Southern Colorado Marine Aquarist Society (SCMAS)
The Southern Colorado Marine Aquarist Society (SCMAS) was formed several years ago by a few guys in Colorado Springs looking to get together every month and have a good time talking "reef." The group has grown very much in the last couple years I think due to the very simple rules the club has set. To be a member one has to simply attend two monthly meetings within one calendar year, try to join in on our forum and help others. We started out with a very loosely organized group but one that had great leaders and a great membership advantage…No dues ever! We have never charged membership dues and we hope to always keep it that way. Our club raises money by having some great sponsors that donate to our monthly raffles and that's what keeps the club going.
At a typical monthly meeting we have around 30-40 members attend. We try to encourage our sponsors to attend from time to time and allow them to talk business and share any new news about their store and the things they sell. A monthly raffle table will typically have 5-10 bags of coral, some Seachem additives, maybe a bucket of salt, fish food and sometimes a book or picture of marine life. This method has worked great so far and members generously open their pockets up to support the club and in return they win some great stuff. We love to eat and some of the meetings have had some great food: we've done taco bars, pizza, submarine sandwiches and occasionally just do a potluck-style meal.
Our members each volunteer to open up their house for the meetings; we typically have a one year waiting list to get your house on the meeting schedule, it's been very popular! We've seen member's tanks as small as 10 gallons on up to 600 gallons.
In September of 2007 we decided we needed a website of our own to be able to give back to the sponsors and be able to post all of our club's information in one place. We created thescmas.com and it's been a hit ever since. Each of our sponsors gets their own forum: they can sell whatever they want in their forum, post pictures, sales, anything. In return they simply give club members a 10%-20% discount and donate raffle items whenever they can. Again this is done at no cost to them! We really like the free-is-better policy here. Our sponsor list has really grown this year due to the board members going out and actively seeking new sponsors, locally and nationwide.
Making Ourselves Known
The board has really been trying to bring its members new and exciting things this year. We feel that travel to bigger events such as MAX (Marine Aquarium Expo), MACNA (Marine Aquarium Conference of North America) , IMAC (International Marine Aquarium Conference) and others is really the key to staying on top. Four club members traveled to Orange County to setup a club table at MAX this April. Kevin Adams generously offered a free booth to the club and how could we refuse that? We had our club acrylic guy build a 24" square frag tank and one of our sponsors Extreme Aquatics donated a 400 watt Metal Halide for us to use. We setup a small tank and a few guys sold corals to pay for travel expenses. We knew having a bright coral sale tank at our booth would draw in the people, it really did work well! We also sold advertising space on a 30" x 80" banner that displayed the club logo and gave our sponsors a chance to be seen nationwide, the proceeds from the banner advertising space funded the rest of the expenses for the trip. So you can see we are always thinking of creative ways to keep the money coming in, getting our name out there and giving back to our sponsors whenever we can.
In October of 2007 we held our first official frag swap. It was held in a large garage and featured vendors from Colorado as well as ReeferMadness. We had three speakers at the event. Reef Nutrition was the primary sponsor and Randy Reed gave a great talk on reef nutrition, Kris Wray gave a great presentation on the workings of ReeferMadness and the Walt Smith operation in Fiji, Jake Adams (a SCMAS Member) gave a great talk on Atlantic stony corals. We had our local acrylic guy (Eric Drew) once again come through for us and build two 24"x96"x12" acrylic frag selling tanks. The vendors and hobbyist sellers simply showed up with corals and we gave them a large space in the tanks with heated water, lighting and the cost to them? Nothing. Are you starting to see the trend here? We also gave attendees free admission and even fed them a catered Mexican buffet from local restaurant La Casita.
In April 2008 SCMAS collaborated with Jake Adams to form "Reefstock" - a speaker/vendor/frag selling event in Denver Colorado. SCMAS members all pitched in and provided labor to help the event run smoothly. We did have to charge a small admission fee for this one since it was held at the fun and trendy downtown Denver hotel "The Curtis." This event had vendors such as Reeflo, Sera, Reef Nutrition, Aquamartonline, and feature a huge raffle with tons of items like a Dart pump, Seachem and Brightwell products, and much more. We had three great presentations from our guest speakers: Mitch Carl, Frank Burr and Adam Blundell. The club along with Jake plans to again hold Reefstock in early March 2009 at The Curtis hotel in downtown Denver. Look for details at www.reefstock.net .
Our club will be again holding the fall swap on October 4th 2008, this time the garage is out of the question due to the huge crowd we had at our first event. This one will be called "Fragstock" to tie in with the spring event "Reefstock" and will be held at the Crown Plaza Hotel Colorado Springs in the Grand Ballroom, a 2,400 square foot facility. We are concentrating on having lots of corals for sale and lots of drygood vendors this year. Having the event at a hotel really makes travel easy for the vendors and it's a place where people enjoy spending the day. For more information visit www.scmasfragstock.com
Looking towards the future, the Southern Colorado Marine Aquarist Society has incorporated to keep our club legal. We have also set up three committees: membership, special events and sponsors. These committees will enable non-board members to actively participate in decisions affecting the club. We are able to keep track of members that attend the required meetings. We have printed up really nice credit card-style membership cards with the member's picture, real name and screename on each of them. We have a special events committee working on booking guest speakers and setting up day events such as the "reef tank tour."
Some of us travel to shows like MACNA every year to further our reef education and we get ideas on how to better run the club by observing the large well-established clubs that run great events like MACNA. We have grown from a handful of members to having events with 100-300 in attendance. We look forward to growing and doing really fun things in the coming years.
For more information, please visit our website: www.thescmas.com/.
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