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How do you make a good roundtable?

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  • #16
    I also feel it's the breakout part that is the problem. In the past few years, I've heard similar presentations a couple of times now. I agree with some others - make the presentations more specific and more relevant. A great start would be to query unit leaders. I know if asked, I'd have a list of topics I'd share with my CSRT commissioner.

    I also like the announcements. As I see it, it's one of the few times you get to have the district folks organizing activities communicating directly with unit leaders. The only change I'd make is for the RT commissioner to create a summary sheet or perhaps follow up email with the highlights.


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    • #17
      >>"I don't have time to spearhead it, so mostly I'm stuck just making suggestions. Hopefully we can also find a great champion for it."

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      • #18
        I agree, if it's something that is on the council site or is in the Council Email, point it out or CC me on it, just don't read it to me in the RT.

        I have always said RT needs to be info about events/activities before it is made generally available (3 months+).

        I also suggested a RT "A-Team" to visit the Leader Meetings or Pack/Troop meetings on those units that don't come to RT. To put a hand-shake out there and let them know ANYONE can come to RT to learn about upcoming events.

        A "A-Team" would be 2-3 Experienced Scouters with a Poster or activity or some handouts... not take over any unit meeting, but do a meet/greet, see our poster/flyer/activity 5-10 min. before hand. Course, I would NOT surprise them, but call first and ask if they are up for it. Keep it light and friendly.

        Maybe even include the unit Commissioner, to keep it social.
        (This message has been edited by dg98adams)

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        • #19
          I am a former Cub Scout and Boy Scout Roundtable Commissioner. As expressed in many of the comments here, there is some confusion and a wide array of opinions about what Roundtable is for and what it should contain.

          For district leaders (District Executive, District Commissioner, District Chair, committee and activity chairs), Roundtable not only allows them to check off boxes for their job requirements, it is the ideal forum for information and announcements. Roundtable IS the ONLY regular meeting of unit representatives. (Ideally, this need would be met by all CORs attending the District Committee meeting. Ha!) As such, it is a real service to units to let them know what is going on in the district, what programs they can take advantage of, and where they can get help, and for people to be able to ask questions, get answers, and conduct a lot of business on the side (turning in forms, for example). Many unit leaders come to Roundtable solely to get the "news" and take care of unit business. And that's okay. As with other commissioner activities, the purpose of Roundtable is unit service. If the unit is being served at Roundtable through announcements and being able to ask questions and turn in forms, then we're doing good. And doing far better than if Roundtable was offering "skill" programs that no one attends because the unit leaders don't need knot tying lessons or practice making sock puppets.

          And I think that is really the key to Roundtable: giving leaders what they NEED in order to succeed in their positions, because NEED will bring them out when WANT will not -- it is a big deal giving up yet another night to Scouting. So what do unit Scouters need to succeed? Knowledge and Inspiration: In addition to the "news," accurate information about rules and policies. Accurate information about operations and procedures -- this is how X is supposed to work in the unit. Problem solving options -- how to approach particular issues that crop up in unit operations (conflicts with parents, unmotivated Scouts, etc.). Program options -- where to go, how to get started doing a new type of activity, fun stuff that the unit hasn't done before. And from beginning to end, a reaffirmation of purpose -- this is why we are here; this is why we sacrifice our time, energy, and money; I'm not alone, but am part of a great and worthy enterprise full of wonderful people that I can call friends.

          Dan Kurtenbach
          Fairfax, VA

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          • #20
            ScoutNut,

            A valid question. I am not currently on the roundtable staff with my time being tied into the Cub pack. I'd love to take it on, but that might put me into the thread on burnout.

            Why I ask is that I've been approached by the DE for suggestions because the round table is stagnant and I'm generally good at problem solving and creative thinking. I'm also clear that I want to make decisions based on what brings the best program to the most boys and that's my motive.

            I don't want to cast any of the commissioners in a bad light and I am in no position to insult the job that they are doing. What I was stating is that I see them come to roundtable and then hang out in a group. I think that a high percentage of the room is sporting 15 knots, 6 pins, 5 ribbons, woodbadge necker and beads, an OA sash and hanging out with their group and that may not be totally inviting to the new den leader. If they were to scatter out in the room and each bring a new unit leader, I think that would be more useful than occupying a couple tables in the back.

            I see the same thing in my professional society and its intimidating to new people, especially to someone who is new to the whole program.

            In any case, this all gives me something to think about and to approach the various professionals and commissioners on what will bring in and keep the most volunteers coming to roundtable. Thanks

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            • #21
              The Cub Scout Roundtable guide is still published in paper, and is available
              http://www.scoutstuff.org/roundtable-planning-guide.html

              The Boy Scout Roundtable guide is released every year as an electronic source, and posted on the National Council web site on the Commissioner pages
              http://scouting.org/filestore/commissioner/pdf/BS_Roundtable_Planning_Guide.pdf

              The Venturing Forum guide is also posted there:
              http://scouting.org/filestore/pdf/34342.pdf

              The Varsity Scout Huddle planning guide might be kicking around a council with a large LDS memberships, but I can't find if its still published.

              OUr district is fortunate, we have good attendance - about 60% of the packs show up over the course of the year. Naturally, we try to increase that.

              Why do they come? Information - we have a large and active district. Roundtable is one place to find out about the events sponsored by the district and its units.

              Training - every roundtable covers topics of use to the leaders. In the Cub Roundtable we concentrate on activity ideas, field trip resources, theme materials, games, songs and skits.

              Fellowship - leaders share information ideas and resources with each other.

              Tradition - many units just have a history of good attendance. Experienced leaders bring new leaders because it is part of the unit culture.

              The last item may be the biggest hurdle. You have to pump up the program, and then advertise long and hard to get them to start coming. Once you get a core of attendees, they will reinforce attendance within their units.

              Comment


              • #22
                Pappadaddy & moosetracker,

                Yes, the BSA RT guide is used (along with the Resource manuals). The themes are repeated every three years.

                Most Troops that I have talked to do NOT use the themes or the Resouce manuals and have trouble planning a meeting.

                Just my observations & $0.02

                Rick

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                • #23
                  I haven't been to a R/T in over a year (we were consolidated with another district, and R/T was established on "their night", which happens to be the same as our troop meeting night), but in the roundtables at which I have attended, and presented, I noticed a few things.

                  The first is that information is being held hostage -- plenty of stuff goes out by email, but some details are withheld for the monthly R/T. Because so many unit leaders stay away, only about half the unit leaders in the district know everything that is going on.

                  Presentation length: I've presented about a half dozen times, and in every case, I wrote up what I wanted to cover on a small page of notes. I'd present that stuff within 3 to 5 minutes, and then we'd do Q&A. The whole slice was maybe 10 minutes max.

                  Contrast that with the camp promotions guys that would come in -- the most egregious case was watching a 10-minute horrific video that looked like it was made by 10 year olds for viewing by 10 year olds. That's fine, but the R/T audience isn't a bunch of 10 year olds.

                  The other one that was really bad was a 45-minute presentation on Cub camps, followed by at least a half hour on the council Scout camp by another presenter. After that, the council camping chair got up to speak, to cover the points that he felt the others hadn't emphasized. He talked for at least another half hour, with mostly redundant information, and without taking into account that most people attending roundtables have pretty much made up their minds where they are going to camp (let's be honest, the ones that stay in council tend to stay there, and the ones that shop around -- because they find the council camp lacking -- tend to look outside; nobody is really making up their minds based on almost two hours of blah blah blah).

                  Here's my attitude: get the information out, by multiple channels, quickly and cleanly, with minimal "fog". Be respectful of the time of other volunteers.

                  Guy

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    (Tongue-in-cheek)

                    How do you make a good roundtable? Cut off the corners

                    Perhaps, Roundtables should be online.

                    I find these kind of discussions and the forums in general to be a better round table than the real thing. I can come and read at my own leisure without advanced event juggling. Best of all, I don't have to explain to the "keeper of the family calendar" that I'll be out at another Scout meeting. Oddly enough, through these forums, I often know lots of upcoming info before my DE gets the word from the SE or National.

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                    • #25
                      I've attended RTs in 3 different districts. In my humble opinion, the best was where we had a short common session for anouncements that pertained to the all and then seperate for CS, BS, and Ventures. At the CS section, it was focused on what's coming up (pop corn sales, PWD races, B&G banquet, etc.) and how the different units did it. It gave us heads up of upcoming activities and how to prepare for it. It was great to get a reminder to think ahead and tips from other units. The worse was one where each RT meeting was like a pack meeting to include games, cheers, and snacks. It's a waste of my time and if I needed to learn how to run a pack meeting, I can always download the pack new delivery method plans.

                      I think the best thing is to get in touch with the CMs/SMs/CAs/CCs of all the units and see what they would like to see at RTs. Who knows, maybe they do want games and cheers.

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Ditto.

                        The best roundtable discussions I've had were the ones that dealt with the planning questions - i.e., how do packs plan a summer program, how do packs plan a pack meeting, how do packs plan a campout. We mostly just discuss with each other what we're doing. It give me ideas as well as a sounding board of other excited scouters.

                        I don't care how long the announcements last. I'll deal with them.

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Crew21_Adv wrote: "That each unit select co-facilitators and present that month. Most all of our units agreed to host (or co-host) a monthly theme. Our thought was, if they feel that they are active participants in Roundtable, this would add to their own personal value, up the game a little bit. Having each attending Scouting unit, be responsible for an education/program segment thru the year, has increased our attendance even greater. "

                          What an absolutely great idea! Sort of moves the roundtable commisioner similar to unit commisioner. Commisioners are there for advice, but unit leaders implement the program. Moving that sort of thing into the district level too.

                          I could see that NOVEMBER - Troop ## presents winter camping. Troop ## presents camping on an aircraft carrier. Pack ## presents local pack overnight camping.

                          What a great way to get people to attend and get fresh presentations. Heck, every unit does something really well.

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Crew21_Adv wrote: "That each unit select co-facilitators and present that month. Most all of our units agreed to host (or co-host) a monthly theme. Our thought was, if they feel that they are active participants in Roundtable, this would add to their own personal value, up the game a little bit. Having each attending Scouting unit, be responsible for an education/program segment thru the year, has increased our attendance even greater. "

                            What an absolutely great idea! Sort of moves the roundtable commisioner similar to unit commisioner. Commisioners are there for advice, but unit leaders implement the program. Moving that sort of thing into the district level too.

                            I could see that NOVEMBER - Troop ## presents winter camping. Troop ## presents camping on an aircraft carrier. Pack ## presents local pack overnight camping.

                            What a great way to get people to attend and get fresh presentations. Heck, every unit does something really well.

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              I have no idea how to make a good round table. I only know what I don't like at cub scout round table.

                              Announcements: I hate announcements. There should be ZERO need for announcements in a world with web sites and email. Announcements should be emailed out. No verbal announcements ever.

                              Spelling Ceremonies: Any ceremony where you hold up a letter and say what it stands for, and it spells out some cub scout ideal is completely lame.

                              Themes: I see no use for them and no evidence the boys care about them. I stopped using them years ago, and the boys didn't blink. This is more something that seems moms like to make it rather than the boys like to see it made.
                              I think round table should be what it says: a big meeting with all unit leaders in attendance where there is an agenda (not announcements!) for things to discuss amongst the various units. A kind of committee meeting for the units to agree on activities for the committee to support instead of the committee just deciding things and round table being the worst training session I have ever attended.

                              Maybe a town hall format would work where the commissioner, committee chair, and executive make themselves available for Q&A on various issues. However, I can imagine that quickly devolving into them giving politically vague answers that tell us nothing of importance.

                              I don't know how to fix it. But I do know that I hate it. I feel stupid going to it.
                              (This message has been edited by BSA24)

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Have been on and off RT staff and now have sort of had it dropped on me by the resignation of the leader. Have had fewer than a dozen, including staff and exec at the past few meetings. The only meetings at which we get a decent turnout are popcorn info night, which became the popcorn kickoff this past year, SFF setup and area coverage to avoid overlap if possible, and before recharter. Thinking we might be better off to go quarterly at a physical meeting and simply do on-line RT of some sort otherwise. Do like the idea of ALL units being part of the staff. We too have meeting overload issues, as well as distance for some.

                                Hope that we soon get a volunteer for a new leader, as I really do not want the job, along with all my other hats.

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