Well, here we are, just a few days away from the beginning of what will prove to be our largest event yet, and there is still so much to do!
In case this was not made clear in previous communications, we are all volunteers. We put together these events because we believe in the Grand Design family, we believe in the camaraderie that comes from rally gatherings, and we believe in the friendships built at the fireside. Those of you who have been to our previous events know that there will ALWAYS be wrinkles – sometimes we can iron them out before anyone notices, sometimes you just gotta go with the flow and adapt.
We had to make an important decision this year – was it worth holding the event, considering all the things we would have to change just to pull it together and still maintain the right level of safety for our participants? We believe that we made the right decision, betting that our experience, the commitment of the Bethpage team, the support of our volunteers, and the patience of the attendees, would win out and still prove to be a good event. We are working on the finishing touches – getting as many of the wrinkles worked out of the process as possible.
Why do we bring this up? Well, this event is meant to be fun, but we don’t know it all – if you have ideas, suggestions, or the hankering to help, let us know, we are always open to new ideas (we may not be able to do anything with them RIGHT AWAY though, but we will send out a survey after the event to collect your thoughts and feedback).
With the event so close, it is important that we go over some important guidelines and rules.
**************************** NO TICKETS WILL BE SOLD ON SITE ***************************
Prior to Arrival
Please pre-map your trip before you leave, as there are several GPS platforms that will send you to the Bethpage creamery/mini golf instead of the Bethpage main entrance. There is nearly no room to turn around, especially if more than one RV is in the creamery lot at a time, so please be careful. IMPORTANT: If you look at the Creamery on a satellite map, it will look like there it a road directly from the parking lot into Bethpage. This is a mirage. What you don’t see from space is that road is gravel, bumpy, and has locked gates at both ends. The address you want to ensure you are headed to is 679 Brown’s Lane, Urbanna, VA.
With so many folks coming in at the same time (on Wednesday alone, we expect 120 arrivals), it is important that we get through the gate and to your site as quickly as possible. After checking in at the guard station, you will be escorted to your RV site, where you can back in and get yourself settled in. Once you are parked, please send a member of your party to the Ops Center, located on the map that you will receive in your welcome packet. This map is also available for download at the top of the schedule site at http://www.gdmarally.com/rally2020/schedule/.
Checking into the Event
Once you have your RV set up, please send ONE member of your party to the Ops Center (designated as #1 on the event map) to check in to the actual event itself. When you arrive at the Ops Center, the registration process will be marked by signage, and will be split into 4 lanes, designed by the FIRST LETTER OF THE LAST NAME OF THE PERSON WHO BOUGHT THE TICKET. Please help us by maintaining social distancing in close quarters. You will then receive your registration packet and your swag bag, and will have the opportunity to sign up for any volunteer positions at the Volunteer desk. From there, you are all set – the administrative stuff is complete!
50/50 tickets as well as raffle tickets can be purchased at the registration station during check in or periodically throughout the week at different activities. Physical donations to Fisher House (like lap blankets, toiletries, etc.) can be placed in the bins at the registration station as well. If you would like to make a financial contribution, please do not leave those in the buckets, see a Wagonmaster or other representative to ensure the safety of your donation.
Golf Cart Etiquette
As you might imagine, a lot of people drive a lot of golf carts, and tend to park them all over the place. There will be 1 or 2 spots reserved for operations staff (so we can get in to help with equipment, medical emergencies, etc.) but there always be more carts than formal cart spots. At the Group Rally Center, there is parking both in front of as well as behind the building (but the only entrance is in the front, so you will have to walk around). We ask that you please do your best to carpool (golf-cart-pool?) were possible just to make it easier for folks to get in and out as necessary. To help with the congestion, we are working on a tram schedule that will help get folks around in bulk easily and quickly. We are also working on GUBERS (Golf cart Ubers) for high-traffic times.
There are more attendees than available golf carts, so if you see someone who looks like they need a ride, please extend that courtesy provided it can be done safely.
This has been mentioned in previous messages, but it is critical to point out – you won’t be able to participate in any of the activities without your wristband. They are soft plastic, waterproof, hypo-allergenic, and have a permanent clasp that will prevent them from falling off very similar to a waterpark wrist band. At the end of the event , simply cut them off and throw them away, but while at the event, you must wear them at all times. This is because Bethpage has a very high population of seasonal campers, and that wrist band is what shows us that you are one of the members, and that you are allowed to enter. They must be worn on your person , on your wrist (left or right). If you lose your band, you will need to get a replacement from the Ops Center and will require ID to get a new one. If you attach it to your lanyard/name badge, that will not be accepted, and then you will have to go get another one – not worth the hassle.
Staying up to date with changes
Since there are so many people this year, it is not feasible for us to print paper schedules – we would be decimating small rain forests for something that can easily be posted online. To that end, the most up-to-date schedule will always be online at http://www.gdmarally.com/rally2020/schedule. If you forget that long URL, on the back of your name badge is a QR code – if you take a picture of that with a smart phone, it will open up the schedule in a browser on your phone for you. We have been unable to complete the text-message announcement system in time for the event, so unfortunately, this will not be an option this year, but the daily morning announcements will help cover any changes that you may not have been aware of.
There are two different kinds of activities at this event – some are “official” meaning they are run by the event team, and some are member-hosted. The distinction is somewhat important – the member-hosted are exactly that – someone has stepped up and is donating their personal time, resources, etc. to put together an activity they want to share with everyone. These events tend to be more intimate, and can be hosted by anyone who wants to have one. The official activities are the ones that will be formally supported and staffed with the entire group in mind. Examples of this would be the seminars, opening/closing ceremonies, etc. Events in both categories will be listed on the event schedule.
The official activities will be staffed by the organizers and volunteers at three primary locations – the Group Rally Center (GRC), the Field Tent (aka Checkpoint T-Rex), and Far Tent (Checkpoint Raptor). The GRC is an indoor location, meaning it will be limited to 200 people (per VA Dept of Health mandate) inside the building. If folks leave, we can allow more in to replace them, as long as we stay under 200. Once we reach capacity, we will need to direct you to either one of the two tent locations, or to the online live stream. The links to the live streams will be in the online schedule.
Online Videos/Live Streams
It is our intention to live stream the events to YouTube so that folks can view the content as it happens, or at a later time when it is more convenient. However, this is dependent on having a fast enough internet connection to be able to do so, which is entirely out of our hands. In the event it is not possible to do so live, we will record the session and post it online as quickly as possible, hopefully by the end of that day. Please understand that no other rally has done this before, so we are breaking new ground here, and we are likely to experience issues – just know we are going to bust our tails to make it work and make the sessions available to as many folks as possible. Each session will have its own stream, and that stream URL can be found on the Event Schedule under “Location” for each event.
IMPORTANT RULES REGARDING COVID-19:
- We are required to abide by Virginia Executive Order #63, which lays out COVID response criteria, to include requiring masks when entering structures, and limiting the size of the groups inside these locations. This will apply most directly to the Group Rally Center, where we will be limiting attendance to 200 participants, and properly fitted face masks will be required for entry.
- We understand that there are many different opinions on COVID-19, facemasks, etc. We cannot afford to get anyone sick, and we cannot afford to be shut down based on those opinions. The current law dictates the amount of wiggle room we have in its interpretation (NONE), so we will enforce them in the indoor areas. If you are not willing to abide by the indoor face mask requirements, you can still participate in the seminars from the tent locations.
- If you are exhibiting symptoms, we reserve the right to refuse your entry into event activity areas until such time as we can ensure the safety of everyone. Again, this is not a matter of opinion, this is mandated by the Virginia Department of Health, so bear with us, we really are trying to do the right thing here. We will assist anyone who may need assistance in getting in touch with the right health care providers.
- Indoor event venues will be designated with signs indicating entrance and exit. To ensure that everyone has their wrist band, and to help minimize contact between folks, we will allow access to the Rally Center through the front door, at the top of the ramp on the right only. All other doors will be locked from the outside (but able to be opened from the inside as required by fire code). When you arrive, you will go through the front doors, and when you depart, you may use any of the other exit doors. We are just trying to create an easy flow of people so there are as few traffic jams as possible.