JEROME • When my father, Bill Trappen, announced in January that he wanted a family reunion in honor of his 80th birthday, my sister and I shrugged, sure we could pull it off. No sweat.
Boy, were we wrong.
Yes, we pulled it off, but not without a lot of help, many hours and, yes, even sweat. The payoff: On Saturday, upwards of 100 Trappens, spouses and children will gather at 1000 Springs Resort for a first Idaho family reunion.
“My family had talked about having a reunion for years, but it never happened,” said Jerome-raised Bill Trappen, now living in Fallbrook, Calif. “I’m 80, and getting old. I don’t have that many years, so I figured we’d better do it now.”
Planning began with the formation of an eight-member reunion committee that included three members from Idaho, two from California and one each from Oregon, Colorado and Florida. Many of us had never met, or hadn’t seen each other in decades.
Sunday morning conference calls brought together our ideas.
We entered the project with basic thoughts about planning a reunion, much of it gleaned from websites. In hindsight, we should have created a step-by-step, connect-the-dots guide to steer us beginning to end.
Some things we did according to website recommendations. Each committee member took on a task, or in some cases, several tasks. Scott Trappen in Twin Falls, for instance, handled the selection of the reunion site and finding a good caterer. Others volunteered to do accounting, nametags or creation of Trappen family T-shirts and hats.
Getting the word out to family members was an ongoing priority. The committee relied on mass emails, as well as postings on a private Facebook page. Here, family members also posted pictures, old and new, along with family lore.
The glitch: Some folks, especially older family members like my father, weren’t on Facebook. We bugged our dad until he finally signed up, but some relatives never did. And we weren’t sure whether everybody had a computer and an email account.
The budget created one of the committee’s largest challenges. We aimed to keep the reunion cost per person as small as possible. Based on initial estimates, we placed a $20-per-head charge for adults, $10 for children. Now, of course, as expenses mount, we wish we had created a bigger buffer.
My sister, Monica Trappen Saporito, was our reunion chairwoman and spent many hours sending out endless information, both in emails and on Facebook. She also kept Sunday conference calls on track and diplomatic — a challenge sometimes, given the many points of view.
My father and I focused on family history. Several times I sent out a questionnaire, asking relatives for basics like birth date/place, marriages, careers — but only about one quarter of Trappen descendants responded. I had hoped for more data, to pass on to future generations.
Dad, on the other hand, compiled genealogy, a formidable task given that original Twin Falls settlers Nicholas and Margaret Trappen had four children, each now representing a family branch. Using an Ancestry.com program called Family Tree Maker, Dad created a gargantuan tree that’s now professionally printed on a 15-foot-wide vinyl banner. It will hang on a reunion site wall, for all to see and make corrections and additions.
In coming days, Trappens from all over the U.S. will arrive in the Magic Valley. Yes, the reunion committee knows a few things will no doubt go wrong. But we also know that people bound by blood will hug, reminisce and laugh no matter what.
“I’m really looking forward to getting together with old relatives, and meeting people I’ve never met,” said Bill Trappen. “The fact that the reunion is being held (near) Jerome is really special.
“It’s like coming home.”