New Roundtable Practices Adopted for 2013
A volunteer Roundtable Task Force was started in 2011. The mission of the roundtable group was to:
- Undertake a comprehensive study of how effectively we are delivering and supporting roundtables in the various types of councils around the country, with a separate focus on the needs of each of our traditional programs: Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Venturing;
- Improve the content and quality of Roundtable communications and training support by identifying and deploying best methods and developing technology resources that will result in more effective administration of roundtables, and
- Coordinate with other task forces and the BSA National Council to jointly develop and deliver the “next generation” of roundtables as we enter our second century of unit service.
Shown below are the task force’s recommendations approved as standard practice beginning in 2013:
Assistant Roundtable Commissioners (name change): Program-specific roundtable commissioners for Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Varsity, and Venturing are responsible for the development and delivery of their monthly meeting agenda and program items. All others who assist these individuals are deemed assistant roundtable commissioners. That negates the need for a staff position. Most important, it allows the assistants to pursue the normal roundtable training and awards structure. Each program-specific roundtable commissioner would be able to have as many assistants as are needed (e.g., Cub Scouts may need several to facilitate their program breakouts while others may not need as many). So, each could have as many as they deem appropriate based on district size, attendance numbers, and breakout groups formed.
The current patches, which consist of the Cub Scout and Boy Scout Roundtable Staff, Varsity Scout Huddle Staff, and Venturing Roundtable Staff, will be replaced with the patch shown at left.
The two positions described below are recommended as standardized operating practice. In large councils, there may be a need for more than one ACC roundtable in order to viably cover a huge number of districts or territory. In small councils one may be fine or perhaps not needed at all. Or in these smaller councils, perhaps an ACC roundtable is needed, but the ADC roundtable isn’t. One or the other seems necessary to give better oversight to the roundtable program since lack of oversight appears to be one of the factors contributing to poor performance! These two positions will also promote the use of technologies to most effectively reach units that do not or cannot attend normal roundtable meetings.
1. Assistant Council Commissioner—Roundtable (new position): this person would report to the council commissioner and conduct an annual council-wide roundtable planning meeting followed up by a midyear review. This process would bring some standardization to district roundtable in terms of content of material by promoting the use of national roundtable guides, and this should help keep meetings interesting and focused on assisting units. It would be recommended that this person visit district roundtables from time to time to review content and attendance. While the position of assistant council commissioner currently exists in some councils, this specific assignment pertaining to roundtable responsibilities is not formalized, and thus a specific job description has been designed.
2. Assistant District Commissioner—Roundtable(new position): This person would report to the district commissioner and work with the district structure, but needs to be responsive to and work in cooperation with the ACC roundtable to see that the annual planning and midyear review programs are well attended by the district program-specific roundtable commissioners. In addition it is a perfect position from which to see that national roundtable guide materials are being used so proper program materials are being given to units. This person could also be the moderator for roundtables held at the same time and place for all program levels within a district. This gives a dynamic to the meeting with broader social opportunities and sheer numbers, both of which can provide energy to an event. This person should be visiting program-specific roundtable groups on at least a quarterly basis to evaluate content and attendance and report such to the district commissioner at commissioner meetings. While the position of assistant district commissioner currently exists in some councils, this specific assignment pertaining to roundtable responsibilities is not formalized, and thus a specific job description has been designed.
Roundtable Best Practices
There are 11 best practice ideas listed below that have been gathered to date. Others will be added as they become available. Specifically, the task force is looking for ways to meet the needs of various geographic groups: urban/suburban, rural, technology-rich, technology-poor, etc.
- Participation increased when attendees were included in the presentation process each month: e.g., lead opening, deliver announcements, lead a song, do the closing minute, etc.
- Send monthly email reminders to leaders at least five to seven days before the roundtable with information about what is planned for the meeting and, when appropriate, offer attending leaders a chance to register for upcoming events or activities before the registration is opened to the rest of the district.
- Divide attendees into patrols so the patrols run much of roundtable, rotating through responsibilities each month. Communities, if appropriate, can set up patrols and then elect a patrol leader. A patrol leaders’ council is conducted at the end of each roundtable to go over assignments for the next month.
- Seek input from participants by conducting quarterly or semiannual start/stop/continue activities.
- Keep attendance, as this allows for recognition of those participating and identification of those not participating, and can lead to tracking of training needs. Have name tags for all attendees.
- Provide social time with snacks. Ask a unit to volunteer in advance to bring the snacks. These can be for pre-meeting or post-meeting as best suits the group’s needs.
- Provide materials for participants to view as part of the pre-meeting. This can often take the place of major announcements if people with “agendas” to push are there ahead of the meeting to share information and discuss programs with participants.
- Provide announcement materials to participants during the pre-meeting in the form of a PowerPoint running (looping) show.
- Rural: Rotate roundtable/forum between the largest communities in the district. Another option is to hold two roundtables/forums per month in different parts of the district if staffing is available. Quarterly meetings are a third option for this group.
- Rural: The Lone Wolf District (covering the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles) of the Golden Spread Council has quarterly roundtable/forum meetings in three different communities. Each of the four months that the meetings are held, the team travels to three different locations and puts on a roundtable three times that month. While not ideal, considering the lack of high-speed Internet availability, it at least brings the message to unit leaders on a somewhat regular basis.
- Urban: In some very urban areas of the East Coast, districts have chosen to have roundtable/forum meetings at times of the day that best work for their attendees. Some hold meetings early, 5 p.m.–5:30 p.m., so folks can come from work and then get home in time to have some family time before children go to bed; others have decided to have meetings later, 8 p.m.–8:30 p.m., so folks can go home first for dinner and family time and then come to roundtable.