Seascout-Net Mail Archive for June of 1999: Attendance, Recruiting, Etc.
Attendance, Recruiting, Etc.
Fri, 18 Jun 1999 10:40:02 -0700
I am still relatively new to the list, and find it very interesting that
uniform details were such a provocative topic. We are more concerned
with how to get the crew to wear any kind of uniform at all! But that
is not why I am sharing today.
Recently I read a note regarding recruiting and attendance, and I
thought I would share our success story as well as ask for advice. Last
year, our crew was down to 2 kids, and there were very few activities
going on. Meetings usually consisted of taking our boat over to a
waterfront Burger King, or practicing tying the basic 5 knots. Now, we
have an average attendance of 8-10 crew, and have approx. 15 crew on our
roster. We have activities almost every weekend, and at our meetings we
work on advancement, practice Regatta events, or take our boat out to
cruise and practice drills (man overboard, fire, etc.). So what is the
1. Program. Our Skipper works out of town during the summer months, so
the mates and committee chair run the ship. For the past few years the
mates running the program were barely out of the crew themselves, and
they were more interested in having fun and taking the easy way, rather
than running a quality program. I hesitate to criticize anyone, but I
believe their lack of structure and discipline nearly destroyed our
ship. Now, we have several older mates back, myself included, who are
committed to running a program that is educational, fun, structured, and
disciplined. Before our skipper left this year, his advice to us was,
"Build a strong program with lots of activities, go back to the book,
and the kids will come." He was right! Some of the "new" things we are
doing are requiring the crew to wear uniforms at all meetings and when
boating in public, we start and end each meeting with the crew assembled
in ranks, and we require the crew to work on advancement. Of course,
we can't force them to advance, but since most of our crew are new we
plan meeting topics that will get a requirement passed off. Now that
they are getting close to a new rank, they are asking us to help them
sign stuff off. Also, we have set certain ranks as requirements to hold
office. Now, it's true that we met with some resistance from the crew,
and a few kids don't come around as much. But we've also had some
return to the program, and the bottom line is they like what we are
doing and they bring their friends.
Now, I'd like to address the issue of "adult run" vs. "youth run"
programs. We have been criticized as of late for not having a youth run
program. I would answer, how can you establish a strong youth run
program without first having a strong adult-run program to teach the
kids what a program should be? Our past experience shows us that
youth-run programs, without the proper adult leadership, can be
extremely negative. Of course, our goal is to have the kids take over
much of the planning we have been doing, as we train them in what a good
2. Adult Leadership Attitude. Another key this past year is the
attitude of the adults. We all volunteer because we want to make a
positive difference in the kids lives, we believe the Sea Scout program
is worthwhile, and we want to see it flourish and grow again. We think
kids will live up (or down) to our expectations, so we expect great
things from our crew and we tell them on a regular basis that they are
awesome and they can be the best! We've given them goals to strive for,
such as Regatta placement and fleet recognition, and they believe they
can hit those goals because we tell them they can. I think this
goal-striving positive environment motivates them to participate.
Everyone likes to be part of something that makes them feel important!
We also give them lots of praise and encouragement for whatever they are
attempting, even if they don't do it perfectly, along with needed
correction. The kids soak up our praise, and it really helps them feel
proud of their accomplishments.
Now, you're probably tired of my bragging so I'll get to my question.
Unfortunately our successful program is causing resentment between ship
leaders in our fleet. We have a dilema because crew from other ships
come to our meetings. In some cases these scouts that are "dual
registered" have stopped attending their own meetings in favor of ours.
We have talked with them about this at length, because we absolutely
don't want to be stealing crew from other ships. They tell us they like
our program better because they learn more, the meetings are more fun,
and they like to do advancement. They say they are bored with their
ships meetings. We have a 65' Army T-boat, the largest ship in our
fleet, and have a co-ed crew, but I don't know if these are factors.
How can we avoid causing resentment from the other leaders? Should we
ban kids from other ships from attending our meetings, at the risk they
will leave Sea Scouts altogether? We told them they cannot hold office
on our ship if they are participating with another ship, and we said
that if they practice for Regatta with us then we expect them to compete
with us. Should we further force kids to choose between ships? One
other complicating factor is that we often open our cruises to other
ships to help lower the cost per person to run the boat. Now that our
crew is bigger maybe we should isolate more and stop sharing cruises.
What do you think?
Thanks for your time!
Robyn Kolke, Mate
SSS Propeller, Ship 62
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