The Rally Challenge

The decision was made last week to cancel the 2015 Indian Nations Rally. Instead, the club will focus on smaller events this summer and attend the Central Oklahoma (OKC) chapter’s campout in Talihina this September.

Indian Nations RallyIt was three years ago when I suggested to a skeptical club that the Indian Nations Rally should be resurrected.

And there were plenty of reasons to be skeptical. It had been almost twenty years since the Northeast Oklahoma chapter had organized a rally. In those ensuing years the roster had shrunk, potential rally sites were less plentiful and liability insurance costs had greatly increased. Yet the small group gathered around the table was willing to listen, so I kept talking.

I suggested that a rally would generate good publicity and bring new people into the membership. Plus, we had a great site called Greenleaf State Park. Eventually they capitulated, and the 2013 edition of the Indian Nations Rally was held during the first weekend of June. About 125 people attended. Several rallygoers remarked they had never known such scenic beauty existed in Oklahoma. It was a success. It was also a whole lot of work.

But the club came out ahead. Soon a core group of club members were working on refining and improving the process. The first order of duty was to select a date for the next year. This is where things started to go awry.

rally-stoogesThe rally site in 2013 was the Group Camp area at Greenleaf. This facility was originally part of the park, but since World War II has been managed by the neighboring Gruber Army Base. All reservations are handled by the Army, and all reservations are subject to change should the Army decides they need the facility. Unfortunately that’s exactly what happened to our 2014 date. And again. And yet again!

At this point we decided to change the venue for 2014 (albeit still in Greenleaf State Park) and eventually moved our weekend to the fall. We did not have the spacious showers or professional kitchen provided by the Group Camp. But we reserved portable toilets and began contacting caterers. This second rally attracted about the same number of people, but costs increased substantially.

So Here We Are
The challenges of organizing a rally takes a dedicated group of folks willing to work their butts off. Don’t get me wrong, NEOBMW has that core group. In spades! But there have to be new members recruited into the ranks to assist the core group, and avoid the dreaded Volunteer Burnout. And my dreams of growing the club membership to share that burden never materialized.

There are a slew of factors that have made growth challenging. And it’s not just us- organized clubs in general are becoming a harder sell. Fewer people are “joiners” it would seem. The Internet also fills a void for technical knowledge, a void many people once relied on a local club for. Plus, we’ve seen two new BMW-MOA chapters formed in our vicinity recently.

Finally, we have the problem of decreasing demand. In recent years the general trend across the country has been fewer people attending rallies. Blame it on the weather, everyone is too busy, people don’t like to camp, whatever. Multiply this by the increased number of Weekend Getaways offered by the MOA and you have a lot of activities competing for people’s free time. Last time I checked, my number of weekends hasn’t increased.

So for now you can mark our rally off your calendar. But hopefully, in one form or another, we’ll be back.

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