Re: Help with Round Table
Mike Walton ("Settummanque)
Sat, 18 Nov 1995 02:15:15 -0600
DeLane wrote about the lack of attendance at Roundtables:
>The problems is two fold. First, we are located in a
>rural area and our district is wide spread. Currently it is a 45 minute to
>hour drive to attend meetings. Now this may not seem to be much to some but
>it can be for us due to weather and babysitting.
Not if you vary the location of the Roundtable between all parts of your
From personal experience as a Paraprofessional in two rural Districts,
there's a lot
to be said for moving the monthly Roundtable meetings around between
First, the unit "hosting" the Roundtable meeting "buys-in" on doing a good
job, and although there's a Roundtable Staff and Commissioner, the "hosting
unit" is responsible for the program.
Next, the Roundtable meeting is in a different community each month. It
gives those unit leaders living in the "big city" of the District some idea
of what has to be done in a large part to "deliver the promise" in smaller
areas. Also, it allows for a more
specific sharing of information, resources and people between both "big
city" and "small town" units.
Next, allow for "just talking" between everyone in attendance. People come
to the Roundtable to share information about what they are doing and
problems in doing what they are doing. If you allow them the ability to
share privately as well as publically, the number of people attending will
rise, just from sheer "Well, how about if I meet you at that Roundtable
meeting place....we can talk about then. Besides, I need to pick up a new
Which leads me to having a small stash of generic Scouting literture
available, and what I did (and most executives will do this for you if you
ask nicely and if you have a good rapport with him or her) is to take orders
on the "hard-to-get stuff". Because I had a
"account" (all executives and those national and regional volunteers do)
with the Supply Division, it's not too hard for me to call them up, request
a booklet or item, and have them to charge it to my account (which comes out
of my check the next month). It beats everything out of driving three to
five hours to the Council office, only to find out that someone beat you to
the last copy of the "Advancement Guidelines: Council and District
Procedures" booklet you've heard about on Scouts-L that you should get a
copy of, but ordering it from that toll-free number sounds so, well, impersonal.
That small stash of generic literture also helps those "visitors" to your
Roundtable, because they too, will be able to purchase it (cha ching!), use
some of the information, and *get this* become INTERESTED in serving as a
Finally, if you "play your cards right", the Roundtable meeting can be an
additional resource for OTHERS in your District. While yes, the Roundtable
meetings are OPTIONAL meetings for our Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting and
Exploring leaders, there's nothing that says that you HAVE to cater just to
OUR folk. The most successful rural Roundtables, including our own, have
been those that have topics which would appeal to the childcare
providers (like a discussion on basic first aid for leaders, which is
a standard Red Cross or Heart Association full-blown course), to crafts
people (like the time we invited a man that made beautiful chairs from
different woods...not only did he explain what it was he was doing, but he
also explained the different kinds of woods, what works well with what, and
during the evening, they gave away one of his chairs to a participant.
You'd better believe the NEXT time they had a Roundtable there, that it was
a full house!!), to the time we had one of those TV "backroads" reporters
come tell us all how's the best way to get our "stories" on the local TV
station or on the radio.
>Second, we have a very
>good round table staff, but for the most part what is covered at the
>meetings can be found in the BSA manuals and resource material provided for
>each month. The staff does a excellant job but we need something to help
>entice others to come to the meetings. We currently draw about 12-20
>leaders each meeting out of a possible 200(rough estimate). The same people
>show up most of the time.
See, just like here, DeLane, you have to not only vary the "information"
with the "entertainment" and "resource information". That's what brings
people here, and that's what brings people to attend Roundtable. When they
KNOW it's full of things that they can take home with them, not "propaganda
from the Council (or from National)" (or when the amount is lower then the
overall worth), people will drive from OTHER districts to come to your
Roundtables --if the CONTENT is high.
Make it worth their drive 90 or 120 minutes (in one District where I'd
worked, the average driving distance was two hours to the Roundtable
site...the District was very rural, with lots of winding roads and lots of
hazards in the way!!).
In the winter time, compromise for all by holding the meeting earlier in the
day or perhaps on a weekend which other events are being held at a central
location just for the safety aspect. In one of the Districts where I
served, we held Roundtable in January, February and March on the first
Saturday and if possible, tied it in with a Council or District event, so
that for the two hours in the morning, we definately had a captive audience.
Scouters are interested in a lot of different things. Make the Roundtable
meeting in which you can get resource material, talk with
I had many times wished that Scouts-L existed when I was working. I would
take many of the issues that we've talked about here, made copies for each
participant, and during each Roundtable, just TALK about what others here
are talking about. I would assure you that our meetings would get very
livid ("Tell that guy that he doesn't know what he's talkin' about! I've
been a Scoutmaster for TEN YEARS and I've never heard of such mess!", to
ways that things discussed here can be implemented ("I've got an idea: Let's
see if we can ask our Scouts if there's a way that they can all wear their
say, Fridays of each week"). When you bring things from a wider perspective
the level of the leader "on the line", you have a better chance of further
motivating and engerizing them (the true purpose of the Roundtable meeting)
to doing a better job.
This isn't accomphished by monthly rehashes of what the national literture
says or what the Council's getting ready to do. It's accomphished by
meeting the needs of the group and keeping the group together to get the job
Rural areas in our Councils are tough to do Roundtables in, I admit it. In
one District, I was lucky to get 30 Scouters to attend from the 112 that we
had registered there. It's a matter of priorities in many cases, and as
Jack wrote, we (the BSA) kinda shot ourselves in the feet (but we had to)
when we deleted the "requirement for Roundtable participation" from our
training award standards.
But, if you make that meeting attractive to those inside - and outside - the
Scouting program, you will get more consistant attendance, more positive
attitudes about attending and most of all, more attendance. Make it fit
THEIR needs, not the needs of the Roundtable Staff or Commissioner.
(MAJ) Mike L. Walton (Settummanque, the blackeagle) (
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