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Janet H 08-07-2006 12:29 AM

I have planned rallies and had crashers and can sympathize. A catered event is a different kind of critter. Caterers charge by the plate and bring a fixed number of servings - crashing is not cool. Sort of like helping yourself to the gas nozzle after the guy in front of you has finished but before they paid....

We had a fall rally last year and 20 trailers signed up.. Cool - except that 27 showed up. Instead of 40 folks eating we have 64 - big difference. Interestingly - the extra attendees were not very involved in the pre rally arrangements - and didn't understand (or care ) that it was a planned pot luck - most didn't bring a dish - just their plates and forks. There is a difference between a formal rally and an impromptu get together....

So - while I'm on a rant - here's my list of rally etiquette peeves:
  • Pot lucks - a 3 oz package of m&m's is not a dessert dish, bring real food (or a BIG bag) - or ask ahead whats needed. Good pot lucks don't happen by accident.
  • Wine - I happily share and you are welcome to some of mine - BUT... Bring a bottle for the table and if you drink my good merlot - don't leave a bottle of Ripple!
  • Extra vehicles - most campgrounds charge for extra parking - don't expect the rally host to pay for yours!
  • If the rally is a do-it-yourself rally, pitch in. Help with the cooking or cleaning or entertain some ones kids so they can. Pick up your own trash.
  • Bring firewood to contribute.
  • Plan the next event! I like to relax too. I figure about one in twelve rallies is a good ratio....

eikel1we 08-07-2006 12:42 AM

A few years ago we went to a July 4th "picnic on the (estate size) lawn" and fireworks event at an old mansion turned B&B built riverside. Anyway, guests made reservations by paying in advance and admission/meal tickets were mailed to you. At the food serving tent you gave your ticket to a staff person and were given your plate and proceeded through the serving line.

A caterer needs to know, of course, how many persons to plan on in advance of your rally dinner and may not be able to accomodate extras, or at least very many, at the last moment. What is the caterer's policy on unexpected guests bringing their own meal? (Special dietary needs excepted)

IMHO, if people have not registered for the rally, they are technically campers like anyone else at that park whether by coincidene or planned. That would/should/might include handouts/giftbags, etc. as well as a pre-planned CATERED event. (Oh, we're so sorry. If we had only known you were going to be here!!)

I recall there being a couple of Airstreamers coming to a Midwest Rally one year who truly hadn't realized it would be good to let their intentions of coming be known.
They missed out on something(s) everyone registered got - I think a really nice personalized rally sign. Because our group meal was a potluck, there wasn't the problem of a caterer's count .

CaddyGrn 08-07-2006 01:13 AM

What to do...
There are several excellent suggestions in this thread!
  • Charge for the food... if it is catered. If it is a potluck, ask folks to bring something or donate $5 (or whatever amount is appropriate)
  • If the event is catered, give tickets to those who have paid and announce to ticket holders that "food is served" and collect the tickets as they bring their plates by. Others can either buy tickets or simply bring their own dinner and join in at a spot at the table.
  • Use for recruitment... good idea!
  • I think it is most important to make folks feel welcome. It is the comraderie and positive feelings of sharing information and stories about Airstreams that the community is all about. You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar my Mom always said.:innocent:
I have been to rallies/events where I knew the organizer didn't meet the financial needs because folks didn't show up or flaked out for some reason. I was happy to pitch in a few extra dollars to make it come out right. I had a great time and good company was well worth it to me! Just spread the word a little extra would be appreciated from willing folks... they will probably come through!

Mrs. NorCal Bambi (traveling in S Tardis)

Chaplain Kent 08-07-2006 08:00 AM

This thread really speaks for the rally with no meetings, no catered meals, no bakery cakes, no expenses, just friends getting together having a good time at an agreed on time and place.

Midamrail 08-07-2006 08:26 AM

We've had the good fortune to attend several rallies in which Shari has played a key role in organizing, and I think it's important to understand the type of rally of which she is speaking. Having planned both small Airstream rallies and work-related national conferences myself, I have a real appreciation for what goes into the type of rally of which she is speaking.

The kind of rally to which she is referring is often held at a very nice privately-owned campground at which a block of sites must be reserved months in advance (just like hotel rooms for a conference). Penalties arise for cancellations, and that's a risk the rally planners often take on. Caterers must be arranged for, and they have to have absolutely accurate numbers at least two weeks out if not more in rural areas - again, another financial risk. Her rallies feature packed goody bags, personalized trailer signs, extensive information with directions and maps made available far in advance, custom-made souvenirs, and careful parking maps based on trailer length and length of stay. I don't think those taking nasty shots on this thread understand the resources - time and financial - invested by volunteer rally hosts to pull off these national-level rallies.

I think the very, very least we can do as guests at these rallies is register before the deadlines. These hosts are volunteering their time outside their jobs, often use their own credit cards and checks for campground, food, and souvenir deposits, and spend their own money and time in making trips to inspect campgrounds and meet with service providers.

As a host for national-level conferences, our policy has been to have a registration deadline and a substantial penalty added for late registrants. Those registrants have to make their own lodging reservations. At times, we have simply had to tell people "no" if there wouldn't be enough food. It's not fair to those who paid in advance to not have food at functions because of those who came late or unannounced. I think it's certainly not unreasonable to do the same at rallies.

jimmickle 08-07-2006 08:48 AM

I believe that we should welcome rally crashers, at least the first time, and explain the costs for the planned events. If they are unwilling to pay their share, they should not be allowed to participate in the parts of the rally that cost, such as a catered dinner, or tour with admission.

If the rally is like most forums rallies, the only cost is the camping fee, which they would have to pay.

If they show up and they don't have something for the pot luck, help them out by sharing from your larder so they can at least bring something. Normally, there is plenty of food at a pot luck, so a couple of more people won't be a problem.

05ModPod 08-07-2006 09:21 AM


Originally Posted by InsideOut
I have observed one rally-hopper in particular repeatedly show up to club rallies, ALWAYS un-registered, not a club member, always really, really hungry when it comes to potlucks and meals (to a point of taking filled plates back to their trailer for tomorrow), and yet never seems to contribute anything. They know exactly what they are doing.

How would you handle that?

Shari :flowers:

Chop them off at their knees.:angry: :angry:

As many agree - there are those who are happening by - and most can tell those type of sincere and honest people!!!!

And then there are those - who are the "users" in all walks of life. See a good thing and have no concience and go about their whole lives like that!

If you were abrupt with them or said get lost - it would not phase them as they take their chance at each opportunity.

It does not just happen at Rallys either. I remember being at a check in desk - and happened to overhear a conversation - "no we don't want to pay $19.00 for full hook ups - we are just stopping in to park and leave first thing in the morning. They were given a number - the next site to ours. They paid nadda - and what was the first thing they did - hook up to water and then hook up their sewer hose. The sad thing about this situation - is that I never said anything to them or to the owners!!! That is what is sad about our society - we the rule goers just will not rock the boat - and yet if we ever find ourselves in a situation - I bet their would be people out their that "do the barking" pretty quick.....The other sad thing - we were embarrased to see that it was a fellow "Countryman"!!!

Another known fact is if these type of people are confronted - they usually back down pretty quick - and if they don't you know that as soon as one person confronts them the rest of your group will be with you in a flash.

It is not fair that one or two should ruin it for many.

So the big answer to your question Shari - is we either live with it - or we do something about it - there is no in between.

Always keeping in mind - the inocent as they truly will be very apologetic and offer up the funds or bring their own meal or wait for the tour to be over so they can join in the socializing....

I still voted D - as the fees should be paid like all others - if they don't then they are not in for the long ride. In cases where pre-head count determined the catered dinner then explain this to the person to bring their own food (or have a back up to run out and pick up the main course) or refund the protion of the Rally fee that relates to the pre-catered portion. Same with the tours if there are not enough tickets or spots then explain that the rally is a first come first serve - or pre-registered.

But for those who are just pulling the chains to begin with sell them a one way ticket back to their trailer.

Mike Lewis 08-07-2006 10:12 AM

Ben------Now I'm really confused!! If I happen onto a group of Airstreamers in a campground how do I know I'm welcome or not? How do I know if this a Member Only Unit Function, or just a group out camping and anyone is welcome? If I'm invited to come join in how do I know it's an official invitation or just a friendly person asking me over? Do I dare introduce myself and end up being tagged a "Rally Crasher" or should I just stay away. I can assure you this Exclusive attitude does little to promote new membership. Perhaps thats what you want anyway, at least it apears that way. I find it interesting that that someone would start a thread complaining of a perceived problem, asking for advice, then become offended when someone expresses theirs, only to backpeddle by saying it's not them complaining, as they are "the more the merrier one". Back to Sheri's original question, "any advice?" I stand by my original response. If your group does not want anyone except those who have pre registered, if walk in's are not welcome, if this is as exclusive as described, then you need to post the event as such. "Private Rally"-"Pre Registered Guest only"-"No Admittance"

Jim & Susan 08-07-2006 11:02 AM

Pieman, I would like to respectfully disagree with one thing, if I may, IIRC Shari said that this has been a problem in the past and well could be a problem in the future. That's not a perceived problem it's a real problem.

If you want to know if you can join the function after the fact, so to speak, simply ask. There are certain occasions where accommodations simply can’t be made. In this case, it sounds like the fact that an outside vendor has been contracted to provide a service to the group is limiting the availability of “add-ons”. Additionally, there appears to be limited physical space in the campground. Unfortunately, things like this happen sometimes.

This doesn’t (to me, anyway) sound like an instance where people are being rudely told “this is a members only event”. It honestly sounds like there are actual limitations on the facilities available for the event. As a result, there have to be a few ground rules or the whole thing will degenerate to chaos. Camping is supposed to be a fun event with family and friends, not an exercise in Byzantine like bureaucratic struggles.

Just my 2 cents.


Chuck 08-07-2006 11:09 AM


Originally Posted by Mike Lewis
Ben------Now I'm really confused!! If I happen onto a group of Airstreamers in a campground how do I know I'm welcome or not?


Originally Posted by Mike Lewis
How do I know if this a Member Only Unit Function, or just a group out camping and anyone is welcome?


Originally Posted by Mike Lewis
If I'm invited to come join in how do I know it's an official invitation or just a friendly person asking me over?


Originally Posted by Mike Lewis
Do I dare introduce myself and end up being tagged a "Rally Crasher" or should I just stay away.


Originally Posted by Mike Lewis
I can assure you this Exclusive attitude does little to promote new membership.

its not "exclusive". you're perfectly welcome to join the club and sign up for the next rally.


Originally Posted by Mike Lewis
Perhaps thats what you want anyway, at least it apears that way.

no it does not. neither does any other pre-arranged function, like a wedding reception or other catered event, where *arrangements* have to be made in advance.
If you'd crash a wedding reception just because you notice that the best man is driving the same make/model car as you...I guess that would be about the same as crashing a function attended by people who own the same make/model camper.

Having said that...I can think of a few occasions when our unit has been rallying, and we've noticed non-member airstreams in the same campground...they usually are sought out and dragged over to the party. :D BUT...we're talking about small rallies with 20 or 30 people "pot-lucking". "hey, no problem, c'mon over, have a beer." Potluck with ~120 people is just unmanageable. Big events like this one don't just happen. arrangements have to be made, months in advance, for very expensive "per-head" kind of stuff when you have a gathering that is this large. Just like any other function. The bigger it is, the more complicated it gets. if that sounds "exclusive" to'll just have to wait until you arrange a week long event for 120+ people yourself, and have a bunch of crashers show up, and then see how you feel about it. If you still feel that way, then "God bless America", its a free country. :flowers:

Midamrail 08-07-2006 11:14 AM


My point was that it is important in this case to understand the type of rally Shari's talking about and the extent of the preparations, which can make it hard to accommodate last-minute people, particularly in terms of catered meals.

However, at every Airstream rally I've been to or hosted, whether it was a big national event or a local get-together, somebody at the rally has made a point to visit any other Airstream trailer or MH in the campground that's not part of the rally and ask them if they would like to come over and join us. For the functions for which pre-registration is important - notably food, tours, and other functions where head counts really count and where rally fees have gone directly to pay costs - we've had to do no more than to explain those functions are part of the rally fees the attendees have paid, and the new-comers are always perceptive enough to either realize reimbursement is necessary or that those fuctions are for paid rally guests.

Shari's question, if I understand it correctly, is how to deal with those who knowingly "crash" rallies without paying the rally fees and/or come hoping to register on-site. Dealing with that situation effectively has nothing to do with Airstreams or this perceived elitist Airstream attitude - it comes down to just plain courtesy.

But I'm sure Shari would agree that if in the course of a rally she stumbled on another Airstreamer in the campground that she would be the first to go over, shake hands, tell them about the rally and the organization, and invite them to sit with us for happy hour or visit the open house. There is nothing in our posts that echoes "private club" or "private function" or that portrays Airstream functions as elitist and restrictive, and there isn't a one of us that wouldn't recruit and welcome a new member or friend at a rally. It's merely about trying to ensure those who have registered get what they paid for and finding a way to anticipate and deal with those who are planning to attend without pre-registering but are still expecting all the meals and other things for free or for the same rally fee as those who paid months ago in order to help the organizers effectively plan the function. To keep the costs so low for the attendees - nobody's making money here except the campground and the caterer - these things have to be planned down to the minutiae so there's no wasted food or expenses that have to be absorbed. Last-minute crashers expecting to be accommodated really put the crunch on everyone else for those things for which there is a direct and tangible cost, and that's true of every similar function, Airstream or not.


Stefrobrts 08-07-2006 11:47 AM

I'd say tickets to expensed events is the way to go. It might be inconvenient, but so what if a few folks have to get out of line to go back and get their tickets, and if someone loses theirs, then you might be able to look them up on a sheet, or you could have the ticket taker looking folks up on a sheet and checking them off.

Basically, you can't help but have to be a hardnose when dealing with something like a catered event where you have a limited resource. It's not fair for someone who paid ot not get food because someone else crashed the party, and it's not fair for the hostess to be expected to plan ahead and order extra meals for folks who didn't plan ahead.

I have attended a star party several times where you order your meal ahead, you get tickets, andyou treat them like gold. The meals are catered and if you don't have your ticket, you don't get one. They are 20 miles up in the mountains, and they won't be running back to town to pick up extras for gate crashers. It's not unfriendly, it's just understood, you don't get a catered meal unless you paid for it. Why is that so hard to understand.

Anyone who shows up at a rally unannouced should expect to be welcomed to the campfire, but not to a catered meal. And kudos to Shari for pulling off this event every year. I've been there and I've organized enough little rallys to realize what a huge, huge, HUGE undertaking this is. And anyone who knows Sherri would know she would not turn anyone away from any event in any way if it wasn't absolutely necessary.

59 GlobTro 08-07-2006 11:50 AM

rally-crasher response
Hi, Shari, How about something like this:

"Hi (insert names here), wow, you must have made your own park reservations when you heard our rally numbers were maxed! It's great that you came out to socialize with the VAC'rs. Unfortunately, the (insert events here) were all pre-arranged and paid for many weeks ago, but feel free to join us for the happy hour at (time and day)."

(You could even include: "Here's an itinerary of our events, and the things that are highlighted are events during which you can join us. The non-highlighted events are pre-arranged and pre-paid, so they're only for the pre-registered rally attendees.")

And finally, "Be sure to register early for next year's rally so that you can join us for the dinner, etc. It's so much fun to come to the pre-registered activities, and that's why they fill up so fast! It would be great to have you join us for all of the activities next year! Remember, you are welcome to join us during the happy hour this weekend!" :flowers:


1959 Globetrotter "GlobTro"
1975 Sovereign "Lovey"

jcanavera 08-07-2006 12:14 PM

All good thoughts....Shari, I was wondering when you set your limits this year if this was going to happen. Some random thoughts from my side of the table. I know for some that it's diffcult to reserve far in advance, especally if they want to attend. But you know if I was in that boat and I knew that food and other giveaways were for those who registered, I'd respect that and hope that I could join you all socially at events where attendence doesn't screw things up.

At Moraine View we've had some drop in who I hadn't planned for. In my case we have giveaways that are limited and only those who told me they are coming get them. I usually visit every trailer that comes in and if they haven't signed up, I make them aware of the pot luck and the need to bring a dish if they plan on eating with us.

I make the same assumption that based on campsites, you will know who is part of the group or not. If I were in your shoes, I'd probably have a special flyer made up to give to each of these unannounced attendees. It would welcome them and would detail the events that they are welcome to attend, and the events that are only for those who made reservations. That would be my first attempt to deal with this.

If this doesn't work, future events might require you coming up with some type of ID that folks could wear, or like noted earlier, nothing more than a roll of tickets that could be handed out to the reserved folks. No ticket, no meal.

I used to deal with the company Christmas party years back. We'd have it in a nice banquet or hotel facility that catered to many functions. It was always interesting to note the party crashers who would come into our room and mosey up to the bar to get free drinks. I normally had to toss a few each year. As attendance grew, it just became too big a deal to keep up with, so I started issuing drink tickets. The bar staff were told no ticket, no drink.


bake315 08-07-2006 12:18 PM

Being one who can't stand it when I see people who unabashedly disregard the rule of etiquette, in letter and spirit, I have to say this - crash my party once, shame on you. Crash my party twice, then shame on me. If you have repeat offenders, who clearly, in Shari's case, were in it for the "freebies", with no regard for tact or courtesy, then after the first occurence, you politely inform them of "how things work at the rally" If they try it again, you stop them cold. These "Dupree's" if you will, make a lifestyle out of this, and have long since stopped feeling guilty about it, assuming they ever did to begin with.

Continuing to validate such boorish behavior and allowing them to take advantage of your initial graciousness, would seem to yield no positive value, and indeed might create animosity within the group of folks who followed the rally guidelines, however informal. But here's a kink in that particular hose - If you make the decision to boot the second-offense freeloaders, you might want to ensure you have an ironclad consensus among those who "paid to play", because there's always someone who doesn't want to be "the bad guy" or thinks they need to feed everyone, no matter how rude and inconsiderate they might be. Just because you want to safeguard the enjoyment of the group members who contributed in money, time and food, doesn't make you a bad person, non-Christian, or whatever, for not rebuffing those who make rally (or party, or wedding) crashing a regular habit, assuming (usually rightly) that people will just roll over "because they don't want to make a scene".

Look, the rules, and the manners and etiquette that so many of us grew up with as children, and were taught to us by parents and grandparents, and whose own parents and grandparents taught them are under a withering attack every day and they are losing. Everything from driving habits to wedding invitations. I especially love the latter when we receive wedding invitations from relatives so distant I've never met them - which include bridal registry information right on the invitation! It's like "Hi! I don't really know you, and don't really expect you to come to my wedding halfway across the country, but we're related, so here's a list of places that have things I want, so you can just buy me something instead!" But I digress.

A while back we formed a small camping club of sorts where we had a potluck on one night during campouts. If we had a new member join us, the standing rule was, first meal is on us, after that, you pitch in. In a situation where there is catering, and a predetermined head count is used to gauge food requirements, if you don't RSVP, then you better be brown-bagging it. I would be furious if I busted my hump making sure everyone had what they needed, only to discover that when my time rolled around, some Johnny-come-lately ne-er do well had loaded up three plates and helped himself, leaving me nothing. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be warm, friendly and welcoming to the occasional straggler or potential new group member, but you have to address them with preference weighed toward the existing group, because at the end of the day, the group is there for the group. Otherwise, it may cease to be.

Boondocker 08-07-2006 12:27 PM


Originally Posted by jcanavera
...... I know for some that it's diffcult to reserve far in advance, especally if they want to attend. But you know if I was in that boat and I knew that food and other giveaways were for those who registered, I'd respect that and hope that I could join you all socially at events where attendence doesn't screw things up.

Jack has a point about some of us having problems being certain we can attend well ahead of the fact. Case in point, I wasn’t able to commit until the last minute (a week or so before) for Moraine Veiw this year. I appreciated that Jack was able to let me slide into a cancellation spot. Having said that, I would not dreamt of inviting myself to any of the events had there not been a space. I might have gone up and camped and said hi, but the fact that my schedule is bonkers doesn’t mean the world needs to change what it is doing on my account. To me, this isn’t an issue of rules, but one of courteous behavior and showing respect for others. As for food bandits, that is just plain wrong.

bryanl 08-07-2006 12:34 PM

So many factors! And a critical issue because it is used to bash and trash and as a means to impose guilt and obtain free benefit thereby.

A first key is making the distinction between "guest" and "crasher" - a guest is someone who doesn't know the rules but is considerate of the host while a crasher is taking advantage of the beneficence of others. Some crashers are unintentional and need a bit of education. Others are intentional and need discipline, sometimes to the point of enforcing trespass law.

Another key factor is group size and disturbance ratio. Squad and platoon sized groups can be more flexible than company or batallion sized. One or two individuals can often be easily accomodated but when the invasion start to stack up to squad size or better they will have a signicant adverse impact on planning and execution because of how they can impact the venue and resources.

A third key factor is the ticket price and type. For commercial facilities like a space rental campground, a catered meal, or a meeting facility this means monetary ticket with refund policies and other enforcement. For things like a pot luck, it can mean just an appropriate contribution to the event.

In the RV community you can often depend upon and trust people and expect them to be considerate of others. This is one reason why the occasional bad apple leaves such a sour taste. The fact is that any group has norms and expectations and most people can accept this and deal with it. Some people can't and are a problem for everyone. And, despite the harangues about WBCCI, the fact is that nearly all of the WBCCI members are like other RVer's - open and welcoming and friendly. But when it comes to the necessities of a group activity or event, they expect guests or others to be properly considerate of the organization, planning, and restraints that are involved in successful events.

One aspect of planning any group activity or event is discipline. Like insurance, you hope you never need it but when you do you are much better off if you have planned properly for the contingency. A rally planner and an organization need to determine ahead of time how to handle disciplinary matters and they need to make sure that they are not delinquent in taking care of problems, no matter how unpleasant. The discipline plan needs to be considerate of the key factors such I have described. The WBCCI bylaws provide an example of one working solution.

Any group must have standards for behavior. It must know and communicate these standards. It must enforce these standards.
If it does not do so, it will cease to exist as an organization that anyone is proud to join.

Jim Clark 08-07-2006 01:00 PM

I think crashing is rude, but is a fact of life.

To take the confrontation out of the expense parts I would go with a wristband. When you register you receive your wristbands, when it is time for food show the band no band no food. Have a few on hand to offer to the crashers. Tickets are too easy to lose.

My family and I went to Rally to check it out. We where so welcomed and treated so well we joined as affiliate members even though we aren’t members of WBCCI as of yet. At this Rally after breakfast on the first full day all money was collected and accounts settled. I helped prepare breakfast one morning and enjoyed everyone I met. I did not crash the Rally but did ask if I could attend and the Rally will always be a great memory.

Even in an informal rally setting I would assume that one would pay their way. Informal dose not mean free loading.


bobchevy89 08-07-2006 01:28 PM

I would tell crashers if you want to eat,wait till all paid members have eaten first ,had seconds then they could be invited to have a meal. NO doggy bags. members only allowed to have doggy bags..If they are known rally crashers,EMBERASS them by telling them NO free lunches this rally.....:innocent:

Condoluminum 08-07-2006 01:48 PM

Key Word = Habitual..

Much empathy and many of messages above touch on general open-ness and welcoming spirit for someone who just happens to be in right place at right time and is invited to join rally as a guest, or for people whose schedule is crazy enough that they must bounce from waiting list to last-minute in or out notices...

I think your initial messages really dealt with struggle about whether to have the "difficult conversation" with the habitual crasher, who somehow feels it is OK to make side reservations, skip the fees and eat the food... I doubt signs or wristbands or paper tickets (all good ways to track who is in and who isn't..) would be as effective as having the confrontational talk... If you're uncomfortable, see if another fellow leader of the group might enjoy having that talk, in private and away from the crowds, to explain that this behavior is not OK and must stop... The habitual crasher is a cheat, and your loyal volunteering and fee-paying members will eventually get as upset as you are over those who abuse the process... I suspect someone on your event planning team would love the opportunity to have a conversation, even if you wouldn't...

John McG

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