After about 10 meets this year, and season closed for 2017, the Western Pennsylvania Orienteering Club
is considering ways to increase its base membership, to look at for future meet directorship, volunteers, etc etc.
We noticed that more than half of participants at regular meets are first-timers that never return to do another meet.
We need to grow our membership base, as it is the source of our volunteers. Without them, there would be no regular meets.
We are thinking of handing out coupons "Your next meet is FREE" to first-timers, so that they get more time to know the orienteering sport.
If you have suggestions on how to increase membership, and entice first-timers to return for a second try, post 'em here.
We also really need new members. We tried the free coupon thing - there's an introductory program (also free) that we run with one of the parks twice per year. We gave the coupons out there to probably 200-300+ people over the course of several years. We might have had 10 or so of them used. None of those people stuck around long term. People will come to these programs, enjoy it, be all excited about it, talk with you for an hour... and then never show up again. I don't think event cost is the issue.
Think about how you can get feedback from those newcomers.
1. You could create a survey or feedback form of some kind that you can distribute to newcomers, to ask about their experience.
--Honestly, none of us veterans really know why newcomers don't come back, because we all stayed! So to find out the answer, you need to ask those newcomers who didn't come back. This may be very hard, since those people don't really have an incentive to give you more of their time... but whatever feedback you can get should be very insightful.
2. Do you have a person volunteering as a Newcomer Instructor at every meet? If not, start doing so. When a newcomer checks in*, direct them to the Newcomer Instructor to get basic instruction.
*This means tracking whether people are newcomers via registration somehow, like a checkbox that says "is this your first time?" or something like that.
--The main idea here is acknowledge newcomers, talk to them, and make sure they feel included and understand what's going on.
3. Do you have a person volunteering at the finish to greet finishers? This person can talk to newcomers about their experience on the course.
--Again, the idea is to make newcomers feel welcome.
I am doubtful that the cost of a second event is what is preventing newcomers from coming back, so I don't think a coupon will do the trick.
My suggestions above are based on my presumption that your club is made up of older people who have known each other for a long time, and thus can feel clique-ish to newcomers. I could be completely wrong, and I do'nt mean it as an insult, but that's what I gleaned from looking at the outdated style of the club website.
Does your club use e-punching?
Here are some things we've been doing:
1) Offering a short tutorial for newcomers before meets.
2) Members who are willing to go out on the course with newbies.
3) Working hard to increase our Facebook presence/publicize events. This was a big one for me because I was pretty interested in going to meets but would frequently miss them because I wasn't aware of an upcoming meet.
4) Cross-promoting with a local, beginner-friendly, AR.
Taking in what Run_Bosco suggests, and knowing that the reason a lot of people *do* come back is the social aspect, what about some personal outreach to newcomers after their first event? A handful of old-timers can each be assigned a few newcomers and contact them personally with a simple email/FB msg/SMS - "Hey, it was great to see you at Awesome Park this Saturday! There's another event next month at Also Awesome Park. See you there?" Even if they don't ever come back, the personal approach might mean you actually get some feedback about why not, e.g, "sorry, I found 72 ticks on my legs, I'm never going into the woods again." I have not tried this but I would like to.
QOC collects email addresses on the non-member registration form (compliance isn't %100 but there's not much we can do about that) and does more or less what Cristina suggests above (with I'm sure some content beyond "It was nice to see you at our event; we hope you can make it to this future event." but Greg Lennon would be the one to ask what has been tried over the course of time in that regard). Sadly I'm not in a position to say anything definite about how well it works or the extent to which even when it doesn't work at generating repeat business, it yields any useful insights into why people don't come back.
That said, if the general info on the WPOC web site is to be believed, your events are already ridiculously cheap, even for non-members (weirdly, I didn't see anything to suggest members pay less than non-members so I can't help wondering what your case for the benefits of membership designed to appeal to people who don't already have warm fuzzy feelings about WPOC is) so I concur that next meet for free coupons are likely to be useless. Really, as cheap as orienteering in general is compared to other leisure activities, I doubt that coupons for free or discounted orienteering serve any useful purpose other than allowing you to track how successful a particular promotional effort was based on how many coupons you gave out and how many were used.
Following up on RunBosco's closing, a few years back I started a thread about the uneven quality of US O club web sites and what could/ought to be done about it - http://www.attackpoint.org/discussionthread.jsp/me...
. I think it's fair to say both WPOC and SVO have web sites that are stuck in the past in terms of their overall design and not doing a whole lot to draw in the casual visitor who may not already be sold on taking the plunge and trying orienteering for the first time. One of the things I find encouraging about the 50th anniversary fund drive and the current OUSA board is that both profess an awareness of this being a problem and the intention to try to do something about it.
I realize this and would gladly hand the website reins to somebody who wants to overhaul, but there aren't many options and seems to be no interest. We are basically down to 3 people trying to keep everything going. I search periodically for a local evening course to get myself started on Drupal or some other modern CMS, but have found nothing. I don't learn well by teaching myself, only enough to fumble around with things. This makes it feel like a monumental task.
In New England, our club produced an activity list showing how many events each person attended that year. Half the list was zeros and ones. There are a lot of bucket listers, and people who try something for variety. I'd say that getting almost half the newcomers back is doing well. Can you ask more people to help out, even in small ways, like posting results? This won't save effort in the short term, but produces volunteers over the long term. It's slow, but worthwhile.
Our state has just last week held an Increasing Participation workshop - towfold attack. Firstly - increasing participation can come in 2 ways - getting people to go to more events/hold more events and get more to join the sport. The first will inevitably lead to burnout and isn't sustainable. So how to successfully approach the second?
Make the experience relevant - at our club we have a 'welcome' person (OK mostly it's me) who when people come to Rego desk are directed to. I go through the admin bits, then the map, then take to start and then go out on course with them for 2-3 controls. The Finish Desk are alerted to them as new and when they return they at least get a "hey how was that?" ie acknowledge first time. We don't actually go through the course very often - maybe. Then mid following week I email them after results are posted on club site and congratulate them - no matter what the outcome. Then I refer to next event. One of the very important things to do is to introduce them to someone else in the club of similar age or if young family similar, or if know someone etc.
We have a first timer pricing and membership discounts. We offer an Associate Membership rate - good as a teaser - and many of our Associates in their first year convert to full membership in the second. The key is to make the experience relevant - so people and places. Introduce them to eg president of club or one of the 'elites' if there is a very young person involved. When doing the introduction/map with the family - speak to the kids - not the adults. The adults will appreciate not putting pressure on them and will notice that it is family friendly and encouraging. If the kids want to be involved the parents will too. In the general chit chat I ask where did you hear about orienteering etc and lever on that.
We seem to attract people through series of events. We hold 4 "series" each year - our usual Bush (winter) season, Summer Series (mostly street based events in our daylight savings period), Park Series - similar to a Sprint style but held in bush friendly parks, MTBO. People are obviously free to come to one or many of these and the Street series attracts runners whom we then "massage" via the Park Series into approaching Bush events. Admittedly the dropoff rate is fairly high but we do get repeat custom and sometimes it takes 2 years of Streets-Park to get a successful Bush conversion.
Be also aware that there is some research to say that it takes X number of exposures to something to get a conversion - make it relevant.
After trying your first orienteering event how could you not want to be coming back for more? My first event was in mid October of 1969, the first and only event staged by the not-yet-formed Ottawa OC that year. I spent the next several months having difficulty waiting for trhe next event the following spring. Well I didn't wait. When they announced a snowshoe event I borrowed a pair of swnowshoes and ventured out, compass and map in freezing hands.
Why doesn't everybody take to the sport that way? It helps to love the woods and exploring. It helps that Al Gravelle and Colin Kirk the organizers of the first event took down names, addresses and phone numbers of the participants and made sure we got newsletters about the event and phone calls to come to the clubs founding meeting. It helps to stay in touch with your 'clients' and let them know their participation was appreciated and they are welcome to return.
Then there is the Disney saying "Sell the sizzle; not the steak". Orienteering should be more of an experience that excites. Here are some other ideas, some taken from above:
Greeters are a great idea.
Assigning small jobs is also great.
How many clubs at local events make any kind of a deal about winners or about participation prizes? Recognizing winners, particularly youth is an important part of any competition, even for those who don't win that day. They see it is something to strive for. They also see it as a reason to stick around and socialize after their race.
How many clubs do a write up of the event for their website or the local press. It tickled me no end to see my name in a local daily paper for winning the novice course at an Ottawa event that next spring. My name in the paper! Imagine that! I stil have the clipping. What should these reports say? Names, names and more names.
This one will be controversial because orienteering is in a Catch-22 here but I'll bet more than a few first timers are turned off by the white course. "That's it? We gave up a day for that?" The white course is appropriate for most 12 and under but for adults, even if they make mistakes it is just too dumbed down.
So this year Suncoaast Orienteering is trying an alternative. We will set four standard course correponding color-wise to yellow, orange, green and red/blue. For arranging the plalcement and pick up of controls we have to print 'all control' maps. So at each event we are offering the Family Adventure Course where families, groups or individuals can try their hand at picking which controls best suit them. The controls will be the ones set out for the other courses, with no set order and only the end of the event as a time deadline. I'm betting they make the choices that best suit them.
Finally I want to borrow a page from Adventure Racing and eliminate the DQ. All who get all controls correctly will be ranked by their time. The rest will be ranked according to the number of controls they succeeded in getting. There is no need to DQ people just because it has always been done that way.
So those are my ideas on how to get 'em coming back. Does anyone have any great ideas on how to attract them inthe first place?
I had a similar experience to Gord. At age ten, I did my first course and was hooked, despite slightly odd and incorrect beginner instruction by someone who must not have done orienteering before. A young Lans Taylor was interested in my result until he realized that I in a group (with my father), and thus not directly competing with him. That was the only White course I did until twenty years later when there was a White Course Challenge for experienced orienteers to do a White course as quickly as they could.
I like the idea of score events for beginners...find as many controls as they can, of whichever difficulty. A few first timers are quite good and could handle intermediate or even advanced controls; they're also pretty likely to continue.
Are we attracting the right newcomers? There are certain people who really seem to crave orienteering. Can we identify that demographic and target it?
@Julie: you could try whyjustrun.ca
-- it's free and you get a reasonable basic site integrated with facebook and calendar, and mobile-friendly, and basic CMS capabilities. It's easy to try out -- I think they can set you up with wpoc.whyjustrun.ca
and if you like it you can point your own domain name to it. The guys who run it have been very responsive to any questions. Also, if two neighboring clubs have whyjustrun based site, they can get neighboring club event's automatically intermixed with their own on the calendar list (I think everything within three hour drive gets linked). Basically, no maintenance required, and multiple people can manage the events and calendar. We use it for smoc-runs.com
many clubs in Canada use it too.
adding to the discussion this one that was sent to me by email
My hypothesis is that WHITE courses are boring. They may engage the mind in the basic skills of map orientation, map symbols and very simple route choice (left, straight or right?) but they DO NOT provide the addicting chemical thrill we get in our brain when we solve a complex and strenuous off-trail leg and catch site of that very small flag in a very big forest.
It would be interesting to see what the rate of return would be if we gave a first experience that included:
- A one-on-one off-trail session with an experienced orienteer.
- Homework that includes learning map symbols and "armchair O" contour line interpretation. These could be provided on our website.
- A second one-on-one session that would include a contour and symbol quiz followed by another off-trail experience where the trainer follows at a distance.
- A third session that would be a solo orange level experience followed by a course review where the trainee would explain their though process for each leg.
This would be more akin to the instruction model utilized by flight training, sailing, photography, etc.
That's an interesting option... but if you have multiple new folks, you'll need several experienced trainers available to work with them for several weeks (and probably giving up their own runs in the process). And in the traditional model, they probably volunteer all of that time. Flight training, sailing, and photography lessons all have one thing in common... they aren't cheap.
Having a look at whyjustrun... that may work as a stopgap measure, anyway, and be able to be integrated later into a more customized site.
RMOC offered a Yellow course guided by an experienced orienteer (Neal Barlow). This was well received.
I taught orienteering in university, going out onto the many fine maps nearby. Ten weeks (thirty hours) of this got orienteers to the ability to orienteer at an advanced level, if generally slowly. Such a course might make orienteering more rewarding to interested newcomers.
We experimented with free, solid off trail lessons with an experienced orienteer - the retention rate was horrifically bad (I think it currently stands at 0). Now, perhaps I'm an acquired taste, so that might be a factor, but anyway it was not worth it. I would have been better off working part time at a gas station and using the proceeds to buy FB ads, by the time I drove 30 miles to the park, spent 60-120 minutes walking around with 'em, and returning home. By the time you get to a handful of lessons, that's enough time to scout / set / host a small event!
Retention of people who tried it, struggled, wanted help, and then got a good 1:1 walk in the woods is much better. (One of our current hosts is here, I think in part, because of that model.) They kinda like it, and have some idea what they want to get out of the lesson....
I do agree that White is boring and shows nothing of what I consider fun (jumping streams / logs / hills / swamps). Maybe more streamered legs through fun terrain?
My position re: the website remains the same - OUSA, please develop/pay some to develop a single solution for the X clubs not big enough to want to do it themselves, preferable with a backend w/ payments/membership etc. Then charge the clubs for it - I don't care about the money as much as there are better uses of small club resources than redundantly crafting/hiring the craft of new payment systems. In the meantime whyjustrun will work, since the ad hoc editing is nice and it's easy to use. We just won't be modern with any prepayment etc.
I am intrigued by the idea of an all controls / score o for first timers.
Score-O also has the attraction of being more social than interval starts: you can have everyone hanging around meeting each other both before and after.
Wait, what? People send adults out onto "white" courses? (We call those "Beginner" courses at CascadeOC, btw). What a snore!
Our baseline recommendation is that adults begin with Intermediate. (That's, uh... yellow? or..?)
If you're going to be an orienteer, then you're going to be someone who likes to be at least a little bit challenged. Those who don't want to be challenged will choose easier road and trail runs to participate in.
With regard to building a generic website for the X number of clubs too small to build their own, the 50th Anniversary Fund has money for that purpose. As a board member, I will push for it but others have to be involved as well. Perhaps, someone will make a proposal to the board about how they will make this happen. Hopefully, this will happen sooner rather than later. I don't have the skill set to build the websites but others do.
Re: website, this is actually something I have been thinking about and have worked on a bit. I'm not sure if it's the way to go or whether it would be a good thing for OUSA to do, but I like doing it.
Does anybody have experience with using OUSA Event Register for local "C" events?
Is $15 per event fee too high?
I've used it. It worked fine for the rogaine I put on last spring.
I think $15 is a total bargain and would gladly have paid more to have all the data saved in a nice database with easy access for several people and a payment system in place. I'm not sure at what price I would start to think it wasn't worth it, but I suppose that depends on how many people you expect to sign up.
Because the National Park Service doesn't allow money to be collected on-site, we used the OUSA event registration system for the Wild Goat at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. Even for thirtyish entries, it was worthwhile. Make sure you have time to set it up properly, if it's not your usual system.
Rather than reinventing what exists, why not start with whyjustrun and add the desired extra features over time? It's worth asking whyjustrun's developers if they want to collaborate. That way everyone gets the benefits. The system could be hosted at orienteeringusa.org
, as well as whyjustrun.ca
, or some such.
Indeed, if event register can be made to work for small events, then just adding its event page as a registration link in whyjustrun would solve our problem, no?
I guess I am biased because our closest neighboring club is in Canada.
ROC uses a greeter, a clinic person and someone to do a String O. We also do a spring beginner's clinic at a local running store that adjoins one of our small park maps. Events like our mass start Night O seem to attract lots of families and school groups. Maybe because it is at night and doesn't conflict with other sports and activities. Many of our most energetic members seem to enjoy the social aspects of orienteering.
One issue with the local event version of EventReg is that pricing structures vary greatly among clubs, especially regarding groups.
I think you can choose the pricing structure in EventReg, at least that seemed to work for the test event I added.
One thing that is not that great is the amount of information you have to fill out to register, probably okay for an OUSA member as it can pull that info, but for a casual first-timer seems like a lot of info collected just to get registered for a local event.
The local event version of EventReg is based on a much older codebase and is much clunkier than the national event version. It has been my plan to merge the two together, to bring everything onto a unified platform for new features and configuration, but other structural issues have been getting in the way of making that happen for the past year.
One of the things I enjoy the most about orienteering is timely post-course analysis. When it is still fresh in my mind, I like to see my routegadget tracks. I think It is interesting to revisit your course and see "oh, that's why I did that".
To that end, while probably not very cost effective for smaller clubs, perhaps issue a cheap GPS watch to first-timers for a quick review of their adventure?
Agree with jvincent that replay of courses is an important tool to improvement but I despair for those who feel they need to do that with a GPS tracker/ logger.
The best method is to replay the route by making pen tracks on the map. It forces you to REALLY look at the map and recall the details like "where did I lave the path.?" "I used that cliff as an attack point" "I went through that marsh, not around" etc etc. You will rarely get the recall perfectly on the map but it will be close and the map study benefits far outweigh the few mistakes that happen.
Another thing to consider when looking at a clubs poor return rate for newcomers is th event schedule. Isw yours one of the clubs that holds one event a month? I do not think that is enough to get people seriously interested in the sport. How can a person get interested if they have to wait four weeks, sometimes five for the next event.
Look at Ottawa OC. They are growing and blossoming. I think two things account for most of that -weekly evening training sessions that apparently are as social as they are technical. The other is strategically designed 'seasons' that offer one event per week during the three seasons. Spring - mid April to end of May, Summer Solstice - evening city park score events in June and the most popular Fall which starts in early September and seems to go longer and longer as the globe warms.
I'd suggest to the clubs that try to stretch their resources over 10 to 12 months that they cut back on the months and concentrate more events in a shorter time period. People can then look forward to the next event being in a week or two. (Except of course at season end.)
+1 for old skool route gadgeting.
By the way, most phones can be a just fine GPS watch using a free app. I use that often rather than my various GPS watches. And nearly everyone has a smart phone.
Use your device of choice. But the newcomer needs to be made aware that that's a thing. And if I were that good at old skool routegadgeting, I wouldn't make those mistakes in the first place!
I think that this conversation raises a question about "how do small club's succeed"? A big club has enough members to organize dozens of events per year, which in turn is enough orienteering to keep Ken members interested, without having the same few organizing everything. A small club doesn't, and in small cities, perhaps never will. Some places have nice terrain and one or two keen orienteers, but no more. Is there a way to make such places viable orienteering locales, perhaps by having each small city in a region organize one event a year, maybe a rogaine, and people drive to neighboring cities to orienteer?
Well, it's certainly worth trying to manually route gadget, and then compare with the GPS to see where you weren't where you thought you were. It also gives you the chance to think through where you might have been given where you in fact ended up. Sometimes that, without any gadgetry, is enough in post race clear mind to let you figure out what you did and why you went off.
I know this is getting off topic, but I agree with "And if I were that good at old skool routegadgeting, I wouldn't make those mistakes in the first place!" Drawing in a route the old-fashioned way is great if you pretty much always knew where you were. But if you get totally lost on a leg or two (which I have certainly done), trying to draw in your route is pretty hopeless. If I had known where I was, I wouldn't have been totally lost. That's when it's nice to have GPS track, so you can see how you messed up. (And in some cases, the GPS track shows that I may have come very close to the control on my first attempt, didn't see it, and then got into trouble when I didn't figure out how to relocate.)
Perhaps you're not that far off topic... Is the idea of getting "totally lost in the woods" a stigma that keeps people from trying it in the first place? Something that could easily be solved by the experienced guide accompanying the first timer. But how do you get that word out? And can you sustain that level of volunteerism?
And as far as the website goes, for the good of the sport, why not let those clubs who don't have a strong web presence just use the good work that say COC has done, and just show them how to update their content? Credit being given to the creator, of course. The casual attendee would probably never know that SVO's site looks similar to COC's.
Organise advertised, not-free, orienteering course. Two proper (evening?) lessons, one theory indoors, one star orienteering with feedback outdoors, then third one is participation at a local event. Charge 50 things, unless you live in Norway or Sweden, in which case it should cost more things.
It's easy to hold an event every week, even just for a month, when you have many volunteers and dozens of maps. Much more difficult when you have 2-4 people who also work, travel, have families and other obligations, and a handful of locations to work with. Then there's working around everyone's schedule, other park events/permitting process, transferring equipment, holidays, the events of nearby clubs, and national events. Realistically, this usually stretches our schedule to 3-4 events over 2-3 months in the Spring and again in the Fall.
We've even tried having a big nearby club add a few of our events to their schedule, counting them toward big club's ranking system. This has had some occasional success as far as raising attendance at that specific event (and bringing in some money) and the people who attend may help pick up controls or something that day. But in the grand scheme of things it really doesn't help the overall situation. They have their own volunteer efforts with their home club and we usually don't see them again until maybe the next ranked event.
It at least makes those events worth the effort. Nothing is as demoralizing as spending multiple days planning courses and then having 8 people total show up.
Training or social events sound fantastic as well, but are also difficult for us to schedule frequently. When your members work and are scattered 1-2 hours apart it's basically impossible to do anything in the evenings. (We have this issue with another non-orienteering club I belong to also.) That may be much less of a problem when you live in a large metro area with many people close together. Again, we have tried this a handful of times with little response. We also tried using Meetup to advertise events for a while (regular meets and special trainings) which often resulted in people showing interest online but never turning out in reality.
When your club gets below critical mass, it becomes a giant catch-22. You need more people to hold more events, but you need more events to bring in more people. And they need to be a certain type of people. As demonstrated above, having more customers is great, but not if you don't get a few new helpers too.
Some clubs have a handful who constantly volunteer with boundless enthusiasm and seemingly endless energy. I'm so thankful for what those people do for orienteering. I try to do my part, but I'm definitely not one of them. And I've also seen many others come in and volunteer heavily for a year or two and then burn out and disappear. That's another danger when trying to rebuild.
"it becomes a giant catch-22"
The reason I could never get my son to come to an event when he was a teenager is because there was no one else at the event. I think that is what happens with many of the new people - they are expecting a certain degree of pomp and circumstance and maybe all they see is one guy with a laptop running off his car battery.
I used to ask my son: wouldn't you rather have a podium finish than come in 23rd in a cross-country meet? He said he would take the 23rd, because that's where his friends were.
I have no solutions to this catch-22, unfortunately.
The catch-22 behooves any club that even remotely thinks they might be on the brink of shrinking to aggressively promote themselves, I think. I hope we caught our slide early enough to restore sustainability.
There go we, but for the grace of Thor... Sorry, Scandinavian sport joke.
Is six hour rogaine a partial answer to this... Worth driving further to, more orienteering for the effort, use standard topos. Maybe, rather than trying to get more people and events in each area, get more small clubs an hour or two drive apart, each organising one six hour event a year with their two or three keeners and handful of others? Bigger clubs can do more ISOM stuff; people can travel to national events or goats or whatever to get that.
By the way, OUSA may have a list of people (and their contact info) who have contacted OUSA from neighbouring cities for info about orienteering. I used such a list when organising an event near Burlington, Vermont with J-J ages ago. (A map existed, made by Dave Linthicum for Ed Hicks' Orienteering Unlimited, who produced it for some organisation that was having a convention and wanted to do orienteering. I figured that it might as well get used.)
most popular...starts ... seems to go longer and longer as the globe warms.
I totally agree with Gordhun: although some places, those full of sin, may disappear from the face of the planet, overall the global warming is a really good thing,
and lots of exciting places for O'ring opening up in the uplands of Newfounland and Putorana plateau
One way to do more events and recruit more course setters is sprint or score O events in smaller parks. A smaller number of courses or controls is less intimidating to new course setters than a full 5 or 6 course palette.
yurets, the warming is pushing our summers longer and our not-summer shorter in this little bit of 'down under' - and we don't orienteer in the forest in summer as it's dry, hard ground, more prickly vegetation - and more importantly, full of active poisonous snakes! We really must have been naughty.
Clarification: I did not suggest global warming is a good thing. I just commented that it is happening (as it has been for some 20,000 years) and one of the effects is that it seems to be lengthening the orienteering season in Ottawa.
But to the point of the discussion: I very much endorse the idea of O-USA (with permission) passing on contact information of inquirers to the nearest club. Same goes for orienteering suppliers.
Also like the idea of a template website for orienteering clubs. Look at the websites for the major professional sports teams in North America. Across the league all the teams' websites share an identical structure. I don't know why they do it but as a fan of several sports I know it makes navigating the sites very easy.
One thing about whyjustrun is that it's not just a common template, it's also fully hosted by them, so you do not have to do any admin work at all (if you do not want to). If you do want to host and tweak it, you can just check it out from https://github.com/WhyJustRun
I guess what I am saying is that just a common template is not enough.
@furlong47 I'd be willing to check out Drupal for the club.
I've started working on a whyjustrun site, which should serve us just fine for now and could be integrated into another design later if somebody gets ambitious. Our season is over in another 10 days so I can work on it to reveal in 2017.
@gordhun: Thank you for clarifying your point. No need to be apologetic. It is always a zero-sum game, with both winners and losers.
Canadian citizens will be enjoying longer periods of mild warm summers, full of orienteering and other highly intellectual outdoor activities, thus further raising their already high HDI, while poor residents of US Southeast will suffer in unbearable heat and humidity for most of the year, till finally deciding to take a long journey up north to the friendly shores of Hudson Bay.
I see it as in the ending of the original Road Warrior.
LAOC has a Fun Guarantee - If one course wasn't enough fun, you can do a second for free (provided the start hasn't closed and you come back by course closing). This is very common for White first-timers to take advantage of.
We label the Yellow course Intermediate and the Orange course Advanced. Above that is labeled Expert. People are more likely to feel like it's a significant accomplishment that way. It also makes it easier to attach first-timers to the appropriate course for whatever experience they have.
We also use Eventregister for all of our local events. Took a few events to get the kinks worked out and there are still some bugs we deal with, but it's been great.
Our biggest challenge right now is finding enough volunteers with the experience to course set. A lot of our long-time stalwarts are drifting away, and since our meets have gotten bigger, newer members are more intimidated about possibly "doing it wrong." So I'm doing a lot of mentoring right now, with new course setters taking on easier events in park-o type settings.
Our attendance is great during the school year, mostly with JROTC units. These groups provide ample day-of-event help, but it's not easy to grow long-term key volunteers from them.
For a while we often offered a Long Orange course, which was popular with Adventure Racing groups. But we're focusing more on our Youth League now.
And I have transitioned to being a paid meet director. The club pays me a fee to direct almost every event. Still use volunteer course setters as much as we can find them. This made possible partly because of a fee change we made a few years ago. We charge per person - not per entry, not per map (although everyone gets a map). If a group of four non-member adults goes out on a course together and rents an estick, it will cost them over $50 total. No one balks at this. We are still significantly cheaper than the typical 5K.
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