It is difficult to even arise at a title that can describe the challenge and importance of creating a Belegarth event. For me, saying that an event is the lifeblood, the heart, or even the soul of Belegarth seems understated. And although coordinators both love and (also hate) their own events more than anyone else – the importance of an event to the whole community is far more reaching. A good event showcases the best aspects of our community, galvanizes realms to improve and grow, turns new fighters into veterans, the neophyte into the devout, and lastly gives all of us a feeling of belonging. Since we are all a bit of escapists here – I think you can see why events are important. But, how do we create that special feeling, that place of alternate reality where we can play our game for a weeklong or weekend getaway?
The answer is to remember why we are here: we are here to have fun with friends. One of the most difficult things for an event coordinator (EC) to do is to keep their cool in situations that you NEVER thought you would encounter running an event for (technically) adults. Somebody peed on your tent, vomited all over the porta potty so you lose your deposit, spilled beer all over the… well… everything? These inconvenient realities take time, money, and make it difficult for staff or volunteers to keep their cool, but the difference between a good staff member and a great one is how they deal with these inevitable upsets. But, if you remember that YOU, your friends, the people with poor control over bodily fluids, and even people you won’t even meet are all here to have fun – then you can remember why you volunteered your labor to help with this epic quest of misadventure: You just want everyone to have a good time.
The secret to running a great event is to have happy, welcoming people that help make the whole thing happen. From the most senior EC to the random volunteer who picked up trash after feast – it takes the whole community to make an event happen, and it is the whole community that benefits when we all come together. Whether you are staff, a volunteer, or just an attendee, remember that everyone is here to have fun and act accordingly. People helping with the event should be kind, understanding, and helpful to others – the community is too big for us to know all of each other. So when you help someone who asks for something, you don’t know whether it is a first time attendee or a grizzled veteran from a different game. However, all people deserve to get help when they need it – doing otherwise is a disservice to our great community. Is it difficult? YES. Tell yourself, staff, and volunteers – this is a customer service job, and everyone is expected to do their best to be welcoming and hospitable. If you, your staff, and volunteers do this you will be helping many, many people have a wonderful event. Every good deed that all of you do will have a ripple effect of kindness and hospitality that will permeate the event and give it that special feeling we all expect.
If anyone had ever wondered why Battle for the Ring has had any success in growing these years it is largely because we have tried to instill this philosophy into our staff and volunteers. That is not to say that we haven’t had staff that have lost their cool (usually me), but even that is something that should be met with understanding so that we can move on and continue to work towards helping others have a good time. This philosophy of hospitality first can benefit events of any size and can be extended to how you run your realm as well. The effects of this philosophy in action set the tone of an event, which we often find sets the tone of practices back home, and peoples’ general enthusiasm for the sport as a whole. After a good event, people are eager for the next, they can’t wait to improve their garb or start getting period camping gear; maybe they will start getting in shape so they can fight like the honorable fighters that they look up to. All this post event excitement lets you know you threw people a good party and that’s why I think events are the soul and lifeblood of Belegarth.
Nothing will ever be perfect. This is the hardest thing for an event coordinator to realize and accept. Some of us plan our events year round, so when things don’t go “our way,” it is easy to see how ECs and staff can feel disappointed. But honestly, if everything went according to the plan we probably wouldn’t need coordinators in the first place. An EC’s job isn’t just to make the plan that takes into account all of human nature as it really is, but also to fix the problems that could not be foreseen, and to do it with smiles. So if someone pees on your tent, remember to have lighted pathways and more porta-potties placed for next year, and hey… at least you will have a funny story to tell others over a drink and well-earned break. That is what it means to be a great event coordinator.
Never forget we are here to have fun. Lead by example to show your staff and volunteers how to courteously make an event hospitable and welcoming to new and old players. Remind volunteers we need them with their best attitudes or we don’t need them at all. Help those that ask for help without condescension, but rather truly seek to make someone else have a great time. Be patient when things go wrong, because they will, and it is everyone’s’ job to make the best of it. Learn from your mistakes and plan ahead next time, and of course if you follow this philosophy, plan ahead for more people too, because they will probably have a good time and want to bring more friends next year.