I have once again taken the plunge and scheduled a Northern New York Gathering in July. July 19th, 2008. A Saturday night. I learned a lot from last year and I'm hoping to be more simplistic in my approach this year but I doubt it will turn out that way. So here's what I learned and how I doubt I'll be able to apply it.
1. I learned that I can't BBQ. I decided to provide hot dogs and such for our potluck since we were in a nice park with a pavilion and BBQ grills. But I shouldn't have. I should have just let people bring the stuff and eat what we had. I think it took too much time away from mingling and exchanging. So this year, I'm having the gathering inside a restaurant and charging people for dinner. While I'm not sure how the "cost" will affect attendance, I'm hoping to keep it low so people don't feel overwhelmed. I also now feel the pressure to make sure the gathering is enjoyable for everyone.
2. I learned that I need to mingle. I'm a bit in the "shy" department so mingling is a real challenge for me. But it was a small gathering and I should have made more of an effort to be a more social-able hostess. This year I still hope the gathering will be small to make this easier for me. I also hope for return attendees that I feel comfortable approaching; so far I don't think it will be a problem.
3. I learned that night boxing was the "draw". I'm not sure if it was the fact that so few boxers get to night box or if it was just some great people willing to take a chance but I received such great feedback on the night portion of the gathering last year, that I decided to just focus on that for this year. Why have a gathering in the daylight if we're gonna night box? So I decided to just get people together in the evening, have some exchanges and dinner, chit-chat, then off to box! What could be easier?
4. I learned night boxing takes much more organizing than day boxing. Last year, the night boxing thing took a good portion of my time. I checked and rechecked the trail, I walked that trail every week it seemed to make sure it was "do-able" after dark. At one point, I thought I had lost a fire tack which threw off the whole "count" on which my clues depended! It turned out pretty well considering all the fuss I put into it. Creating an entire trail of night boxes was not easy. So I figured since it was greatly appreciated and the night boxing really intrigues me with it's unique challenges, I would still do it again this year. This year, I'm hoping to make a trail that is sort of an "intermediate" level. Those that came last year, can do something new and different and those that didn't can try either trail. This years trail will be in the same area but I don't intend to fire tack the trail. I'm going to try to make one box visible from the last box. So if I just start people on a trail, they will follow the actual "boxes" as the trail.
5. I learned to let boxers box the way they want. I think in my effort to be efficient I infringed on the way boxers like to box. Boxers just need a clue and they do the rest. They like to be efficient and get as many boxes as possible with as few steps as possible. Post clues or provide them and boxes will be found. I think this year will allow boxers to "box" the way they want to. Since I'm having this gathering inside a restaurant, it cuts down on how many boxes will be "right there". Instead, I am providing a walking tour of the surrounding streets for boxes. So after having some chow and some exchanges, boxers can get out and box.
6. I learned not to carve everything myself. I put out word on the AQ boards for donations of stamps so I don't feel overwhelmed with creating boxes in a short period of time. I got enough responses so that I can just add a few logbooks and discover some new hiding places. The only thing that bothers me about this approach is feeling an augmented sense of responsibility. If MY box goes missing, no big deal. If someone else's stamp goes missing, I feel awful. So the pressure is on to find GOOD hiding places.
So as this progresses I'll see how well I've learned my lessons.