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Ideas to improve roundtables and other inter-unit communications

From the original thread:

I realize we’re wandering off of the OP’s topic, and it might be good to continue this discussion under a thread title that’s more related to this discussion (e.g. “Ideas to improve roundtables and other inter-unit communications”).

Honestly, it’s a struggle to find leaders from our unit who are available (i.e. have time they are willing to spare) to attend Roundtable. We generally all wear at least two hats (including our COR) just within the unit, and spend a lot of outside-of-meeting time coordinating all of those moving pieces. Toss in the other things our kids do, plus our own jobs, and we end up scrambling every week. I’m sure that sounds totally unfamiliar to every other scouter on this discussion server. ;^) Our roundtables have recently gotten closer to our unit, though, so we may see an uptick in attendance from units in our immediate area if it’s not a 25 minute drive each way. Unfortunately for other units in the district, that means that they now have the 25 minute drive.

If we’re going to ask our leaders (and/or scouts) to come to Yet Another MeetingTM, we need to make sure we’re providing value for that meeting. Not to throw our roundtable commish under the bus (because it’s really not all on him), our roundtables end up being of highly variable “value” (i.e. some of them could be handled as email announcements rather than in-person meetings; some are very helpful, particularly for new leaders; some have important information about upcoming events like camporee,…).

One thing that we are working on, for example, with our OA chapter is improving value for the meetings by doing things that the youth want to do. Why is a scout/venturer going to come out on another school night for another hour-long meeting (even if it is only once a month), when there are so many other obligations already on his or her plate? Why is their parent going to permit/facilitate that extra trip? I feel the same way about scout-related meetings as I do about work-related ones: If I can’t tell you why we’re having the meeting and provide a convincing reason you should be attending, I probably need to reconsider the meeting, its planned contents, or the invitee list.

ETA:

  • What suggestions do other leaders (or scouts!) have for improving Roundtables or other events/processes where unit adult leadership and/or scouts can communicate across unit lines?
  • What’s working well for you/your district?
  • What have you tried that didn’t work well, and were you able to identify why it didn’t work well?
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I started with one long post with a bunch of thoughts, but decided to break it up into one thought per comment to make it easier for people to respond, discuss, or ridicule the ideas more efficiently…

So first one: We hold our district Roundtable and OA Chapter meetings on the same night at the same location. The two events seem to reinforce each other.

Our district has a Facebook page where all the info covered at Roundtable gets published.

There’s no reason your district can’t use Remind101 or Band or a similar tool to facilitate communications. They’re not just for teachers!

Our District uses Facebook as well…it’s very handy.

I’ve only gone to a handful of meetings over the last few years, partly due to another volunteer org I work with having their monthly meeting at the same day/time, and partly because I found it to be 10 minutes of content stretched into an hour and a half meeting–content that could have easily been shared in other formats.

One recommendation I’ve made is to offer a live stream of the meeting. At a bare minimum, all you need is a cell phone and a Facebook (or similar site that allows for live streaming) account. Mounting the phone on a $10 tripod makes it even better. I’d certainly tune in to this the day of, but it’s also archived so I can watch it at my convenience.

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Here is how to improve your roundtables in a nutshell. Stop allowing people to drone on about their important information.

Honestly, I haven’t made the last three roundtables because when the time came I would rather have sat in a dentist chair than through the announcements. I know people think they must blather. Reality is, most are more concerned with seeing the end of that section than whatever is being talked about.

So here is the idea: replace the entire process with an electronic version. You make a (single) page with headings and links to the information. One person reads through the headings. People can have a small number of paper flyers for the few who will actually use them.

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Quick note about Facebook. It is a great add-on for communication. It is a horrible single point of communication. If a person falls out of the algorithm, they start missing some of your announcements. They can then slowly stop seeing them altogether. And… the desired behavior pattern is constantly changing to prevent it from being gamed.

Long story short - those not glued to FB will miss a bunch no matter what.

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I’m glued to FB, and I still never see any posts from my wife. She claims it’s because my news feed is too full of Scout stuff.

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I would also add that not everybody uses Facebook. Using it as a supplemental form of communication is good, but it is not good as a single point of communication.

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Rather than reposting the details here, I’ll link to a semi-related discussion that brought up the use of digital meeting platforms in another context. That might be an option for some roundtables, particularly in spatially-diverse districts.

Personally, one of the things I value the most about in-person meetings is being able to put a face to a name, or catch up outside of the meeting proper with other scouters I don’t see frequently. Losing that informal, impromptu interaction would be a drawback to having every Roundtable using a digital platform.

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You can modify that by making sure she is listed as “first” and then liking everything she says. At a minimum click on it.

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To be clear, I am not saying replace the round-table with electronic means. I am saying replace announcements. I am not the only one who avoids these painful times. When I was a young teen my mother became cub scout round-table commissioner. She instituted a strict policy of limiting announcement time spraying any offender with a water shooter. Attendance went up some until she sprayed one of the people “nobody” would dare spray. Then it skyrocketed.

Seriously, the most I want to hear is “Camporee is coming up in March and we are looking for help and signup.” The cub scouters don’t care, and I should have it on my calendar. The singular exception to announcements in my entire time as a scouter was the lady who wrote a poem to promote Wood Badge. Otherwise, 30 seconds is plenty of time for each announcement.

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I would say that if possible, add streaming of the event. While this wouldn’t reach all, Facebook Live could prove to be an avenue and some could even send in questions.

Yeah, I was trying to clarify the intent of my post, rather than yours. So much for that plan… :wink:

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