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How to recruit friends on a beach getaway

Tracy Curtis
Tracy Lee Curtis
Tracy Lee Curtis is a humorist, writer and speaker. She writes family humor for the Charlotte Observer. Her column appears each Sunday.

It's hard to go the beach with another family. You gotta like both the husband and the wife. And the children have to match up genderwise, agewise, and preferably temperament, personality and behavior wise.

They have to have the same bedtime. And nap time. And then it all falls apart anyway because one kid has a bigger boogie board.

But I think I've found a way to beat the system. We met a family on the beach last summer. Then we rendezvoused this summer with a plan to meet again next June. And it occurs to me I might be on to something. A new way of going to the beach with a family. Recruit them once you get there.

On day one of your trip, set up a nice tent with extra chairs and cold drinks, then begin scouting for the perfect family. Narrow down your candidates based on the positions you're trying to fill. Ideally, you want everybody to have a friend. We went a little overboard with a three-generational family, but it'll be great if I bring my parents one year, because then they'll have a little friend to play with too.

Identify your target demographics and prioritize. Start with kids. Then confirm the husband watches the kids. Secure that, and then getting a mom with the latest Us Weekly magazine that you haven't read yet is just icing on the cake.

Let the kids be your icebreaker. Maybe they invite your candidates to build a sand castle. It's a nice lead in to an informal interview with the parents, where their resumes will be volunteered as they tell you where they're from and what they do.

Assess their beach personalities. We like folks who hang out. Joggers, sleepers and anybody with a BlackBerry are not ideal recruits. We want good conversation. And what are their goals for the week? Will they be spending time a lot of time on the beach or will they be off fishing the whole time?

Do they have beach experience? Do they have a tent and do they know how to put it up by themselves? Our recruit has the biggest tent on the beach and really nice beach chairs. And sometimes, a plastic pool for the toddlers. Last year they had a baby hammock and they even got a baby to take a nap in it. That immediately pushed them to the top of our list.

Incentives are nice, but don't be greedy. Our recruit has a pool at their house, which is a nice perk. The fact that they have a giant pontoon boat that they host booze cruises on while we leave our kids at their house with a babysitter is a HUGE perk, but we probably would have signed them without it.

Recruiting is the way to go. You don't have to live together or negotiate anything, no money is exchanged. And you get to keep the whole damage deposit.

Just show up, enjoy the company and then see ya same time next year!

Tracy Curtis: tracyobserver@yahoo.com.

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