With the rise of hammocks coming into popularity as of late, many people are wondering how to start a Hammock Club of their own. And while the UF Hammock Club have really hit it off in their inaugural year, some hammock clubs across the nation have run into some push back, concerning safety and sustainability.
But in the midst of the craziness, students and hammock fanatics have still gotten outside to put up their hammocks between trees, in apartments and anywhere conceivable.
So how do you start a Hammock Club? What are some key factors to getting one going? Allow me to shed a little light on how we started here at UF!
To begin, let me tell you a little bit about how we originally started (before we were even official)…
After my first introduction to hammocks on a camping trip to Payne’s Prairie with some friends in Cru (the largest campus ministry at UF), I quickly jumped on the hammock train and got myself my own double parachute nylon hammock. With my new hammock and friends who owned hammocks, we set out to gather weekly on campus between classes to relax and spend some quality time with one another in the most comfortable way possible.
And with such a goal in mind, the group ‘#EnoTrunkTuesdays’ was born, named after the main two hammock brands that we owned: Enos and Grand Trunk hammocks. Of course the Tuesdays part was just due to the open afternoon schedule that seemed to align with our small hammock group of 8-10 each week. Over time, as we pushed our social media presence with the hash tag #EnoTrunkTuesdays, and spread word of our group in person, hammocks were gaining more attention at the University of Florida.
So that brings me to step 1.
1) Start small, spread word, and start hanging out (literally) with your immediate friend group.
Once you’ve established a small following (no, not a cult), work on making a few events gathering like-minded people. Friends will invite friends, who will invite other friends, and on and on it goes. You get the idea!
And this is where proper event planning comes into play via social media management.
2) Build a social media presence.
Without a doubt, make Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter your best friend. Come on, if you’re aiming to gather people and stay on top of public relations, enjoy being able to say that being on Facebook is your job. Because it is! (Yay!)
But seriously, the UF Hammock Club didn’t come to be without a constant social media presence. Through social media, you can showcase what you all are up to while making connections with (hammock) companies and other bloggers.
Once you create a media presence and events (we use Facebook), invite anyone and everyone. Have no shame in inviting them. We’re a community after all. Don’t let anyone miss out! And that being said, interact with your audience. Start following others, like their own hammock photos. Comment on pictures you find interesting. Share tips, tricks, and advice with one another.
Make it an online community. One thing I always believed in was having a proper relationship with your audience (within reasonable boundaries of course). Don’t let your group/company/whatever just be a large group that seems too large to care for the ‘lesser people.’ (Not to say anyone is ‘lesser’ than anyone else) But be intentional with your audience. Interact with them and answer questions and concerns in a genuine and respectful manner.
Once an event has been created, don’t hesitate to spam the event page with updates and information. People forget things so easily nowadays. A little notification or reminder never hurt anyone! Hype up the event and encourage more participation from the event goers!
Once your event happens, be sure to share with the world how it went! What I’ve found working best with Facebook brings me to my third point.
3) Photos, photos, photos.
Take lots of photos with a good camera. Don’t own a camera yourself? Invest in one, or find a friend to help out with event coverage!
Photos are the most interactive form of media that has done wonders for the UF Hammock Club.
Through photos shared on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, we have made connections with various companies including Grand Trunk, Eno, and bloggers such as Hammock Town and others just like them!
So how do you build an event? What kinds of events do we do? That comes down to one thing.
4) Planning for days
I say planning for days both in a metaphorical sense, and also in the literal sense. A great event is nothing without proper planning. When planning your event, take time to bounce ideas back and forth with a close friend in leadership. Consider all that could go wrong. Consider weather, sponsors, companies, legalities, and back up plans. Work on garnering attention and creating simple incentives to get people more involved. It’s a family. It’s a community!
Some of our events have been combined with sporting events! Whether we’re tailgating before a football game, or playing a game of ultimate or trashcan (see the American Trashcan Association), combining your hammock event with a sporting activity can open the doors to a whole spectrum of people. The sporting activity brings out the athletic students, and for those that are more reserved, hanging out in hammocks become the perfect way to enjoy the company of one another while watching the game take place.
Once you’ve had a solid foundation of students to take part in the club, work on getting all the paperwork filed with your school or university (club constitutions, faculty advisors etc) to become official! As you all get closer to your goal of becoming a club, start designating leadership roles and spreading the workload. Managing any kind of club or organization is difficult and should not be tackled alone!
So for my fifth point,
5) Clearly define roles and spread the responsibility
With proper wisdom on how to spread responsibilities, and with good communication (Yes, that life skill that’s always stressed to you), the club can start to see growth in its events and in its membership.
Some positions to consider include…
Social Media Content Coordinator
Student Ambassador (to spread word of the club to students and companies)
Of course, getting enough people to commit their time to the club in various positions may be challenging, but the more positions filled by A-Type students, the better. Truth be told, the UF Hammock Club has many positions that have yet to be filled! But don’t lose heart, press forward and own your hammock club!
6) Get out and meet people! Help them join in on the hammock craze!
Spread the word, spread the love, and engage others in the hammock community.
Don’t be shy! Go and meet some new hammockers! You never know who you’ll meet! Maybe you’ll make connections with a journalist for the local or school paper! Making those key connections can greatly increase your amount of exposure locally!
So gather your friends, pack your hammock and camera and get outside to explore new paths!
Happy Hammocking my friends!
UF Hammock Club President 2015-2016