Pelican Lee, clerk of the Arrangements Committee, has prepared this evaluation of the 2017 Annual Gathering, based on feedback from 118 participants.
You can read the summary below or Download the evaluation Summary of the evaluations for IMYM 2017 (Word Doc, 18K)
Download an excel file of spreadsheets for each of the questions in the evaluation, giving all of the comments and a comparison to previous years’ evaluations, dating back to 2012. (Excel doc, 160K)
Pelican encourages people to read the detailed comments on the Excel spreadsheet. If you are unfamiliar with Excel, the tabs at the bottom of the document will take you to a separate spreadsheet for each question.
IMYM Annual Gathering 2017 Evaluations Summary
Prepared by Pelican Lee, Clerk of Arrangements Committee.
I encourage everyone to look at the ratings and read the comments on the Excel spreadsheet. There is much detailed information there that I cannot cover in a short summary.
This year 118 participants in Annual Gathering filled out evaluations, which represents 57% of adults who attended. An effort was also made to get SYFs to fill out evaluations and some did, but there is no way to know how many did so. Our total of 265 attendees is a decrease of 35 over 2016’s attendance, and a decrease of 55 from 2015’s attendance. This is our lowest attendance since at least 2011, and maybe much longer.
The ratings for housing were about the same as last year, which dropped considerably from the two years before that. Campers liked having the low-cost option on-campus. A geology group was in the campground through Thursday, occupying choice campsites that Friends usually have, forcing Friends to camp in more isolated spots. There were quite a few complaints about lack of cleanliness in rooms, especially floors and showers (including campground showers), which will be brought to the attention of Ghost Ranch personnel. With the lower attendance, Registrars were better able to accommodate those who needed to be on the lower level. Quite a few folks were very happy in both upper level and lower level housing.
Ratings for meals were lower than last year, more comparable to two years ago, which was Joey’s first year. There was praise for the breakfast offerings and the fresh and local salad greens. Not for the blandness and sometimes low quality of the food and a lack of friendliness from the Ghost Ranch kitchen staff. A number of campers did not eat in the dining hall because of the high cost of food that was not considered to be worth the cost.
Our youth programs continued to get lower ratings, like last year, than in years past. The Ghost Ranch college staff got the lowest ratings ever for both CYM and JYF. One comment, “The college staff were very young and inexperienced. They did not do a good job of being leaders for the children. It was a disappointment after the great staff of previous years.” CYM and JYF coordinators got higher ratings than last year. JYF and CYM weren’t well coordinated with each other when it came to scheduling things. The SYF FAPs got a higher score than last year, and the Listening Session was praised, especially the format of asking questions and getting input from the adults present, as well. YAFs got higher scores than last year in all areas.
The Schedule and Early Days got ratings that were considerably lower than all past years, but still in the “pretty darn good” range. Some felt that too much time was spent in Business Meetings, others that there wasn’t enough time. There was dissatisfaction that the Keynote was in the afternoon, as a lot of people were dozing due to the heat and full stomachs. Again there was some grumbling about not being able to afford Early Days. There was also much praise for the schedule and the clerking.
Although some said that Golf Carts and Accessibility were better this year, others couldn’t find golf carts when they needed one, especially to and from the campground. The drivers received a lot of praise. Many spoke of the difficulty in getting around Ghost Ranch for those with limited mobility. Quite a few people skipped Interest Groups that were held on the Mesa and at the Arts Center because of the difficulty getting there, especially in the heat. Also, holding the Campfire/Sing in the arroyo did not work for ones with limited mobility.
Orientation of Newcomers seemed to be a little lacking this year (with some good suggestions offered). Several missed having a buddy system.
Cost: Many people are looking forward to us trying Pay-As-Led next year. A number of people think Ghost Ranch is too expensive for what we get. Some appreciated the opportunity to pay full price. For some, the only way to afford coming is by camping, increasingly difficult with age.
Registrars received much praise for a very complicated job. On-line Registration was appreciated by many.
As usual, some felt that not enough time was given to Interest Groups, while others felt that there were too many. Or as one said, “Too few people doing too many Interest Groups.” Experiment with Light Meditation and Quakers, Business, and Money received a lot of praise. Location changes were confusing to many. For the question, “For those who did not attend Early Days, we tried a new schedule this year of repeating shortened versions of most of those presentations. In your experience, would you suggest that be continued?” there was general agreement that this is a good idea. This year there were Open Sessions scheduled, to give a chance for all requests for presentations to be honored. Responses were that they were not well publicized, the scheduled 15 minutes each was too short, and that they were in the Art Building was too far away for folks to get to. Others thought it was a good idea.
Although many people loved their Worship Sharing groups, it got a lower rating than usual. Some criticized the queries as not leading to deep sharing. Other groups created their own queries. Some WS leaders did not offer the leadership that was desired. A suggestion was made for a worship group for people who have a hearing difficulty, as then everyone in the group would understand the importance of making themselves heard.
The Keynote Speaker and theme got average ratings. (Past ones have been higher and lower.) Many people appreciated the theme and thought it was thought-provoking and well spoken to. Some would have liked a chance for questions and answers at the end of the Keynote, or an Interest Group with the presenter. Some wanted more spirituality in the Keynote and the theme. One comment about the Keynote, Interest Groups, and Worship Sharing was “To talk about matters of money without acknowledging there are differences in class was very difficult to me. It was if all Quakers came from highly privileged backgrounds and those of us who grew up poor or working class did not exist.” Another participant also had a similar comment.
Business sessions received lowest-ever ratings, but the comments were mostly favorable about our first-time Clerk’s clerking. More silence between speakers was asked for, and better discipline from those who spoke.
Our IMYM location at Ghost Ranch also received lowest-ever ratings. The lack of accessibility, heat, dust, bugs, and expense all were cited as problematic and reasons to move. Yet quite a few folks also praised the location and asked that we not move. On-site camping and the breath-taking landscape were cited as reasons to stay. Since Ghost Ranch is not accessible by public transportation, assistance with ride-sharing was requested.
Communication received lowest-ever ratings. Many folks praised the communications that came from the Registrars and others. Schedules, locations for, and changes of Interest Groups were hard to find, dining hall announcements were hard to hear, especially outside, the Daily Bulletin was under-used and confusing as to when a new one appeared, and a need for more posted information at the campground were all mentioned.
There were a lot of interesting and good Suggestions this year. Many suggested that we move, for various reasons. The Best part of IMYM for many folks was Worship Sharing, but also receiving a lot of mention was being with f/Friends, and the beautiful location/setting.
Arrangements Committee Clerk