Mobilizing these people (plus parents) cannot be undertaken lightly.

Twenty-four of us were at a family beach reunion, enjoying the sun, the water, and each other. Suddenly, an impulse to Do Something ran through the family like a stomach bug during the holidays, indiscriminately afflicting some and leaving others (inoculated by sanity?) untouched.

A family outing is always a challenge. There are emotions to be skirted, roles to be avoided, children to be corralled against their will. In the end we prevailed, with a minimum of psychic wear and tear – and without a child left behind. (The one who kept announcing “this is painful and not fun” got lucky.)

Here are some guidelines for you to consider when your extended family is contemplating a group emotional journey adventure:

1). It’s best not to hatch a plan at night after several margaritas have been consumed. This is a time-honored tradition, but it also provides for maximum confusion. The same holds true for families where too many members are distractedly dabbing aloe on their sunburn splotches, or secretly plotting strategies for Carcasonne. Everyone’s full attention is a must.

2). Try to uncross the signals quickly over breakfast. Otherwise various family members will have departed for morning exercise routines, remote parts of the ocean with their surfboards, or in clandestine search of better coffee.

3). Expect a paradoxically relaxing morning. Ignore Guideline No. 2, because, frankly, it can’t be done. There are just too many people. You’re not going anywhere for a while. Passing the time by commenting on the sun’s ascending path in the sky is acceptable as long as you maintain a tone of bemused affection. Remember, a statement like “Wow, it sure is gonna be hot,” is not necessarily provocative; “This is nuts” is more problematic.

4). Expect some discord. Nothing gets the juices flowing like a spirited discussion over seating arrangements in the cars.

5). Plan ahead. Allow for extra time to be spent waiting for the cheap sunscreen with the consistency and tint of melted butter to dry. This is time you should spend packing snacks or even lunch. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

6). Know that the activity with the widest appeal and lowest cost will be located at the greatest distance, thus ensuring maximum discomfort in terms of heat and hunger when you finally arrive. Embrace this. As one of my brothers-in-law put it, “What’s the point of a family reunion vacation without an outing to be endured?” It wasn’t exactly a Henry V “band of brothers” battle cry, but the message was similar: the worse it gets, the better the tales spun later will be.

7). Be flexible. If you forget to pack food, or pass by multiple eating establishments on the road in search of “something better,” do not sneer at gift shop ice cream sandwiches for lunch. Now is not the time for parenting achievement awards.

8). Remember, the bar for success is very low. If only one child is crying as you pull out of the driveway, you’re off to a great start. Two couples rolling their eyes at each other adds to the overall entertainment index. If you spot only three alligators in the swamp, that’s more than you’d see at home. You can always embroider the facts later.

Ultimately, it’s all worth it. The desire to come together again, have fun, and share an experience strengthens family bonds and provides lasting memories. And you’ll be able to provide the authoritative version to the Rashoman recollection at a wedding 20 years from now.