Daniel B. Maxfield
In 2011 it was recognized that roundtables nationally were having difficulties. Thus, the Roundtable Task Force was created. It spent much time surveying Scouters around the country. The results were very clear and included the following:
- Roundtable needed some organizational/structural attention at the council and district levels.
- Roundtable must be well organized so as not to waste people’s time.
- Announcement time must be reduced
- Roundtable must provide actionable content that includes training and program content.
- Technology usage should be explored as to how to extend the distribution of materials, especially to those not able to attend.
The organizational/structural changes were announced in October 2012, were outlined in the winter 2013 edition of The Commissioner, and are posted on the Commissioners website on the Roundtable Support page.
The 2013–2014 roundtable guides were developed with these concepts in mind. The guides were rolled out at the National Annual Meeting in May 2013, and some of the changes were outlined in the spring 2013 edition of The Commissioner. Links to the guides are also on the Roundtable Support page. (Note that the Roundtable Support page has been fixed and updated with new material. Please visit at www.scouting.org/commissioners/roundtable.)
What is new in these guides? There are four planning outlines that provide options and flexibility to planners in meeting geography, time, and other constraints. In addition, it is being recommended that all roundtable program groups have a common opening with a major “big rock” group topic presentation before splitting into separate program groups. These group topics include charter renewal, special needs, and weather awareness. Also, specific program group “topics of interest” were developed to assist leaders with behavioral issues, long-term camps, and religious emblems and awards, among other topics. In the Cub Scout Roundtable Guide, a fabulous set of materials was designed to assist den leaders with exciting program ideas. Finally, the Troop Program Features series is being redesigned and some of these materials should be released by January 2014.
The technology issue discussion has begun but will require some extensive review of what others are doing and what is and isn’t working. This is addressed further in the “Roundtable Delivery Methods” article elsewhere in this issue and will be the subject of an ongoing review for the next several months.
Releasing the guides in May should give councils time to review the agenda and content recommendations and make plans to conduct a councilwide annual planning conference so all districts are ready to launch an exciting September/October format.
Update work for the next set of roundtable guides will occur between September 2013 and January 2014 and will be ready for publication by May. Changes will include additional big rock topics, additional program group topics of interest, and updated/additional Cub Scout program ideas. Also included will be an expanded technology section and other adjustments to current materials based on input received from those of you using the materials.
If you have not yet reviewed the 2013–2014 guides, it is highly recommended that you do so. If you have already done so, we want to get feedback about what works and what doesn’t to help in making effective revisions for the next update. Also, we would love to hear success stories! Please send thoughts/comments to Dan Maxfield at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good roundtables equal better programs in units, which equal increased youth and unit retention. These are Journey to Excellence goals that roundtable can affect. We hope you have a great year of super roundtables!