Originally Published: Tuesday, 9 May 2000 Author: Kara Pritchard
Published to: interact_articles_lugs/Articles Page: 1/1 - [Std View]

Keeping LUGs Active in Summer

This time of year (especially in the U.S.) many LUGs see a large decrease in LUG activity. It happens every year, and every year we hear LUGs asking 'what happened?'. "Have we lost our edge?" "Have we lost our leadership?" "Have we lost our audience?" "What did we do wrong?".

"Maybe" "Maybe" "Maybe" "You forgot it's summer".

Keeping a LUG active during the summer.

This time of year (especially in the U.S.) many LUGs see a large decrease in LUG activity. It happens every year, and every year we hear LUGs asking 'what happened?'. "Have we lost our edge?" "Have we lost our leadership?" "Have we lost our audience?" "What did we do wrong?".

"Maybe" "Maybe" "Maybe" "You forgot it's summer".

A majority of Linux Users Groups across the world are centered around Universities, or contain a majority of members who are students. In May, US Universities, High Schools, etc people are finishing finals, graduating, and going home. These activities have a huge impact on a good number of LUGs.

Without the large numbers of mass Linux users, many LUG administrators get discouraged, feeling less of a need to put together presentations, less of a need to hold regular meetings, and even less of the urge to put together public events. In some cases the LUG administration themselves are students, or faculty who are going home for the summer, vacationing, or relocating to fill future opportunities. These LUGs sometimes get caught up in the excitement of the new events, and forget about what the LUG will do when the administration are gone.

I think it is extremely important to not let your LUG fall victim to the summer itch. It's extremely important to make sure your LUG is established outside of your University. You need to expect that your audience is going to change from year to year, and that the volumes of people will change from meeting to meeting, semester to semester, season to season. Don't let your LUG start focusing on attendance instead of presence.

I don't think LUGs and their administration are the only ones affected by the summer itch. LUG members who go home for the summer or who are vacationing sometimes put attending LUG meetings off their day planners because they're not in school anymore, or they're hours away from the meetings. 9 out of 10 times, these people have other LUGs right in their area and don't even know it! Perhaps they didn't look, or their local LUG didn't bother advertising outside the University.

Keeping your LUG active.

There are a number of ways to keep your LUG active in the summer. Don't be afraid to do something non-traditional. It's ok for your techie LUG to do social activities. While munching on some pizza, or hanging out at a local hot-spot you might suprise yourself talking more about Linux (or your UG vice of choice) than you ever did at regular meetings.

Keep a regular meeting schedule. If you met every 1st Monday, still meet every 1st Monday. New members outside of your clique are going to be counting on that. If you only get 2 members, who cares. Don't cancel the meetings. It's your presence that's important. Just do something you can do together. Work on a project, start putting together events for later that year. Whatever you do, just be there. Sure enough, the first meeting you cancel, a group of people from an hour away are going to carpool to meet up with your group, and you're not going to be there. Your LUG has to be reliable.

Visit other LUGs! Roadtrips can be a bore, but during the summer more people are vacationing and taking roadtrips than ever before. There are few areas (if any) that don't have more than 1 LUG within a day's trip. Set up LUG dates for your LUGs to get together and do something fun, entertaining, and as always, educational.

Come up with a summer project. More kids are active in camps, day cares, youth organizations, and schooling projects in the summer that need your guidance and leadership than any other time of the year. Volunteer in the computer labs, or set up a youth mentoring project. Volunteer to redo a school's network while they're out of session, or help set up a beowulf cluster for the local junior college. Adopt A Highway could even be fun. Wouldn't it look great to see one of those road signs that say "Adopt a Highway program - Hwy 1 - Linux Users of Foo". That could be a great way to advertise :)

Participate in local fairs. Every summer hosts hoards of fairs, carnivals, sales, and other types of community events. Become a sponsor. Exhibit something fun that contributes to the show, but is controlled by something techie (how about a cotton candy machine that's fed by Lego Mindstorms over wireless network connectivity from a server located in a store down the street which is hosting a webcam of the street event hosted over the internet?).

Keep talking to your vendors. And vendors, keep talking to us! Just because you went home for the summer doesn't mean our friends from VA or Linux Journal did. Don't let your vendor relationships fail during summer months just because one of them decides to go honeymooning in Tahiti. If it takes the freebies to get people out of the pool, don't hesitate to get a good supply.

I think if you keep any type of activity up during these upcoming months, you'll find it easier to transition into your active fall months, and probably be even bigger than last year. Remember, that some of the most active LUGs in the world are some of the smallest... It's all about what kind of mark your LUG leaves on the rest of the community. Make it a big one this summer!