This week we had an awesome time teaching Fire Craft. Participants walked away with new skills, higher confidence, and honed skills. All made rescue fires in under 4 minutes, learned how to use a fire for cooking and purifying water, started sever kinds of fire tinder, and whipped their tools into shape. All earned their Fire Craft Skill Award badge we were happy to provide.
One point did attempt to overshadow the experience for us.
“No-Shows”. People who simply didn’t bother to let us know they weren’t coming or emailed us an hour prior to start time. Five people kept five other people out of the class. We pack our classes pretty quick. One thought is that its easy to cancel a free class. They have nothing invested and have nothing to lose in it. This is troubling when we not only sacrifice time for other things we could do, but also food cost, material cost, time to set up and prep the area, time we spend harvesting materials, etc. It is disappointing when we set up for several to show up, and half the class simply blows it off.
This has caused me to really weigh the value of what we provide, take a hard look at our structure, and make some tough decisions. It is still my position that our get-togethers, cook-offs, Christmas Chili Feed, and other social events are still free .
Based on feedback from several participants, we have an opportunity to make the classes more convenient and provide an incentive to follow through on a registration. To keep our classes at low cost to the participants, we had them pick up their own materials. MoraKniv, Light MY Fire fire steel, water purification tabs, etc. In some cases participants get wrapped in the frenzy of finding the best deal, running all over town to get the right item, or bringing the wrong item to class. We think we can bridge the gear gap and make it workable for all parties.
Going forward, we are going to add an activity fee. This will cover all equipment and supplies needed for the workshop. For our Anorak Class we will buy wool blankets, thread, needles, etc and include it in the fee. Fire Craft will be a Mora, Light My Fire, and wood, etc. You walk away from the class with cool new gear and we ensure participants have a little investment in the class. If you are a no-show or cancel then the equipment is donated to our kids camp. The course fees will be the exact amount of material cost and not a penny more. Come to the class and the gear is yours.
We have tried to keep fees low for participants and no fees for our Trail Crew and supporters, however Melissa and I can’t keep subsidizing people with materials and certainly when they don’t show. We feel this is the fairest route.