This is a topic the is taking up a lot of my time, waver, insurance, vaccination card, Social distancing, masks........and of course the inevitable " I can't wear a mask I have a medical problem", along with the moral issues that go with putting on a major event with Covid still active.
I really believe that a lot of people that have never been on the front lines of running a star party - one with registration fees, program and speaker logistics and their coordination, contests, raffles, housing issues, parking issues, vendor coordination, etc., etc. - have no real concept of what is involved. For most of us it is a labor of love. Admittedly in many ways it does become easier over time because we have learned how to do it, we know what works and what doesn't and we have learned how to anticipate problems simply because most problems are not unique, they are repetitive.
In many cases profit margins are thin. Many (but not all) star parties are break even events. The primary purpose is not to make money for the hosting organization, the primary purpose is to make the star party an enjoyable experience for the attendees. In doing this a line or two from "Star Trek - The Wrath of Khan" comes to mind - "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few (or the one)." Some may leave a star party in some way feeling that they were slighted, they were disappointed, etc., etc. I am sure this is true at almost if not all star parties. Typically these are the people that want to have everything their way at a star party. Be it a primo spot on the field, the best bunk, the most perfect weather, etc., etc. and they want to do things the way they want to do things. They rationalize that what is best for them should be ok for everyone else. These are the very people that concern me most when it comes to following reasonable rules for the betterment of all, particularly last year and this year. These are the potential attendees that can make a reasonably safe experience something that is less than ideally safe.
So how to we fix this, especially now? Information, information, information. We have to spell things out. We have to let people know what to expect and what conditions will be like. We especially have to let people know that while we can issue weather forecasts leading into a star party, we cannot guarantee that the weather forecast will be correct all the time. The attendees, especially the new ones that may be attending a star party for the first time have to be informed as to what to expect and what we expect of them. I am sure that more than a few of you reading this that are part of star party management have had to play star party policeman (a job I really hate to do) to inform someone that they cannot do what they are doing and the behavior or action has to stop immediately. Examples of such have included -
1) Someone arriving late and setting up a telescope in the dark using a florescent shop light to do it. Must have been a member of the Bonehead Club.
2) Multiple times having to stop someone from using a green laser pointer or finder, in spite of this being clearly spelled out in the rules.
3) Someone calling ahead and wanting permission to drive in late after dark. Make an exception for me. Sorry, no can do, unless it is completely cloudy.
4) Someone coming into a private bunkhouse to use the bathroom facilities instead of going to the general bath house to which they are assigned. (This one is especially important in 2020 and 2021.)
5) Someone going up to an unattended telescope and either looking thru it, or trying to move it without permission or knowing anything about it. Are the clutches locked, is it doing a photographic run, etc., etc.?
And the list goes on.
No wonder there are concerns about liability insurance.
Perhaps a bigger concern is when that labor of love becomes just labor.