Wouldn't it be great if you could come back to Scouting in September and have everything ready to go? Leaders would have complete information lists on the kids in their Section. There'd be no wasted nightdoing registration. There would be no wondering if you had enough money in the bank to settle registration. You and everyone else in the Group could just start the year.
Let me share with you how our Group came to benefit from our change from September to May registration.
With one eye toward the May 31 deadline, we have created a critical path to track the registration process. It helps register nearly 150 youth and Leaders in all five Sections.
First, a mid-April letter is mailed to the home of all current members. It outlines the process for registration for the next year, including the date of our coming registration evening. A reminder notice goes home with the youth. New members start to hear about the registration evening through signs posted in local schools and businesses or word of mouth and they attend our registration night too.
As we schedule our all-Section registration night, usually a Tuesday around the first week of May, we carefully arrange our church basement meeting place for what amounts to a complete marketing approach:
At the end of the evening, each Section Leader knows how many new youth have registered, which current youth have not yet re-registered and calls are made to the families. If there are any issues, they can be quickly resolved. We don't let our youth drift away.
By the last Monday of May our youth registration is complete. Usually our Sections are at full strength by then. I ensure every- thing is together, write up the Section summaries and Leader registration, and put the whole package together by May 31.
We can now get on with interviews for our new Leaders. And if we find that a Section has grown or a few of the Leaders have moved up we have plenty of time before September to find addition- al Leaders. Our Volunteer table during the registration night is a big help here, since we already know who has expressed an interest in what role.
We no longer see Scouting registration as an Autumn or back to school thing. A number of remarkable benefits result:
We really don't have an "end of the year" anymore, and that's good for our sense of community. One Scouting year fits seamlessly into the next. Before we adopted early registration, not much happened in the summer. Now we plan events which keep our Group closer in the summer. Events might only come once a month, but at least there's a continuity. We all feel more a part of the Group. That's good for our kids.
It is a process that has helped us create strong fies among our members and retain them year after year. Certainly the excellence of our Section Leader's programmes is the core reason that our youth come, but many Groups would envy our ability to keep our members - a retention rate as high as 97 percent in some Sections.
See the future of your Group - make it happen. Make Scouting's Mission work better through early registration.
Editor's Note: An Early Registration Resource Kit is being created to assist every Group's early registration. Send your Group's plans, ideas, success stories and suggestions to Scouting News.
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I suppose it is human nature to delay starting a task when the outcome is uncertain or with which one is not very comfortable. A task which one does not like or which one believes is doomed to fail anyway will likely never get started, let alone accomplished. It may be okay if you live alone to never make up your bed. It can be your little secret. However, in Scouting, as Leaders we have responsibilifies to our registered youth members to provide them with active, interesting and fun programs that will encourage them to remain in Scouting. A corollary to this is that we must also provide them with trained, experienced and enthusiastic Leaders who will deliver these programs. Tbe key element to both of these goals is PLANNING. This applies to Program Leaders, Group Committee members and Service Scouters alike.
Let me be the first to admit that long term planning is definitely not my strong point. You just need to look at my RRSP portfolio to confirm that. For many years I have been in positions where "Crisis Management" is a definite asset. However, I worry that this may become my primary management style unless I make myself take the longer view.
Certainly it is difficult to get started on long range objectives if you do not have a game plan. This is a step by step process which must be carefully mapped out but must also not be totally inflexible. It is a matter of setting short and long term goals and then measunng your progress in relation to these objectives at regular intervals. Changes can then be made in the plans to get the process back on track if necessary. The key though. is to know where you want to be at a given time. Basically this is starting with the end in mind (one of the "7 Habits of Highly Successful People" Stephen R. Covey).
Leader Continuity means planning
It is not enough to say: "I want to run a good program for my Colony (Pack, Troop, Group, etc.)". It necds to be quantifiable so that you can measure your progress. Set some goals like: How many youth do I want to have join? How many of the unit will go on to the next Section? How many camps/outings will you have this year? How many of the different elements which form part of the program for my Section are included in each meeting, each month etc? Your planning also needs to have a time line. Three years is the usual period recommended. if you are a Pack Leader then you would want to try to incorporate in your programming meetings in which the youth can earn two stars each year as part of a group effort; six stars over three years. Similarly, themes which run for several meetings should be staggered so that no youth get the same program themes each year. There are many program aids available to help you in this longer term planning. You should also be asking your Service Scouter to help you with this planning if it is new to you.
That wasn't so bad was it? It is relatively easy to deal with "things" and, as time goes by, it gets even easier as experience improves. What is much more difficult for many of us is dealing with people. We have a hard time in asking parents to help out with the program or even to do the odd task such as driving to camp, assisting with a craft or providing treats for an event. We fear the dreaded "no" response and take it as a rejection For this reason, many of us delay in asking for this help. We end up doing the task ourselves and even "making do" with fewer Leaders thui we know we really need. I used to tell my Cubs that we do not ask people to buy an apple on Apple Day, we ask them if they would like to make a donation to Scouting. The apple is the token of appreciation for the donation. If the person says no, he/she is not rejecting you, but is saying they do not wish to make a donation. Similarly, if an adult says no to being a Leader or a helper or even doing a simple "one off" task, that person is not rejecting you. He/she may be saying: "I do not have the time," or "I do not have any training," or I am afraid that if I say yes, I will be expected to do this forever. Your Group Committee can help you with way to approach parents, preferably as part of the registration process so that the parent signs up to do something at the same time he/she is signing up a youth. Again, it is matter of starting with a plan ancd having the end in mind.
To that end, I would suggest that the time to start planning and considering what resources you need for the Scouting year beginning in September, 1998, is now. Each year as a Service Scouter, I was asked to advise the Area Commissioner of any problems that might be coming up. This did work in some cases, but in many others it was assumed that "everyone knew" about someone moving, retiring etc. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and each September sees a lot of last minute scrambling.
We need to assess our programs and measure our results in retaining youth and in having them go up to the next Section as soon as possible. We also need to determine how big each Section is likely to be. The bigger the better I think is a good rule, so long as there is ~ __ the program that you have so diligently planned out. Do not be satisfied with less than the recommended ratio of youth to Leaders either. Then, if you can add more youth, make plans for meetings with youth at "Kid Talks" in the schools during the months of April and May. You will have much success in registering more new members for next year if you start "recruiting" now. Definitely do not forget to ask your existing youth members if they intend to return. Experience has shown one thing alone can be the determining factor in retaining some youth, a feeling that someone cares about them. You might consider doing a survey to find out what the youth liked or did not like in the current years program. Certainly giving youth a say in their program is not a new idea, but it is time that we devised some more structure for the process. By incorporating some of their suggestions, you will be demonstrating that you are listening. Increased retention and a more "user friendly" program may be direct results of this process.
We also need to determine how many Leaders we will need to replace. Seek positive responses to basic questions like: "Are you coming back?" Leaders like to feel wanted too you know! You should try to gather as much information about potential new Leaders as possible before actually approaching them on the matter. Be prepared to handle the objections mentioned above regarding time and training. But, be realistic. There is litfie hope in trying to convince a real estate sales agent who works every evening that he/she can also be the Key Leader of a Section.
One more thing.... that objection about being stuck with "it" for life. I do appreciate those who have been in continuous service for 10, 20 and more years. Your contributions have been invaluable. However, that is not for everyone. We all need to do a better job of succession planning. In many cases, a Leader in the Group (Program or Administration) has to leave suddenly and there is not a replacement in sight. This may result in others doing double duty which just increases the chances that they will become "burned out". The three year plan would appear to work well here too. Ideally, the first year is a learning process as the new person is mentored by the existing Leader. More responsibility is given until the new person is totally up to speed. The second year, that person runs the job alone and the former Leader goes on to something else. The third year, our now experienced Leader is training his/her own replacement. I think a potential new leader might be more willing to sign on if he/she knew that it was for a finite period.
Planning ahead as much as possible and training ones own replacement will do a lot to alleviate some of the stress we now face every new year. I have already started to look for my own successor. Have you?
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Being a Section Leader in these times is a difficult job. It can be compared to solving the popular toy from a few years ago known as Rubik's Cube.
The multicoloured cube can be rotated and turned in sections to try and get all the same coloured squares on the same side. An individual can try turning or rotating various sections in order to achieve the goal. Usually, it seems that you are succeeding but after some time you find out that what you thought was the right move, didn't work. Sometimes, if you are very analytical and lucky, you may succeed. But generally, much time is consumed and you tend to become frustrated and maybe even give up.
Being a Section Leader may be compared to the above description. At your meeting, you may try this and that with the youth members. Sometimes things will work and sometimes they will not. As a Leader, you may become frustrated and give up.
To solve Rubik's Cube, I resorted to getting an explanation book which gave me helpful hints and instructions. A little time was required to read and to follow the directions, but I was able to solve the puzzle. The feeling of success and accomplishment was great.
Similar help is available for the Section Leaders in Scouting. It is called Training.
Training will require a little of your time but it will provide you with ideas, helpful hints and direction in order to succeed. All training courses are designed to provide the Leaders with the knowledge and skills to deliver the Scouting Program and to be successful. Leaders who have taken a training course feel more confident and are more successful in their volunteer role. Training courses are fun and very worthwhile.
I would like to remind all new Leaders (1997-98 Scouting year) of their commitment to complete a Wood Badge Part I course for their Section during their first year of membership. You must complete your course by October 31, '98.
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|GTR Training Calendar|
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A youth training workshop has been introduced that surpasses anything we have done in the past. This program is a revelation to the candidates. It has also helped numerous parents since it is being made available to the general public.
"How to talk so kids will listen, how to listen so kids will talk" teaches us how to communicate not through destructive intimidation but in a way that builds confidence and self-esteem in the youth. Lectures are not a part of the presentation, instead three interactive workshops are supported by a workbook and six excellent video tapes.
Witness the following candidate feedbacks: "It's amazing". "So simple and yet so effective." "I can't believe the improved atmosphere in our house."
The authors, Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, have had the privilege of working more than five years under the guidance of Dr. Haim Ginott, psychologist, at the University of New York.
Along with receiving communication skills useful for a lifetime, the successful candidate receives a part of the Scouter Achievement Crest, a wallet-sized Recognition Card and a Youth Training Specialist Certificate. For information or to register, call Jenevie Austin at Scout House 490-6364 Ext. 237. Courses can be scheduled to meet your time frame.
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|Scouting News is printed 5 times a year for|
Scouts Canada in the Greater Toronto
Region, 265 Yorkland Ave, North York
M2J 5C7. Tel: (416) 490-6364
Editor: Paddy Bateman
Disclaimer: Anything posted to this Home Page
are the opinions of the individuals who posted them
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