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I've never gotten a permit draw and iam pretty new to boating and trips ect...I got a permit and I invited so and so and so and so and so and so forth till I thought I had invited the total allowed number. THEN..so and so said we cant and so and so said we cant then I invited others then they said wait we can but now were not 2 anymore were 3 and on and on and on UNTILL , when the smoke cleared, I over invited and got the reall un pleasant opportunity to say oh sorry you cant go cause so and so and blah blah. Wtf! Now I have people who are truly hurt by me "being a dick" cause they cant go and they never even answered my texts or emails. Untill I find a good group or as I try and BUILD one how does a guy get this done with it not making a drama. You cant say yes no yes and be upset. Yes you would need a boat and some wool socks. I wonder how on earth you guys organize a Grand Canyon trip!! And how to get people to commit and know that there spot could be a missed opportunity for someone else if they cancle? I dunno iam just stressed that people are dumb and iam really dumb so that's bad. You guys have plans for a sign up that doesnt make it weird?
 

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Here's how I do it: I have an email list of all my rafting buddies. Send out an email with everyone BCC'd to avoid the dreaded "reply all" scenario. Email states that I won a permit for X river on Y date and that I have Z spots open. First Z people to commit by sending me a deposit (usually I do enough to cover the permit cost and a percentage for food) are in. If you committed and now can't go then you don't get your money back unless I find someone else to take your spot.

I haven't had any issues with this method yet.
 

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I do it the same way, non-refundable deposit unless your spot is filled with someone acceptable to me AND the rest of the group. As long as you are up front with your trip criteria I have never had too many problems. May seem kind of harsh but it winnows out the fence sitters.

I keep bank account just for trip expenses, easy to set up at a credit union for minimal cost. Makes trip funds easy to handle and provides a record.


I find as time goes by I have less tolerance for special interest people and usually boat with a select group of non-drama people that I know and trust.
 

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Smaller groups make for better trips

After decades of trying to coordinate groups with all kinds of issues and problems, we have finally realized that we are much happier traveling alone or with just one other couple. Yes, it means we have fewer people to split the permit cost with, but it's well worth it to avoid all of the BS along the way.

Personally, I wish the river gods would make the number of people allowed on a permit just 12 or less. When I run into bigger groups, it is almost always unpleasant to be camped (or rigging or unrigging) anywhere nearby them. And by the time a group gets to 25, you're pretty much guaranteed it'll contain a loud-mouthed dick or two, which effects everyone's attitude.
 

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Most of the time I have a problem it is with friends (non rafting), Family. Neither one of either group are capable of making a commitment. Rafting friends are much easier to trust. The first to send money gets to go always helps, unless it is friends (non rafting), Family. Never do phone planning, e-mail only. Inviting rafters always works unless there is a drought or pandemic going on. I feel your pain. Once a trip heads south, it is usually very hard to turn it around.
 

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You cant say yes no yes and be upset. Yes you would need a boat and some wool socks.
Exactly. Don't feel bad. TL has to make tough decisions sometimes. I looooooove not being TL.

Every TL has a different way of approaching trips. I've learned the firmer I am up front, the smoother (and more kicked back and drunker I can be) water time goes.

Once permit is full, I send an email out to the confirmed roster, with clear instructions at the END of the email (because some people don't read the whole thing) that that requires them to reply back to me with a "fuck yeah!" or something of that nature within 72 hours of receiving the email. No reply, kicked and back ups are invited. I value communication and time, and if I'm taking the time to put the trip together, invite you, and cover the details, then the least you can do is read my damn email.

Also on that email, is venmo/paypal info. Once costs are determined, pay prior to trip, prior to deadline. I'm here to have fun and get on the river, not collect a half dozen debts...

google sheets are your friend, especially with a payment tab showing who owes/is owed what. No one wants to be the last person owing..
 

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I start out with a fairly short list of invitees to see who of my "high priority" contacts are interested. That list changes with every trip depending on what river, anticipated level, desired group size, and other factors. I like to go with smaller groups and make it clear that first to commit has priority. If I still have room a week or 2 after sending out initial invitations, I invite a few more at a time until I have enough confirmations to feel full. I never go with a full permit and am usually open to adding someone at the last minute if it is the right person. If anyone responds much later and is hurt that the invitation is no longer open, I suspect they don't really belong on the trip or are at least not very experienced at this whole deal. I've had people disappointed but never pissed. And I've experienced the same when I don't make someone else's list. I've also learned to never be angry at someone for not sending me an invitation. You never know what the group dynamics and constraints are.

I started out taking the invitation thing way too seriously, taking too many people, and feeling guilty if someone wanted to come but didn't make the cut off. I've worked past that and still have at least some friends and no enemies that I know of as a result. I think the key, as with most things in life, is to be fair, open, and honest in your communication.
 

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Nothing dumb about finding out how different folks do it all. There's lots of good advice in this. Personally I identify a lot with what Paulster says above.

Other important things are:

  • Get your organizer game on and before you even start inviting people, set up a spreadsheet, Google doc, or other kind of written record for the trip that you can track invitations and commitments with, also who's bringing what, meal assignments, payment received, etc.
  • Keep track of who you invite and how many slots you allot each person. I usually plan for each rafter to bring at least one other person, more if it's a family, etc, or give a kayaker a certain number of slots for a yakker crew, etc.
  • Send out invitations asking for "yes, no, or maybe" responses ASAP. Some folks are definitely in, others definitely out, and some have to check into things before they can respond. Get the yesses and no's out of the way first, then move on to inviting others as needed and holding spots for the maybe's,
  • After you send out the first round of invitations and are ready to start filling in your back-ups, preface further invitations with "I MAY have a couple of spots on XXX trip... Should I count you in, "yes, no, or maybe?" This lets folks know it's a tentative invitation and helps you manage expectations while keeping options open if some of your first invitees drop out, and spots open up as the trip draws near.
While it's a bummer to hear MaryB's point, it's understandable and happens. One really key thing to do is to either 1) know everyone you're boating with really well, or 2) to make sure the trip vision and expectations are shared with all when inviting. For example, let folks know about what kind of trip you want ahead: "chill, kid-friendly trip," or "it's gonna be Class IV water but we're going to be mellow in camp, with early to bed and getting on the river early in the am," or "we're going to party 'til we puke and my brother will want to practice his guitar chords and sing the 3 songs he knows off-key by the fire."

Other things that help:

  • If everyone's on communal meals, when assigning group meals, give an estimate of how much per person to meal crews have to spend ($5 for breakfast, $5 for lunch, $15 for dinner) etc.
  • Delegate meals and group gear to folks. Being TL is enough work without being the main workhorse,
  • Track how many rowers, kayakers, and passengers you'll have, make sure there's room for everyones' gear and provisions, and make sure that any rowers are aware and OK with it if you're planning for them to carry that non-boating friend you want to bring along.
  • If you need / want kayakers to play a safety role, make sure that's expressed up front and aware it's a condition of coming on the trip, also make sure the rowers know the trip may be stopping to hang out at key surf waves, etc.
  • Make sure you've got an experienced core group of safe and competent boaters coming and keep this in mind when inviting newbies.
  • Make sure everyone's aware of the river stipulations - the main things are usually the need for group staying together and when PFDs are required,
Shared vision for the trip is usually most important.

Good luck!

-AH
 
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Exactly... I looooooove not being TL.


google sheets are your friend, especially with a payment tab showing who owes/is owed what. No one wants to be the last person owing..
The google sheets doc linked above is gold. Social pressure motivates. Adding a waitlist to the roster also helps create more social pressure to make people commit.

This system also works for bachelor parties.



-"Reply is not the same as reply all"
 

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hmmm not if your the permit holder/TL. If I get a permit I ALWAYS defer to others for that leadership role. Always easier to be humble than to stand out......
 

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I use this Google Sheets doc that a prior Buzzard posted years ago. Works great for trip planning.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1qJFjyZoJPcPAuNU6j7yMNKVa4btuSz8LTgMMZ0WkBOo/edit?usp=sharing
Great minds or combined effort? This Google Sheet strongly resembles the one I created years ago. It was shared freely. Maybe it has morphed over the years into the one you linked. If so, I'm happy to know some of my efforts have been assimilated into this community planning tool. Cheers!
 

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Kayaking is always less complicated.
lol. Not every rafter needs slide rules, pocket protectors, spreadsheets or therapy sessions to do a trip.

Last Fall, a MFS cancellation came up for the next week while visiting my Dad...

“Hey, Dad, wanna go float the Middle Fork next week?”

“Hell yeah!”

“Cool. I’ll see if bro wants to go,too.”

Seats filled, shuttles booked, flight chartered, hotel rooms reserved...all in about 1 hour.
 

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lol. Not every rafter needs slide rules, pocket protectors, spreadsheets or therapy sessions to do a trip.

Last Fall, a MFS cancellation came up for the next week while visiting my Dad...

“Hey, Dad, wanna go float the Middle Fork next week?”

“Hell yeah!”

“Cool. I’ll see if bro wants to go,too.”

Seats filled, shuttles booked, flight chartered, hotel rooms reserved...all in about 1 hour.
Cool story bro.
 

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Thanks,dickhead.
Aren't you just a fountain of disappointment. Once again contributing nothing except rudeness to a reasonable thread.

Guy never gets a permit and gets excited to invite friends once he does. Now he has more peeps than spaces.

And you start putting people down for planning larger than three trips at the last minute.

Good for you. Seriously. Glad you got on the river last fall. It's a really special place. Not sure why you have such a shitty attitude about somebody 'planning' a trip, but you keep being you.
 

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Great minds or combined effort? This Google Sheet strongly resembles the one I created years ago. It was shared freely. Maybe it has morphed over the years into the one you linked. If so, I'm happy to know some of my efforts have been assimilated into this community planning tool. Cheers!
I searched for the original owner of the google sheet however could not find him/it. There is a name attached to the form, Brian Davies. If that's you well thank you so much. If not and you were the original begginer of the sheet again thank you so much. I have used this template so many times. Works great and I hope others find it helpful.
 

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Charlie, congrats on your permit! Hope you have a great time.

First, I HIGHLY recommend this book for first-time trip leaders. 80% of the content applies to all multidays and not just the Grand.

https://www.amazon.com/Boating-Grand-Canyon-Private-Boaters-ebook/dp/B07PPY1C83

Second, it’s YOUR trip. Invite the people YOU want to spend a week with. You’re in a bit of a spot now because you didn’t set up clear expectations before inviting. Oh well, next time. Here we are.

If you had friends who invited others, tell them you had over-commitments and their friends are maybes.

If you have non-boating friends, tell them now you’re tight on seats and that they are maybes.

If someone committed late tell them you’re over-committed and need to confirm everyone from the first commitment forward and will get back to them.

Then: confirm someone who is a solid boater and who has most of your group gear and has been a trip leader before. They can be your assistant trip leader. If that single person doesn’t exist, find a couple people who can fill those spots—maybe one is your dialed buddy who is the on-river leader who brings his share of group gear. Another is the friend who gets along with everyone and has the trip leader savvy that nobody will fight her decisions (this person is most important if you’re delegating control).

Next: your CLOSE family with whom you want to share the trip.

Get deposits from them to secure their spots. If no deposits, start filling Important slots from the maybe sheet.

Finally, fill in with the people who are most likely to harmonize with the rest. Tell the rest you’re sorry that word got out so quickly and that more people wanted you commit than expected. Leave it SHORT so they have fewer words to pick apart.

Do this SOON. You don’t want to be as rude as the people who we’re slow commits. Be a model of diplomacy and prompt communication.

If people are still pissed, it’s probably easier to find out that personality trait sooner than later. Remember, it’s YOUR river trip not the Catholic Church. Leave your guilt behind. You acted with pure motives.

I hope you have a magical trip.


I usually boat with a select group of non-drama people that I know and trust.
So valuable to find that non-drama group!
 

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To the Op:

When I send out an 'invite' I usually don't call it that. I will say something (in a group email or text) like "Checking in for Possible Spots on a River Trip" and add exact dates when people need to show up, rig, shuttle. I do mean exact dates in this format. "Rigging will happen Tuesday June 9th and we will launch on the river Wednesday June 10th. Leaving the river on Tuesday June 16th mid afternoon to allow some drive time."

Then add something like "I need to hear back from you in the next two weeks. Pick one of the three levels of commitment and if I don't hear back from you with one of those you are off the list."

In a couple of weeks ( or a month ) I'll send an update of who's in, who's trying and the ones that I haven't heard from, can only assume can't make it.


The three levels of commitment are:

1) Definitely down for this trip. Where do I send my $100 to hold my spot and what else can I do?

2) God I would love to go, but I have to try to move some things around. I am working to make it happen.

3) It's a long shot, but might work. I would still like to be on the list for now.

It can be really fun to put together trips, even big trips. Congrats on the permit.
Your list will sometimes change really fast when you ask for that financial commitment to the trip. Wheat from the chaff or something like that.

One thing I try to do especially on the larger trips is to invite the newbie. Someone that seems pretty cool, but maybe doesn't know anything about rafting. Or have rafted but have no idea how to camp down the river. Some of those folks are so appreciative. Makes me see the river with new eyes too.

Good luck.
 
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