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LeCastor

What's the Purpose of Roundtable?

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A few years ago I was tapped to be the Boy Scout Roundtable Commissioner, a role in which I served for exactly one year.  I tried to help our Cub Scout Roundtable Commissioner keep the sprawling announcements at the beginning of RT down to 30 minutes instead of a full hour.  Also, I tried to engage the Scoutmasters/Assistant Scoutmasters in the Boy Scout breakout sessions with a fresh, new training item each month.  Much to my dismay, RT remained a time for Scouters to find a pulpit and preach to the District.  Even the District Executive droned on and on for 15-20 minutes about one thing or another. 

 

So, what the heck is Roundtable for anyway?  Is it for training (I though it was)?  Or is it a place to network (I thought it was)?  Or is it a place to show off your uniform (it seems to be)?

 

I don't want to be bitter but there are some changes going on in our district/council that are attempting to rein in the Scouter preachers and regain some semblance of training and networking.

 

One of the biggest changes I've noticed is that, moving forward, we will no longer have paper flyers.  Instead, all announcements and brochure-type information will be collected and emailed to all registered Scouters via Constant Contact.  The older Scouters are furious because they "don't check email every day" and/or "don't have the email."  (I'm not trying to be offensive to the older generations! :D )  

 

It's to the point now that I just don't want to go anymore but do anyway because I'm a Unit Commissioner and want to see my unit Scouters and help them stay connected.  Perhaps I'll see that the new changes will be good and that everyone will be a little more informed.  

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I go every month because Commissioners' meeting precedes it.  I do have to admit ours is run fairly well.

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"Funny you should mention..."

 

I are the RT Commish, took over when the previous moved and the replacement only knew how to Power Point.... Show a picture and read it to the assembly.  I even have a "staff" of an assistant!

 

I feel your pain, LeCastor .  Limiting announcements is critical. Eliminating "death by power point" is important.  Providing interesting, (dare I say) entertaining information is necessary.

 

RT serves , or SHOULD serve several purposes::  Information, a chance to discuss common issues, a chance to schmooze with like minded folks, a chance to connect the face with the name.  I recognized this early on, developed the email contact list,  provided topics some months before the date, and strived to provide speakers, presenters, info of interest.  

My first RT was a podiatrist who spoke about foot care, socks and boot selection, blister prevention and care.  Wow, hadn't  done that before!  I continued:  No printed agendas, everything is written on  a white board on the wall (Sunday school class room).  Everything to hand out/pick up is on a table out in the hall.  Scout cartoons on the walls .  I run the RT like a mini Troop meeting:  I start ON TIME and end ON TIME.  Opening/gathering, PoA,  Announcements (SHORT!) ( Necessary stuff is on the table out front.  Computer references are given in our email newsletter )  , presenter/topic to discuss/exhibitor,   wrap up,  "Commissioner's Minute" , recite the Scout Promise, "Godspeed" and go home.  

 

Unfortunately, we are not allowed any food or refreshments in our meeting space.  We do not use "Breakouts", we meet all in one body (Boy Scouts in this room, Cub Scouts down the hall).  Sometimes, we rearrange the chairs in a circle for open discussion.   In June, we have a cookout, demonstrate some "scout skills"  , the privilege of the cookout is hosted by several Troops, we have use of a nice backyard fire pit.  In July, which is usually considered a dead month (Scouts take a vacation?) so I host a "Oval Table" at a local restaurant , Dutch Treat, and we just visit and talk.   May is "Program Launch"  so we line up a bunch of exhibitors who are eager to present their opportunities to Scouts:  BSA things, museums, County Parks, Climbing walls, Red Cross,  Sea Scouts,  Religious Awards,  last time we had 25 exhibitors, a neighboring District had at least 50 exhibitors. 

 

I have learned that as RTC, I must insist that I  am in control of the event.  I have even politely, gently had to remind my DE that he should ask for time on the agenda....  Things are written on the white board (dates, time, names, etc. )  and if folks want to take notes, they do.   I encourage cooperation and communication between us Scouters. 

 

"The Work is done by whoever shows up", so it is with the RT.   The BSA intended this event as a means to communicate and network.   It becomes whatever is desired and expected by whoever takes on that responsibility.   I realize that RT will never reach everyone, (other things will  need to be attended to) nor will everyone see it as a benefit to be utilized .  I will say , however, that I have doubled our attendance in the past years. 

 

Your mileage may vary, as has been oft said.   See you on the trail.

Edited by SSScout
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Is Luddite a derogatory term or is it okay to use?

 

I think you may use it.  Though, I don't consider myself one (necessarily).  ;)

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....

One of the biggest changes I've noticed is that, moving forward, we will no longer have paper flyers.  Instead, all announcements and brochure-type information will be collected and emailed to all registered Scouters via Constant Contact.  The older Scouters are furious because they "don't check email every day" and/or "don't have the email."  (I'm not trying to be offensive to the older generations! :D )  

 

It's to the point now that I just don't want to go anymore but do anyway because I'm a Unit Commissioner and want to see my unit Scouters and help them stay connected.  Perhaps I'll see that the new changes will be good and that everyone will be a little more informed.

 

FYI, I have not known less about council and district activities, since they went paperless. More on this later.

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Really? Paper? Since we're all using an online forum now,I assume using a google drive and printing what you need isn't beyond anyone. Why waste more paper than necessary?

Edited by Back Pack

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Really? Paper? Since we're all using an online forum now,I assume using a google drive and printing what you need isn't beyond anyone. Why waste more paper than necessary?

emphasis on necessary.

If you have an organization of members whose objective is self-reliance, resourcefulness, and adventure beyond the range of digital media, is it not necessary to communicate with members in ways that deploy tools that cater to those traits?

 

My CO does not give us access to their internet. So when council information is strictly in the cloud, it is not available. (Neither is this forum. Which is okay with me. Although I do miss you all for maybe a second when I'm out in the wild lands around a real campfire. :p)

What I used to spend in ink goes to registration fees. So, if the district hasn't printed the flyers for me, they aren't going back to my unit.

 

To (the great) Seneca district's credit, they do maintain an E-mail list and forward along the most pertinent one or two items under relevant subject heads.

 

But, my advice to all, if you're digitizing announcements, please, just the facts ma'am. Your anchor page listing pertinent announcements should

- drop all logos and graphics.

- plain text, ASCII or default html.

- entries in outline format:

- include only date/times, title, abstract, location, cost, contact, link to details

 

If whatever software you propose to use cannot produce that page of data about everything in your calendar, drop it. That page of one or two sheets should be printed for every scouter who wants it. Trust me, a sheer of paper like that will find its way into your lead scouter's backpack, and he/she will pull it out at Cracker Barrel for youth and adult leader to peruse and prioritize

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LeCastor:  Anytime, look me up, White Oak District, NCAC.

 

Qwazse:  Seneca?   Really?   Tap in.  We may be combining in May with Potomac.....

 

Constant Contact may have advantages , but I haven't been allowed to try them out yet for eNews.   We just do an ordinary email list with a saveable, printable newsletter attached. Seems to work, at least until Verizon insists that I divide the emails into separate listings of 40 addresses each click.   Oh, well.   Semper gumby.

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The RT concept is a good one, but rarely works in reality.

 

They often turn into marathon "announcements" sessions, platforms for the usual scouters to "wax eloquent."

 

Result:  people stay away in droves.   Who's got time for that baloney?

 

If the RT chair is a strong facilitator, there is hope.  But it can be a challenge to keep some district scouters from going on and on and on and on....

 

Still, RT is perceived by many as "another meeting."  And another late dinner, another missed ball game (daddy, why weren't you at my game?), etc.   Just send me the notes and I'll read them when I get a moment to breathe.

 

Our rural district more or less combines a monthly district committee meeting with a type of unofficial RT.  Not on purpose, but it has morphed into that.   We do our district thing, and unit level scouts come to listen in and contribute, ask questions, etc.   Since we are so small, most folks have both district and unit level hats, so it works out anyway.   And it is 1 meeting a month.   We get our business done, sit around and shoot the breeze for a bit, then go home.

Edited by desertrat77

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Oldscout448:  Yes.    Look for the parking lot full of old station wagons!

 

Desertrat:  "The work is done by whoever shows up".    Sounds like a good group.   Pass the Samoas, please....

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