Planning an ESC Gathering

An ESC gathering can be as simple as a potluck with time to socialize for both humans and dogs or as complicated as a multi-day event with a variety of activities. Some of the things featured at all ESC gatherings are: a place for the dogs to run and play; food to share; and lots of friends. Give yourself about six months to plan; this allows time to let people know about your gathering and get it on their calendars.

Hosts – most gatherings have more than one host. The main host, who submits the gathering to the club for pre-approval, needs to be a club member. This host will be responsible for gathering some data at the event, writing an article for the club newsletter, and submitting any receipts for reimbursement after the event.

Often one host organizes the venue. Additional helpers assist with planning, such as: communicating with attendees through email and Facebook, finding dog-friendly accommodation; organizing the fundraising; and assisting with setup. A club member, if possible a board member, should be available to talk with people as they arrive and to answer questions. It is good to have an NESR representative there too.

Event Name – usually this includes the geographical area it is being held in as well as the club initials and year. Example: 2020 Midwest ESC Gathering.

Location and description of property – locations have included: parks, beaches, homes, ranches, farms, and other facilities that accommodate dogs.

Depending on the weather in your area, you may wish to have a covered site, or at least a covered portion. You can arrange for attendees to bring shade tents and awnings if there is no cover at the site. You should also consider parking and accessibility. If your location does not have restroom facilities, portable toilets are available to rent.

If you plan to use a separate location, before or after the main event, for a campfire or picnic, please include this information in your application.

Rentals – Occasionally hosts desire to rent facilities or supplies (e.g. tents) for a gathering.  Rental arrangements should be at or below fair market value.  Should a host desire to rent from a “related party” (a family member) then the host must (a) disclose the relationship in the application and (b) demonstrate that the agreed upon rental fee is no higher than the rental fee to the public at large.  The Club recognizes and appreciates that rental arrangements with family members are often discounted to the Club.  All facility rental contracts will be executed between the Club and the vendor, and the facility rental fees will be paid directly by the Club up to the $250 reimbursement limit.

Club Sponsorship – the Club will reimburse up to $250 of your costs upon receiving your receipts and the data you have collected at the event. In order to be eligible for this option, you must share information at the event about the ESC (and NESR, if you have a representative attending) and write an article for the Shepherd’s Call about the event.

Sponsorship can be used to help with the cost of your venue, for rental of portable toilets, or for the purchase of supplies and/or food.

Data Collection  the ESC would greatly appreciate the organizers of any gathering collecting the following information from their attendees:

  1. List of attendees, including Name, State, ESC member (y/n), breeder (y/n/maybe in future), number of gatherings attended.
  2. List of items donated (if applicable) including donor, item, description, address if not a member.  This will enable the Club to send thank you notes.
  3. Accounting for items sold (if applicable) This would be for items such as t-shirts, home alone cards, bandannas, etc.

Educational Component – gatherings are an essential part of the club’s commitment to education and to networking for owners and breeders. The educational component of gatherings should both include and go beyond the sharing of information about ESC and NESR. Possibilities include: demonstrations, presentations, or instruction. Examples: T-touch demonstration; canine first aid instruction; talks by veterinarians or trainers; lectures on nose-work and conservation detection; SAR or police work demos; presentations on ES history; talks on NESR volunteer roles; Canine Good Citizen testing; breeding or farm work talks; question and answer panels.

Directions – you will need to have directions to your location available when you submit your application. For the event, it is recommended that you put out signage.

Fundraising – many hosts include an auction, silent auction, raffle, or other fundraiser. The club is a 501(c)3 organization and donations may be tax deductible. The club will send a receipt and a thank you note to contributors – please plan to submit a list to the ESC Treasurer after your gathering. An ESC sponsored gathering cannot benefit any person or organization other than the ESC or National English Shepherd Rescue (NESR). At gatherings where an NESR representative is present funds raised may be split 50/50 between ESC and NESR.

Flier – the club will advertise approved gatherings on the club website, in the newsletter, through the member email list, and on Facebook. It is helpful to have a flier – with the location, directions, and items to bring – for people to print. Options for nearby dog-friendly accommodations can be included. You may attach this when you submit your application. The flier should contain a reminder that participants will be required to sign a liability waiver and release.  You don’t want people traveling to your event if they are not willing to sign such a document.

Food and Drink – hosts and their friends often band together to provide a main dish. Cold cuts, sliced cheeses, buns, and condiments are easy to do and will meet the needs of most. If you want people to bring their own main dish please communicate that clearly. Have ice available, and plenty of drinking water.  Be sure that there is ample water for dogs in case their owners don’t bring their own.

Please Bring – include in your application a short list of items people should bring, such as: a potluck side or dessert; dog crate or x-pen (for dogs that need down time); shade; sun cream; bug spray; hat; towels (if there is water the dogs can wade or swim in); camp chair; dog’s own water and food bowls; poop bags.

Submit Your Application – with the above details decided on, you are ready to complete and submit your gathering application for approval. Write out your details ahead of time then go to ESC Gatherings / Event Requirements to fill in the online form.

Preparation  Decoration isn’t necessary, so keep it simple. Do pick a spot and have a nice backdrop set up for photos. Do as much of the set up as you can on the day before the gathering. It’s nice to have a sign-in table so that you can provide name tags, get signatures on waivers, and get the names and addresses of the guests per the above paragraph on data collection. Be prepared to deploy signage for potty areas, play areas, parking areas, no go areas, etc.

Miscellaneous – Have a first aid kit for people and pets. Be sure people know where it is located. Have a list of local vets and phone numbers, just in case. Have a map and directions ready should someone need to go to the hospital.

After the Event – Remember to submit your article and pictures for the Shepherd’s Call, your receipts, your data collection information, and any receipts from fundraising efforts to the ESC Treasurer for reimbursement or fill out the ESC Reimbursement Form Online.

Documents  –