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Q? and A! s (continued)

Q?
Diana Burkhart, Mount Vernon, Ohio, organizer of the Wolford Family Reunion, poses some interesting questions. "How do I get more people to attend the reunion? It is dying and may not continue much longer. This will be the 64th year."

"There is a conflict about where to have the reunion. Many want the reunion to be in Shelby, Ohio, which is where the majority of the Wolford descendants live. About four or five years ago we decided to have the reunion in Mount Vernon, near George and Phebe Jane Wolford's homestead where reunions were previously held."

A!
It is fundamental to decide where the reunion is going to be. How about alternating between the two places; one year in Shelby, the next in Mount Vernon?

Q?
Ilse de la Puente, Vogtmann Family Reunion, asked how one "gets local businesses to help sponsor a four-day family reunion."

A!
The only way we know is to ask. Carefully fashion a letter about your reunion, list the benefits of your reunion to the businesses ... why they would want to be involved with your reunion. Include a bit of reunion history, what's special about your reunion and about your family. After writing your letter, find out who at the company would most likely make the decision. Either ask for an appointment or send a letter with a request for an appointment. In any case, you must write your request to leave after a meeting or to mail. Then, carry copies to replace in case their copy gets lost or misplaced. It is essential to follow up with a phone call about a week later.

Q? Sharon Hill, New Orleans, e-mailed: "I just recently found your web site on reunions. My family and I are having our first annual reunion in Western New York. I am not sure how many people will be coming yet. My sister very kindly volunteered me for the game selection for adults and children. Our family isn't very large - about 30 people. There is only one elderly person, probably eight people between 40 - 60, eight children under 20 and some babies. I do not have children and am at a loss for games. I would like fun games and not too complicated, not too much preparation or props. I live in New Orleans and will have to transport any items that will be required. Unfortunately, I am starting late so need to get right going with ideas."

A!
You're right! You're starting late. You don't say how long the reunion will be and for how long you need to entertain people. Are the games for everyone or just the kids? What facilities do you have at your disposal? Swimming? hiking? museums? touring? Check back issues; particularly summer issues for ice breakers and kids' stuff. Ask someone you know who is an elementary teacher for ideas to entertain kids. Check your local library (probably your best bet at this late date). Is there a genealogist or family historian? Any historical things for everyone to enjoy? Any ethnic items to include? Do you need to consider weather? Hiking in good weather? Museums in bad? Hope this gets you going. EW

Q?
Renita Wigfall e-mailed:" I'm in search of a poem or story to be read at my family reunion. I am seeking something rather profound. Any suggestions?"

A!
Sorry we don't have anything specific but would suggest you dig deep in family legend or tradition to find your inspiration.

Since we know nothing about the family you're speaking to, we suggest that you look at what their interests and concerns are. The future? Their strengths? Their creativity and determination? What inspires you? It will probably inspire your audience as well.

How about saluting special family members? The oldest and youngest ... not the usual prizes but something about each: the history of the oldest and the future of the youngest. Or salute the achievements of family members old and young; who's learned to walk or graduated or gotten an award or honor?

Something from your favorite book or author? the Bible? Shakespeare? Robert Frost?

If you question your family’s enthusiasm, perhaps you should concentrate on humor and leave ‘em laughing. There must be lots of funny family stories.
What are your favorite family memories? Share them. Get others thinking. Pose questions for members to contemplate. Challenge them. Charge them up.

Q?
Dave e-mailed "Where can I find a place that sells genealogical games for family reunions?"

A!
Great question! I think there are some family history games in regular stores; Generations, LifeStories, Reminiscing. Questions and Ancestors can be ordered from Conestoga Book Service, Box 7, West Willow PA 17583. Or make up your own games – word games, crossword puzzles. Make a list of questions about family history – it's a great way for kids to learn about their ancestors.

Check online genealogy book stores. Maybe www.familytreemaker.com will have some information in their online magazine's regular reunion columns. See our Activities page for games too.

It's not specifically about genealogy, but try Adrienne Anderson's book Fun and Games for Families.

Please let us know what you find!

Thanks for causing me to think!

Q?
Kevin and Kelly Mansberger wrote: "This year at our family reunion my mother-in-law and I have the adult games and we are in need of some new ideas that a group of older family may enjoy taking part in as well as the younger members. Open to any ideas that you may have, and looking forward to hearing from you – thank you!"

A!
What are everyones’ interests and considerations?
Are they athletic? Have tournaments of golf, softball, volleyball with medals for the winners, of course.
Are they sedentary? How about board games: use your favorites.
Are they into the Fourth of July games that are silly and keep everyone laughing? Sack race, three legged races, water-filled balloon toss.
Are they into family history? Make up family history trivia. Questions that everyone can answer, questions that can probably only be answered by some, questions for specific and all ages, questions that will illuminate, educate and intrigue.
Are they adventurous?
How about a treasure or scavenger hunt?
Was that what you had in mind?
You didn't mention genealogy games specifically, but there are some family history games in regular stores; Generations, LifeStories, Reminiscing.
You probably can only get Questions and Ancestors from Conestoga Book Service, Box 7, West Willow PA 17583.
Visit our games or make up some of your own – word games, crossword puzzles.
Also check Adrienne Anderson's Fun and Games for Families; probably in your library.

Reunion advice
Dear Abby dispenses advice to a reader whose husband refuses to attend a family reunion because he doesn't approve of his mother-in-law's choice of a decades younger boyfriend. The reader hasn't seen brothers, sister, nieces and nephews for six years and wants to go. Abby advises that the reader tell her husband he'll be missed, but she will attend anyway because as adults we should not judge, lest we also be judged.

Submit your solutions!
I was recently in Flint, Michigan, for a meeting with reunion organizers presented by the Flint Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB). What a delight!

The concerns of reunion organizers, I find, are universal. These are reunion topics I hope to develop some dialogue about ... and encourage your input if these are issues you deal with. Everyone battles the financial monster: how to pay for the reunion, how to raise money to help pay, how to be affordable for members on fixed incomes. In Flint many families reported having auctions, raffles and white elephant sales for which all members donate items. Many were concerned about raising money to pay for reunion space, food, activities and scholarships. Others order t-shirts and souvenirs or develop a cookbook or make a quilt to sell. Everyone was very interested in corporate gifts which require careful planning and a well conceived and written letter.

Another dilemma faced by most organizers is how to involve members in their late teens and 20s who seem to fall away from family activities during that time. One woman reported that her family always includes a strong contingent of young committee members. The "kids" have a say in the program so it will attract younger members (dancing, shopping, hanging out, parties). A pair of young twenty-something cousins stopped to talk with me about their reunion, which, because they decided to invite another side of the family, were told they should organize the whole reunion. They were a positively determined pair whom I know will succeed. (Also see "How to involve the hip hop generation")

What always impresses me at these occasions is how dedicated reunion organizers are. How eager to learn about new ideas. One audience member mentioned a fairly simple game that was described in one of our earlier issues. She was asked over and over to explain by people who were writing copious notes for themselves. Reunion organizers are wonderfully generous with their ideas, suggestions and willingness to share.

If you're thinking about a reunion in or near Flint, Michigan, I encourage you to contact the Flint Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, 519 S. Saginaw St, Flint MI 48502-1802; 810-232-8900. They have an impressive list of services to assist you.

LOOKING FOR AWARDS AND PRIZES?
 Adria Lopour, Colorado Springs, Colorado, is thinking way ahead for fun prize ideas for a 20-year high school reunion. She feels this is a part of the reunion that could really use some help because "Our first three reunions were BORING."
  She searched the web and found a few great ideas but wants lots more. When she asked, we said we'd ask our readers for suggestions-but only if she shared the ones she's already collected. These are the ideas Adria already has, plus appropriate gifts for these awards.

Most gray hair
Least hair (prize: a comb)
Most changed
Farthest traveled
Most kids (prize: a bottle of aspirin)
Lives closest to the school (prize: a world map)
Most dangerous job (prize: a will kit or visit to local attorney)
Most recent baby
Lived in the most places
Most recent grandparent
Most or highest degrees (who couldn't stop going to school?)
Most eligible
Most exciting or interesting job
Classmates who have served in the military

If you know of any reunion organizing events, please e-mail us. EW

 

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