I stayed up too late last night, working on an Excel spreadsheet of high school classmate data. Next week, the invitations for my 30th high school reunion will go out; the event is scheduled for October 27, 2012.
I’m not having any nightmares about the reunion. We’ve got a good volunteer committee and we’re going to keep things simple in terms of location, food, and music. In fact, our 30th Reunion format will be similar to our 25th and 20th reunions.
There are only so many ways to plan events like weddings, reunions, and fundraisers. Putting the words “how to plan a class reunion” into a search engine produces results similar to searching the words “how to lose weight.” There are a lot of generic sites which sell “reunion planning workbooks” and products. There are also small businesses with names like “Reunions 4 You.” They promise to do the work so classmates can have fun. A few of these “planners” also double as private investigators. Many “reunion planners” are loosely linked to a non-profit group called “The National Association of Reunion Managers (N.A.R.M).”
I’ve been to N.A.R.M’s website, their blog, and their Facebook fan page. I’m not going to link to these sites because they’re poorly written and generic. N.A.R.M doesn’t update their blog or Facebook fan page very often; I don’t know if they ever gave away the iPad 2 they were offering to people who “liked” them on Facebook.
Like many businesses trading in human emotions and dreams, the dim shadow of “the snake oil salesman” hovered in the corners of each reunion planning web page and hyperlink I visited. They weren’t quite real and it was difficult to find the name of a flesh and blood person connected with the enterprise. The sound I heard whispering from these types of businesses was:
“We’ll do all the work so you can party like it’s 1999. And it will only cost you $29.99 per month.”
Breaking news: It’s not 1999 and no amount of magical thinking is going to make things happen cost-effectively unless a few people get together and do some work.
I have respect for professional event planners; I know a few. I’m happy to promote the ones I know because they do good work. They put their names on their web sites and they respond to e-mails. They’re not afraid to get their hands dirty.
For the Lisbon High School Class of 1982, it’s “back to school” time. Through the technology of the internet and Facebook, classmates are pitching in and helping to locate the missing. Not everyone will go and that’s ok. It would be wonderful if every classmate could be there, but that would be magical thinking and that’s not what we learned in high school back in the early 80’s.
Here’s to dirty hands, Lisbon Greyhounds, and good times! No magic needed.