How to work an Outdoor Club information table

The Outdoor Club regularly sets up information tables in the main quad to promote events. We do some by ourselves, some on Club Day with all the other clubs. (All this has to be arranged in advance, people can’t just set up a table whenever they want.)

Our biggest priority is always either

to get people who walk by looking interested to get out their phone and find/bookmark the club website,


at least take a photo of the URL we have on signs and then rush off to class and look at the website later. (Or if they don’t have a way to photograph it, write down the URL.)

If you have time to prepare, read the trip webpages and/or trip agreements before answering questions, or else get someone who understands the trip to answer questions. Get someone who understands the trip we are promoting the most to show you the pictures on displays that best describe the trip so you can point out things to people.

If you are inexperienced with how the club works, you can let other people answer questions. Be willing to say “I don’t know the answer to that, let’s see if someone else does” instead of making up things or guessing.

If you bring a daypack, do not leave it sitting out on or under a chair. Put it under the table, behind the large banner we have at the front of the table. Even if you think you are keeping a watchful eye on it, when we are busy talking to people, someone who thinks you have an expensive calculator in it could walk by, pick it up and walk away with no one staffing the table seeing it happen.

Examples of things to not say:

A volunteer at one table told people we would be camping on the beach on a Sunset Beach Park camping trip, but the campground is not on the beach, and a potential camper could be disappointed when they arrived and found they wouldn’t be camping/sleeping on the beach.
Plus, someone might give the faculty person or trip leader trouble during the trip when they were
told they couldn’t sleep on the beach when they got there.

A volunteer once told people we would be snowshoeing across Yosemite Valley on a winter trip. The Ranger snowshoe walk that we can go on is at Yosemite Ski and Snow area (Badger Pass ski resort), not in the valley, and that’s a BIG difference in scenery, and a big potential letdown.

Yes, people can go skiing on our winter trips, but you have to make it clear it’s something they do on their own. People signing up for a cheap trip have actually been unclear enough to expect we’d pay for skiing.

Don’t tell people we do things that we don’t always have the time to do.

Sometimes we email members, especially when we need help for a table or other project, but we don’t always have the time to do this, so don’t tell people we’ll keep in touch with them. Tell them that they need to check our website regularly to keep up on new things. (A member complained that we hadn’t been calling him – someone had told him we would.)

When people say they’d like the club to do a trip to XYZ or….

don’t make them think that their idea for a trip is a sure thing. Trips take more work than most people realize. We have to convince a faculty person to go on each trip. Some trips are unlikely to be okayed by risk management. Some are just too much money or too exotic to attract enough people.

Have respect for people who approach the table.

Someone may not look at all like a camper to you, but don’t talk down to them. Almost everything the club does is set up for beginners and we’ve regularly had people who’ve never camped and never even seen snow on our annual winter trip. (One table volunteer talked down to a middle-aged woman, telling her she would need to do workouts to be able to participate in kayaking.)

Table staffing should be, at a minimum:

one experienced person sitting behind the table to fill out forms and take money, and a second experienced person standing on the other side of the table, near the main photo display, to be able to talk to people who actually walk up toward the booth.

Most extra people working the table need to be outside the booth talking to people.
Sometimes we try to talk to practically everyone, sometimes just if people seem interested. It is especially great when we can get people to get out their phone and find the club website.

It is a waste of time to just sit at the table and expect people to approach us…… they won’t.

You don’t have to talk to everyone. If someone looks ornery you don’t have to approach them. If you personally know someone, and don’t like them, you don’t have to invite them to join us.

It’s also effective to work in pairs, one guy and one girl, to try to talk to groups of people who are
standing around in the area, or in the cafeteria, etc.

Want to really waste time? Stand around talking to friends in the club instead of trying to work the crowd.
It’s especially a waste when people approach the table, look at the display pictures and then walk off without even a hello, because the table staff was busy talking to each other.

You can get an education about the club by reading:

Outdoor Club Basic Info

Outdoor Club Coming Attractions

and you should read details about the trips that are upcoming.