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Co-ops/activities- who gets to participate


ncmom2dawters
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I'm having a bit of a debate with someone about who can join some possible classes/activities being offered next year.  She only wants to offer there activities by invite ...she has to know the person or the person joining be a friend of a friend and be recommended.  She is on the board of our local support group where the criteria for new members is stated as open to 'friends and family' of members.   I've always been more open to posting an invite to local homeschool yahoo loops to see who God brings that has the same need, like mindedness, etc...    Are the classes, support group, etc... your family is involved with by invite only or open to families you may not yet know?  Which do you prefer?

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It depends and personally I think if you're an organizer doing leg work, it's up to you.  There is a HUGE advantage to knowing who will gel with your family and educational philosophy well.  I organized a tour to a major art exhibit in town for next week.  We're a relatively small group and I hand picked people to invite because I thought the ages of the kids would mesh well.  It's so easy to get a bunch of littles, and I have a 13 year old now he would be bored out of his mind if there were not a decent number of kids his age.  The thing about hand picking, is you have to be able to fill a class or group and make it financially feasible yet.

 

I also organized a field trip for next month to a local theater production.  I opened that one wide and have sold 71 tickets to families with kids of all ages and for that format, it's perfectly fine.

 

We go to a teen based co-op for ages 10+.  Most of the 10-12 year olds that take a class there have older siblings.  That is a self selecting group.  It also requires parents to volunteer to monitor.  Some parents don't like their kids reprimanded by other adults.  Some parents don't want to volunteer.  Some parents don't like teen behavoir.  They don't sign up or try it and drop out quickly.

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I only do field trips- and I refuse to invite, or add to my list, people whom I don't know.

 

I used to :-/

 

But people are flaky, and they sign up in droves for things and then never show up, or cancel last minute- also in droves. This goes quadruple when they don't know you personally.

 

By only inviting those whom I know, I make sure that they read and understand, and are reminded of, the rules (which I only had to create because of all the issues) which make sure that everyone is on the same page.

 

Now, I have almost no no-shows and very few last minute cancellations and our trips run smoothly and my time isn't wasted.

 

Now, if a close friend asks me if they can invite someone to a trip, I will say yes- as long as my friend vouches for them and promises to explain my rules about cancellations and being on time, etc. and explains the reasons why to the person. This doesn't happen often, but it does- but people only invite those whom they are confident are not flakes. Because they don't want to vouch for someone who flakes out, kwim?

 

The only group I was in that was an open free-for-all was absolutely awful. People constantly late, not prepared, unruly children, etc. which resulted in a handful of dedicated decent people doing all the work while dozens of families mooched off of their hard work while their kids created a hostile environment for everyone else.

 

I left that coop super quick and would never join an open invite "everyone show up" coop again. Ever.

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If a person is organizing an activity outside the cover of a larger group, like a coop, then the person is free to do invite only. If the person is organizing an activity as a larger group sanctioned activity then the activity should be open to the larger group (with appropriate age/academic/skill restrictions).

 

Here's an example from my local running club. There was a guy who used organize an addition hiking group on strenuous trails. He sent a general invite through the whole club, but noted the chosen hikes were VERY demanding. A few people who weren't in great shape (only did 3 mile runs/walks with the club) decided to go on the hikes and one was injured badly and another really couldn't keep up. These people complained, even though they were warned. Now, the guy who organizes hikes only invites a few people directly--people he knows can handle demanding trails at a fast pace.

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I'm having a bit of a debate with someone about who can join some possible classes/activities being offered next year. She only wants to offer there activities by invite ...she has to know the person or the person joining be a friend of a friend and be recommended. She is on the board of our local support group where the criteria for new members is stated as open to 'friends and family' of members. I've always been more open to posting an invite to local homeschool yahoo loops to see who God brings that has the same need, like mindedness, etc... Are the classes, support group, etc... your family is involved with by invite only or open to families you may not yet know? Which do you prefer?

In my experience, no matter how clear you are about the structure, topics, expectations, everyone *thinks* they're like-minded until they're involved and want it changed to suit their tastes.

 

I would be far more comfortable in a hand-picked group whose participants were selected for compatibility.

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In my experience, no matter how clear you are about the structure, topics, expectations, everyone *thinks* they're like-minded until they're involved and want it changed to suit their tastes.

 

I would be far more comfortable in a hand-picked group whose participants were selected for compatibility.

Exactly.

 

Or, they know they aren't like-minded, but hey- anyone can join- so they'll fake it till they make it.

 

Or they'll just ignore it and join anyways because they weren't able to abide by the rules of whatever group they were in before, so they are desperate to join another group- and maybe your group won't demand good behavior, or, maybe your group won't mind if a few moms drop their kids off so they can go "run errands" during the coop, or maybe no one will notice of your kids are 45 minutes late everyday- and maybe the other moms won't mind lending out art supplies week after week to their kids who show up with none.

 

You *never* realize how many shady, clueless, lazy, selfish people are out there until you have open membership to a group. In my experience anyways....

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Exactly.

 

Or, they know they aren't like-minded, but hey- anyone can join- so they'll fake it till they make it.

 

Or they'll just ignore it and join anyways because they weren't able to abide by the rules of whatever group they were in before, so they are desperate to join another group- and maybe your group won't demand good behavior, or, maybe your group won't mind if a few moms drop their kids off so they can go "run errands" during the coop, or maybe no one will notice of your kids are 45 minutes late everyday- and maybe the other moms won't mind lending out art supplies week after week to their kids who show up with none.

 

You *never* realize how many shady, clueless, lazy, selfish people are out there until you have open membership to a group. In my experience anyways....

Hmmmmm... Have we been in groups together? :lol:
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It depends on the activity.  Anybody can show up at one of our park days, but field trips and more involved events require families to sign up on our online calendar and, if applicable, pay via PayPal when they sign up.  There is also a penalty in place for those who sign up for an event and then flake with no good reason.  This is more of a problem on free events, but have become less so since we started really stressing in writing that we do not look favorably upon such actions.  The penalty is that they are blocked from future sign ups and/or removed from website access entirely.

 

Now, that's for the support group, of which there are about 200 members and which anyone can join.  The co-op is absolutely limited in membership, and closed for all but a limited period in which new members apply, are screened, and are either accepted or rejected.  There's a lot more at stake when it comes to a commitment to weekly parent-taught classes, and while the board does carefully consider all applicants, co-op is a limited resource to which an open invitation cannot be extended.

 

It's unfortunate, because I hate turning people away, but because we also offer open membership in the general area, there are opportunities other than co-op available to anyone. 

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We tried the invite-only thing this year and even that didn't work out.  We'd all been involved in a local co-op for years but sadly, the majority seemed less than committed.  Several of us decided to break off and start a small group of our own.  We only invited people we felt would be a good fit and who wouldn't quit halfway through the year.  Within weeks I could see that we were in for the same deal as usual.  One family was over-committed and always showed up late or not at all.  Maddening as the mother was the science teacher, one major reason we signed up.  Halfway through the semester, we changed the start to half an hour later.  Sure enough, people took that to mean an hour later...  For a person like myself who is always on time and ready to work, it was extremely frustrating.  By Christmas, one family decided to move out of town and another family quit due to financial needs.  That left us with three of five teachers.  And the kids that my dds were interested in socializing with gone.  At that point, I decided co-ops just weren't worth it anymore.  Too much humanity!  LOL!  Homeschoolers are notoriously late and seem to quit when it doesn't suit anymore.  The problem with that is, those who are committed get left juggling all the balls. 

 

The point I'm trying to make is, there's no perfect solution.  The grass isn't any greener either way.

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I also organized a field trip for next month to a local theater production.  I opened that one wide and have sold 71 tickets to families with kids of all ages and for that format, it's perfectly fine.

 

 

 

I was going to say, even in the case of this example, there is a due date for payment.  If you don't make the due date without special arrangement, you're out.  Once I have your money and pay for your ticket, I don't care too much if the people actually show up for the show.  I get there early and reserve my own seat, check people in who go seat themselves as they show, and go take my seat 5 minutes before show time.  The theater thanks them for their donation if they don't bother to show.  ;) 

 

There are other theaters in our area that require your entire group to be present before they'll seat you.  I will not arrange open field trips to places like that any more. 

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