Author Topic: Ways to help First Timers {and others} enjoy the National more  (Read 18034 times)

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Offline kv5e

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Re: Ways to help First Timers enjoy the National more
« Reply #75 on: June 20, 2017, 07:28:06 pm »
We hated to miss this rally, but the adjusters and contractors on our hail damage could only schedule that week. :'(

Pamela and I were looking so forward to LOTO. >:(

From everything I saw and heard, it was a top notch, well attended Rally!  We are just heartbroken to not make it due the house and vehicle damages.

Craig

Offline Robby1953

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Re: Ways to help First Timers enjoy the National more
« Reply #76 on: June 20, 2017, 07:49:56 pm »

"We are only addressing the squeaky wheels. We assume this is the feelings of all new attendees."

That's insulting!
For three years now I've mostly kept quiet, largely because any expression of disappointed was met with response that's it's all my fault, my responsibility to insert myself into your pre established groups. Seems to me that if this is a topic of discussion after every rally there's a real problem and not just squeaking wheels, but have it your way I'm done with it.
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Offline Jim Snyder

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Re: Ways to help First Timers enjoy the National more
« Reply #77 on: June 20, 2017, 08:10:57 pm »
The rally team and volunteers are very busy at these rallies. It takes an enormous amount of time to pull off what happens at the events. Many times these folks Don't get free time to do what they want because they are trying to keep things rolling along for everyone else. We Don't need sarcasm we need ideas. Yes hit the reset button and concentrate on what has worked and what can be done better. What is past is water under the bridge. Let's paddle upstream.
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Re: Ways to help First Timers enjoy the National more
« Reply #78 on: June 20, 2017, 09:09:55 pm »
Disclaimer : I have yet to attend a National rally, and the distance I live and work make it impossible for me to attend many of the local COG events, but I would like to attend more than I am currently able to....

Anyway, reading this thread, I got to thinking what I'd like to see at my first National...

First off, like many others, I'm not real good at introducing myself to "strangers".  If there's an event, or ride, or meet-up that catches my eye, I'd certainly sign-up to attend and hope for the best.  At the same time, I'm no shrinking violet either, but would be hesitant about joining an already established group of old friends and possibly being considered a third-wheel (if that's not a misnomer in a motorcycle club)

At any of the local COG meetups I've attended, the people were more than welcoming to another Concours rider, and I've gotten to know them a little bit, but at a larger gathering there are a lot more people, old friends, and folks that have been hanging out together for, in some cases, many years.  Now, don't get me wrong - given the choice, I'd prefer to hang out with old friends than people I'd never met before, but that's just because of the 'unknown' factor. Why would I give up a guaranteed good time with my buddies for who knows what with a stranger?

I hope that establishes that I'm not putting blame for first-timer issues on the "old-timers", and after all, of of the biggest draws to an event like the National is renewing and enjoying old friendships, but if there was some way to make them all mingle and, possible, ride together that removed the hesitancy to change a potentially uncomfortable mingling of the known and the strange (not pointing at anyone in particular  :13:) it might make it easier for a newbie to become an 'oldie" (and possibly a goodie)

I've read this post with interest, and see some great ideas :
- I think the mentor thing is a great idea, but problematic - compatibility might be an issue, but might be a big benefit - it could go either way. If there was some method of establishing 'pairs' that have common interests/hobbies the percentage of success would be favourable...
- I also think some of the ice-breaker activities mentioned might be good - but there has to be a buy-in by the more established attendees for it to work.
- The guys that talk about pushing local meets as a precursor to National meets have it right, I think.  It would certainly be easier on the new guys if they knew a few guys and had pre-existing acquaintance with them before attending, it would certainly be easier to ease into the larger group.

I'll finish with this - when (not if) I can attend a National, I wouldn't be blaming the returning attendees for my not being involved as much as I liked.  That's my responsibility. BUT - if there were events/activities that encouraged the mixing of old and new, it might make it easier for the new guys to "break in" to the larger group.  AS LONG as the newbie availed him/herself to those opportunities - it's still really up to the new guy!

Work / Family / Distance situations prevent my attendance this year, but I'll make an effort to attend sometime in the future.

My $.02
Jamie



Offline Jim Snyder

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Re: Ways to help First Timers enjoy the National more
« Reply #79 on: June 20, 2017, 10:19:56 pm »
Disclaimer : I have yet to attend a National rally, and the distance I live and work make it impossible for me to attend many of the local COG events, but I would like to attend more than I am currently able to....

Anyway, reading this thread, I got to thinking what I'd like to see at my first National...

First off, like many others, I'm not real good at introducing myself to "strangers".  If there's an event, or ride, or meet-up that catches my eye, I'd certainly sign-up to attend and hope for the best.  At the same time, I'm no shrinking violet either, but would be hesitant about joining an already established group of old friends and possibly being considered a third-wheel (if that's not a misnomer in a motorcycle club)

At any of the local COG meetups I've attended, the people were more than welcoming to another Concours rider, and I've gotten to know them a little bit, but at a larger gathering there are a lot more people, old friends, and folks that have been hanging out together for, in some cases, many years.  Now, don't get me wrong - given the choice, I'd prefer to hang out with old friends than people I'd never met before, but that's just because of the 'unknown' factor. Why would I give up a guaranteed good time with my buddies for who knows what with a stranger?

I hope that establishes that I'm not putting blame for first-timer issues on the "old-timers", and after all, of of the biggest draws to an event like the National is renewing and enjoying old friendships, but if there was some way to make them all mingle and, possible, ride together that removed the hesitancy to change a potentially uncomfortable mingling of the known and the strange (not pointing at anyone in particular  :13:) it might make it easier for a newbie to become an 'oldie" (and possibly a goodie)

I've read this post with interest, and see some great ideas :
- I think the mentor thing is a great idea, but problematic - compatibility might be an issue, but might be a big benefit - it could go either way. If there was some method of establishing 'pairs' that have common interests/hobbies the percentage of success would be favourable...
- I also think some of the ice-breaker activities mentioned might be good - but there has to be a buy-in by the more established attendees for it to work.
- The guys that talk about pushing local meets as a precursor to National meets have it right, I think.  It would certainly be easier on the new guys if they knew a few guys and had pre-existing acquaintance with them before attending, it would certainly be easier to ease into the larger group.

I'll finish with this - when (not if) I can attend a National, I wouldn't be blaming the returning attendees for my not being involved as much as I liked.  That's my responsibility. BUT - if there were events/activities that encouraged the mixing of old and new, it might make it easier for the new guys to "break in" to the larger group.  AS LONG as the newbie availed him/herself to those opportunities - it's still really up to the new guy!

Work / Family / Distance situations prevent my attendance this year, but I'll make an effort to attend sometime in the future.

My $.02
Jamie

Very good points Jamie. Thanks
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Offline Ranger Jim

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Re: Ways to help First Timers enjoy the National more
« Reply #80 on: June 20, 2017, 10:49:46 pm »
Thanks Jamie. I hope to meet you at a rally sometime.
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Offline Sport Rider

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Re: Ways to help First Timers enjoy the National more
« Reply #81 on: June 21, 2017, 12:28:59 am »
Curiosity forces me to ask, do we KNOW if our past efforts have been effective (or not)?  Are we making these suggestions based on "old" data and assumptions? Has anyone queried past new attendees and asked them two simple questions: (1) What were your expectations? (2) What could have been done to make your experience better. Keep the questions open-ended. Only a genuinely interested individual will take the time to send a response.
Along these lines, how many were first time attendees at this last rally? What's the percentage?

we had in the neighborhood of 10% first timers at the 2016 national.  around 40 out of 400.

Offline ConcoursKZ

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Re: Ways to help First Timers enjoy the National more
« Reply #82 on: June 21, 2017, 10:33:47 am »
New attendees could write there name on a card. During the National experienced members could grab 1 or more cards out of the box and call them to set up a meet and greet, lunch and maybe a ride. All the new attendee needs to do is fill out a card and wait for a call. If we are only talking about 40 first time members this should be an easy fix.
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Offline Sport Rider

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Re: Ways to help First Timers enjoy the National more
« Reply #83 on: June 21, 2017, 12:12:20 pm »
I wonder if it's possible to try to create a culture of a "first timers meet/greet".  First Timers may not like being recognized.  I believe I have heard that in the past relative to the flag on the namecard, but to make it a big deal for members to come out to meet those that are at a National for the first time.  kind of a welcome party.  not so much of a hazing type of approach, but more like a celebration about bringing in new people to the national experience.  After all, the National is a unique experience even within COG.

Offline Ranger Jim

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Re: Ways to help First Timers enjoy the National more
« Reply #84 on: June 21, 2017, 03:09:27 pm »
At the first rally where we tried to identify the first timers by putting a red ribbon on their name tag, a few removed the ribbon because they "didn't want to be singled out."

IMO, the best action is to assign a (volunteer) mentor, preferably from the same region, who will get with the FNG (First National Guy) at the opening social, introduce him to several other folks, explain the rally works and invite him to accompany a group on a ride. In a perfect world, this mentor would have made contact with the FNG well in advance and established some level of rapport. After the initial ride the mentor and FNG can continue to hang out together or not as each decides.
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Offline connie_rider

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Re: Ways to help First Timers enjoy the National more
« Reply #85 on: June 21, 2017, 03:20:06 pm »
Back when the Ribbon wasn't wanted,,, the First Timers were sometimes called Rookies or FNG's. {F_____ New Guys}
NOTE: That was not the name's that COG used, (As Jim Pointed out, it was First National Guy) but it popped up somewhere, and stuck.
Both {Rookie and FNG) are clearly a negative sounding name, so, I understand why they wouldn't want the Ribbon.

Over the Years we've tried to find a name that is more acceptable..
   This year they used "First National", and "Member"
That's why I'm suggesting we use "First National Attendee" and "Experienced National Attendee".
   If you have another suggestion: Post it on this discussion..

By the way, this discussion is called "Ways to help First Timers enjoy the National more".
 I used that Title as my main concern is including the First Timers..
  Some have pointed out that we 're forgetting folks that haven't found a group to "ride and socialize" with.
      That is a good point. We need to include more than just First Timers in the planning.
           
To those that feel that they are in that group, please include yourselves in activities aimed at the First National Attendee's.
      And, join in this discussion with suggestions..   

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Offline Ranger Jim

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Re: Ways to help First Timers enjoy the National more
« Reply #86 on: June 21, 2017, 04:07:32 pm »
If someone has been to multiple nationals (2 or more) and hasn't found anyone to ride with I'm not sure there's anything that can be done to help. I know that sounds harsh but ... .
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Offline ConcoursKZ

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Re: Ways to help First Timers enjoy the National more
« Reply #87 on: June 21, 2017, 04:12:36 pm »
If someone has been to multiple nationals (2 or more) and hasn't found anyone to ride with I'm not sure there's anything that can be done to help. I know that sounds harsh but ... .

How many members went to one National and never went to another? I am sure that information is available. And why didn't they return?
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Offline Ranger Jim

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Re: Ways to help First Timers enjoy the National more
« Reply #88 on: June 21, 2017, 05:29:05 pm »
Most motorcyclists aren't going to randomly invite someone to accompany them on a ride. Now if someone inquires,"Hey, where you riding tomorrow?" there's a good possibility of an invitation.

Recognize too that most tend to prefer smaller groups (2-5 riders). If they're already at their maximum comfort number, don't expect an invitation.

Another point is that many ( like me, for example) have gotten pretty selective about who I ride with (well, there was that time I was forced to ride with Ted - shudder). Why would they be expected to ride with someone outside their comfort zone?
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Offline ConcoursKZ

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Re: Ways to help First Timers enjoy the National more
« Reply #89 on: June 21, 2017, 05:54:41 pm »
Most motorcyclists aren't going to randomly invite someone to accompany them on a ride. Now if someone inquires,"Hey, where you riding tomorrow?" there's a good possibility of an invitation.

Recognize too that most tend to prefer smaller groups (2-5 riders). If they're already at their maximum comfort number, don't expect an invitation.

Another point is that many ( like me, for example) have gotten pretty selective about who I ride with (well, there was that time I was forced to ride with Ted - shudder). Why would they be expected to ride with someone outside their comfort zone?

The highlighted parts of your statement are really the problem with the COG group as a whole. We really need to step out of our comfort zone and accept New Riders and New Members, it might inconvenience us a little. Nobody is asking Members and Veterans of this forum to dedicate their entire trip to New Riders. Just one day, one ride, one meet and greet. This might also allow some of the existing members who are riding by themselves at these events to Branch out and meet some new people. Isn't that the point?
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Offline Ranger Jim

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Re: Ways to help First Timers enjoy the National more
« Reply #90 on: June 21, 2017, 06:52:36 pm »
Those highlighted comments are NOT limited to COG but are pretty universal among experienced motorcyclists. There are some exceptions but my experience with GWRRA,HSTA (now MSTA), and BMWMOA has found it to be fairly common.
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Offline smithr1

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Re: Ways to help First Timers enjoy the National more
« Reply #91 on: June 21, 2017, 06:55:41 pm »
So I have read the thread, been to a bunch of nationals and I have planned and executed a national rally myself.  Here is my 2c.

Every year is different.  Partly because that is the way it may need to be.  If every event followed the same exact set of rules it might just get boring for us that have been to a few and ads no local flavor to the rally.  Given that, as a new rally lead I was given some guidelines and was able to ask questions of past rallies.  After input, the planners have to place themselves in your shoes and try to provide what about 300 DIFFERENT people want and expect.  No easy task.  No one has ever got it perfect.

It is worth noting again that almost every suggestion here has been tried before.  What is lacking is any feedback about what worked and what didn't for future planners to use.

Also there will always be those that are not willing to put themselves out there then feel left out.  It has to be stressed that if you want to enjoy yourself you have to make that happen yourself.  It is not the rally staffs job to personally entertain you and make you say hi to others.  I learned that at my first cog rally.  I had to make it what I wanted.

My suggestions, some repeats from others.

New attendees should be vetted at registration and sent an email telling them what to expect, where to find help and how best to enjoy the rally. 
(Note at the town hall this lack of info came up for new COG members also.  I think this would work for them also.  Just something in writing from COG showing we care and how things work around here.)

There has to be a designated gathering place that is widely used.  I wanted to go meet more people at this years but where were they? 
(I begged for the venue in 2012 to let us put a fire pit in the parking lot for us to gather around at night and get that camp feel.  They never really answered why not.  I found out the day the rally started that the original convention center had burned down and they didn't want fire, no way.  Good thing most everyone gravitated to one parking lot.)

Have a few types of rides that are lead for those that want it.  I don't want that but I know others do.  I think I tried to have at least one lead ride a day lead by someone that knew the area.  Not that many sign up but the ones that do usually really appreciate it.

Have AREA GTGs at the national also.  I mean make it easy for members from the same area to meet, party and get to know all/new members from your area.  I think ADs should be sure this is done every year even if they can not attend.

Make it easier to tell a members real name and online names.  Maybe print the users avatar on the badges next to the screen name.  (BTW I begged Fred to put names on both sides of the badges or the schedule on the back but he refused in 2012. :P  I am not sure how Brien talked him into it this year.  I just wish the lanyards were shorter so I don't have to stare at someone crotch to remember their name:)

Mentor idea can work.  The mentor could be just someone that is assigned to answer any questions from the attendee.  He would not have to be a best buddy.  Just make it clear someone is there that cares, can help and how to contact them.

If you see someone sitting alone ask them if that is what they want to be doing.

Sorry but if your web site has a New Attendees section make sure it does not look like this.  Never filled out.  Not trying to be mean I know how hard this is.  Just sayin. 
http://concours.org/national/2017-national-rally/2017-national-rally-first-timer-information
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Offline Jeff Kerkow

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Re: Ways to help First Timers enjoy the National more
« Reply #92 on: June 21, 2017, 07:00:15 pm »
As was mentioned before I have and will continue to lead rides but a lot of the time 5 turns into 10. Even as big as an ----- a as I am sure some people think I am I have not told anyone they can't come but it makes me think about not volunteering. If that happens to me I am sure others never volunteer again.

This is not a problem with COG it is just reality. Most motorcycle riders don't want to be ride leaders. I rode down with 7 other riders guess who lead the whole way.  These are my friends and all good riders perfectly capable of leading and if I would have refused to lead someone would have done it but it is not their preference.  I also belong to other motorcycle clubs and it is the same way there.

Sounds like the next national has Jim S. and others to lead rides so this hurdle should be covered.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2017, 07:13:15 pm by LSGiant »
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Offline Ranger Jim

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Re: Ways to help First Timers enjoy the National more
« Reply #93 on: June 21, 2017, 07:07:05 pm »
Many of us do make the effort to seek out new attendees, thank them for coming, ask if they have any questions or need anything. I, typically, don't invite them on a ride unless they ask me where I'm riding. If they demonstrate an interest in where I'm planning and we have space for them, I may invite them to join us. I feel my role is to provide information/assistance/guidance on how to best enjoy the rally. I'm not there to hold their hands or be their area guide.
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Re: Ways to help First Timers enjoy the National more
« Reply #94 on: June 21, 2017, 07:37:11 pm »
I make it a point to invite them.  how better to make a friend?  if I have to adjust my riding style down, that's fine with me.  it's not like I'm going to die because I didn't ride really fast that day.

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Re: Ways to help First Timers enjoy the National more
« Reply #95 on: June 21, 2017, 08:45:32 pm »
Quote from: LSGiant

Sounds like the next national has Jim S. and others to lead rides so this hurdle should be covered.
[/quote

Thanks LS, when I led rides in Johnson City everyone had a blast. Of course they were all to the Snake but nobody seemed to mind.
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Re: Ways to help First Timers enjoy the National more
« Reply #96 on: June 21, 2017, 09:39:00 pm »
The more I think about this......

I think the club is doing a lot of the right things. First-time/newbie/ice-breaker meeting(s) are good, it's a place to meet and greet. (Of course it would be Mandatory for anyone with the salutation of  REV to attend, along with anyone named Jim  ;D ) Give those who want to meet new people a place to do it.

After that, I've always thought that groups rides are needed. Make things easier, make them a group ride to a destination (something to see or someplace to eat). Destinations are good because if the group that shows up is too big to manage, you can more easily break it up. The 5 or 6 person per group rule is nice but sometimes it doesn't work, be prepared to handle whatever the day throws at you.

You can't really hang this on the long time members. If they want to take time out of their vacation, good for them. But to expect them or require them, not cool. No sense making a rally better for someone at the cost of making it less enjoyable for others.
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Re: Ways to help First Timers enjoy the National more
« Reply #97 on: June 21, 2017, 11:55:59 pm »
I agree. We are doing a lot of the right things. It goes back to the leading a horse to water thing.
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Offline Just Cliff

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Re: Ways to help First Timers enjoy the National more
« Reply #98 on: June 22, 2017, 12:42:30 am »

The best way for a new rally attendee to feel included is for them to get involved with other (local) members BEFORE the National. Go to the National with some folks they already know. Every region has stuff going on, go to some. If they aren't going to do that then put on their big boy/girl underwear and walk up to people and introduce themselves. If they're not willing to put themselves out there there's not much we can do to make them feel "included."

If someone has been to multiple nationals (2 or more) and hasn't found anyone to ride with I'm not sure there's anything that can be done to help. I know that sounds harsh but ... .

I agree. We are doing a lot of the right things. It goes back to the leading a horse to water thing.

I pretty much agree with everything Jim said. COG has done there part by bringing a few hundred like minded folks together in one central location.

I was new to COG when I attended my first National in 2012. I'm not the most outgoing & talkative person around, some even say a little standoffish. Nothing meant by it, just my trait. I still didn't expect to have my hand held either. I got to wear the red ribbon, ride alone in an area local to me. Didn't let it bother me, started attending some regional events & got to know some folks. Have been to every National since & have made some very good life long friends.

I've seen some of the well known long time members get bombarded by acquaintances & friends when they pull into a National. So I don't think they intentionally ignore 1st. timers, there just very distracted.

Just my thoughts!

Cliff   :beerchug: 
Cliff
2008 Concours, 200,000 miles & counting. 
2014 1000 V Strom

Offline Swampcat

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Re: Ways to help First Timers enjoy the National more
« Reply #99 on: June 22, 2017, 12:55:20 am »
Cliff, while it's on my mind, I wanted to let you know that I thoroughly enjoyed riding with you Thursday. I meant to catch you at the banquet and let you know. Hope to do it again sometime.

Local involvement is essential, but getting involved is key at whatever level. Coming into my second National as Concourier editor meant that I  knew a lot more people across the organization and outside of my area. I rode by myself Tuesday and Wednesday; both were by choice. Jorge and Irene invited me to join with them Wednesday, but I wanted to do the challenge ride. Ran into them in Jefferson City anyway. :)  At the Lodge, there was always someone to talk to.
--Ed
2004 C10 ("Shoodaben")
1991 Vulcan 500 ("Lorath")

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