out as much relevant information as possible. Remember to ask about the maximum and minimum number per group, suitable age range and whether younger siblings are welcome, cost per person (for parents and children), expected length of visit, what people need to bring (e.g. lunch, rain gear), whether activities are hands-on, etc.
• Gauge interest to see if other people would be interested in the field trip. You could do this through the Yahoo group or just by asking any SHG families you know.
• Consider checking the SHG calendar if you don't want it to conflict with an existing event, though this is not required. Do what works for you.
• Advertise your field trip by writing up a blurb to post on the Yahoo group and publish in the newsletter.
• Include any information which might help people decide if they want to participate: duration of time kids may need to sit still or listen quietly, potential scare or excitement factors that may be challenging for more sensitive children, a website where people can find more details, etc.
• Provide your e-mail address or telephone number so people can ask questions before signing up.
• In the case of a paid event, collect money beforehand and tell people whether you need payment in cash or check, to whom checks should be written, and by what date payment must be received. If you try to collect money on the day of the event, you may personally end up having to cover the cost of people who don’t show up.
• Give people deadlines—a date by which to express an interest, and, in the case of paid events, a date by which to pay and a date after which refunds will not be available.
• Keep lists! Track people who have paid and have a secured place on the tour and people who have expressed an interest but not yet paid, and keep a waiting list of people you can contact if others drop out or don’t pay in time.
• Post a reminder. People have busy lives and tend to forget what they have signed up for, so it’s always a good idea to put out a reminder e-mail a few days before your event. Repeat the date, time, location, directions, meeting place, and any other relevant information.
• Post a meeting time that allows time for latecomers. No matter how much you beg people to be on time, there are ALWAYS latecomers.
• Decide on a specific meeting place—“in the lobby next to the cloakroom” rather than a vague “in front of the museum” (which entrance?)—so that even people who have never met you before will be able to find you. Or say you’ll be wearing a silly hat and then remember to put it on!
• Don’t stress out too much and enjoy the field trip!
If the idea of organizing a field trip is too daunting, try hosting an activity or open house in your home. You could limit it to a certain number of families if you feel space is an issue. How about hosting a fairy picnic or messy play day in the backyard, shooting a video, or conducting a science experiment? When you organize an event, it’s up to you to organize it however you want. If your child has allergies, for example, specify it as an allergen-free event (SHGers have had cooking days that were dairy/gluten/nut/egg free). Just pick a date and time that suits you, check with the schedule coordinator to make sure it doesn’t clash with another event, and advertise it through the newsletter or Yahoo group.
If your child has a hobby or interest he or she would like to share with friends on a regular basis, you can always start a club. Ask around, post on the Yahoo group to see if there’s interest, and then just do it! It can be as simple as, “My kids enjoy building sand castles, so we’re going to meet every Wednesday afternoon at 2 p.m. by the stream at Golden Gardens,” or, “My child is a budding chef and would like to prepare and eat a meal with friends every Friday afternoon.” You don’t have to host a club in your home; Seattle and King County library meeting rooms can be reserved free of charge.
If you have an idea for something bigger and want to rent a space or hire entertainers for a celebration or potluck, then check with the treasurer (see the volunteer section in the newsletter) what SHG funds can cover. Big parties are a great way to bring everyone in the SHG community together. These events can be a lot of work, so it’s nice to organize one with the help of a friend or two.