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Thread: District Meetings

  1. #1
    Keith at 2M Keith at 2M's Avatar
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    District Meetings

    Yesterday I attended my first DESLs meeting and have come away totally demoralised and seriously thinking of cancelling my appointment. The meeting ran for just under two hours in which time the only decisions reached were the dates of the next meetings. I came away thinking that was two hours of my life I will never get back.

    No District events were planned and individual Units' forthcoming programmes were not even mentioned, so there was no opportunity either to join in, which I thought was the difference between Explorer Scouting and Ventures, or to poach any good ideas. In the last 24 months the only 'District' event for Explorers has been St George's Day.

    Additionally I was advised that decisions made 8 years ago could not be re-visited, even though my Explorers had requested that I raise the issue.

    50% of the District's units were represented, although the missing units account for over 65% of the District's Explorers.

    How does this compare with other Districts' District Meetings? What do you hope to get out of them, do you bother attending and what is the attendance rate like? How do you share ideas and do you offer any of your meetings/activities to other Units?
    The Roman Empire did not become great by holding meetings. It did so by killing everyone that opposed their point of view.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Bushfella's Avatar
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    Aaaaaaaargh! By comparison you had a fantastic turnout for a District meeting.

    Seriously, we used to have fantastic meetings. The DC held them once a month and we had a great turnout.

    There was Flag Break, notices, an game/ activity/ presentation so that we all went away with something from the meting, and then section meetings where plans were made for activities and events. They worked well and turnout would have represented every Group in the District and numbers could be as high as 30-40.

    That DC left and the replacement turned the Forums into recitals of notices, ineffective section meetings and home. In a short time we were down to maybe three Group attending and always the same small group of people.

    I tried to encourage my team to attend, but the younger Leaders felt frozen out and their ideas were never accepted, so they stopped going.

    Now, apart from Beavers and an odd Cub meeting, there are no District meetings, no District newsletter, nothing. So think yourself lucky you had the turnout you had!
    Ewan Scott

    It seems that there are a lot of Nawyecka Comanch around....





    Nawyecka Comanch'": "Means roundabout--man says he's going one way, means to go t'other" Ethan Edwards - The Searchers



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  3. #3
    Map Geek marcush's Avatar
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    2 hours and you only decided next meeting WOW! District meeting should be as quick as possible getting the most out of them.

    Rule 66. A map and compass offers no protection against getting horribly lost.

  4. #4
    Senior Member marcswales's Avatar
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    I remember those!

    Meeting for 19:00, turn up at 18:45, to a Scout Hall ( always the same one, “because it’s so convienient”) that was locked. Key holder would turn up at about 18:58
    Go into cold hall, start getting tables and chairs out, somone starts making tea.
    Tea drunk it’s now 19:20,” We’ll just wait a few minutes for the latecomers”
    19:30 minutes of last meeting handed out. Hall now starting to warm up.
    Minutes agreed
    “ There haven’t been any agendered items sent it , so we will just go through last meetings minutes”
    Discusiion of last meeting, which was discussion of previous meeting.
    20:20 “Right any other business? No one has sent anything in so we just go around the table”
    21:10 “ we will have to leave anything else for the next meeting”

    I stopped going. He same amount of work got done and I gained an evening
    Previously CSL/ ASL now Witch Master General ( West) ( Poacher turned gamekeeper!)
    Refugee from Dodge, washed up on the shore of a District that has read POR.

  5. #5
    ESL and DESC ianw's Avatar
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    Keith, why would you cancel your appointment over a district meeting? How would that help the young people in your unit?

    So, what actually did happen at the meeting then? Someone must have chuntered on about *something* for two hours!

    Last DESLs meeting we had was about two weeks after summer camp, we sorted out peoples expenses, had a pint, talked about what happened on summer camp, talked about upcoming camps, talked about next years summer camp, pencilled in a few joint meetings for this term. Oh, and we had a right laugh doing it. Not the most *structured* meeting, but hey.

    I would guess if you want to raise it with your DESC, then I would couch it in positive terms, like "I would find it useful if we shared programme ideas" or "could notices be emailed out so we could spend more time planning district events?".

    It probably helps that there are only three units in the district.

    Hmm, ought to have another DESL meeting, curry I think.

    Ian
    Ian Wilkins
    Farnham District Explorer Scout Commissioner

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  6. #6
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    Why would you cancel your appointment because the district meeting is rubbish?

    I assume you're Scouting as a section leader because you like working with the young people. In which case, you can keep doing that. If you want to do joint activities, get in touch with the other leaders, at least some of whom you'll have now met as a result of the district meeting and arrange it on a direct basis.

  7. #7
    Senior Member big chris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith at 2M View Post
    Yesterday I attended my first DESLs meeting and have come away totally demoralised and seriously thinking of cancelling my appointment. The meeting ran for just under two hours in which time the only decisions reached were the dates of the next meetings. I came away thinking that was two hours of my life I will never get back.

    No District events were planned and individual Units' forthcoming programmes were not even mentioned, so there was no opportunity either to join in, which I thought was the difference between Explorer Scouting and Ventures, or to poach any good ideas. In the last 24 months the only 'District' event for Explorers has been St George's Day.

    Additionally I was advised that decisions made 8 years ago could not be re-visited, even though my Explorers had requested that I raise the issue.

    50% of the District's units were represented, although the missing units account for over 65% of the District's Explorers.

    How does this compare with other Districts' District Meetings? What do you hope to get out of them, do you bother attending and what is the attendance rate like? How do you share ideas and do you offer any of your meetings/activities to other Units?
    Been through thus kind of thing.. Here is my advice:

    Raise the Jolly roger and focus on your kids. Run your best possible programme.
    Ignore the stupid people until they stop you running your programme.

    Do not argue over the minutiae of unit names, scarf colours etc. I conceded those battles before they had started.

    Keep to POR. Or at least do your best to. It's not your fault if others break it but you have followed the rules.

    Do not fight until they stop you playing the game of scouting. Then go for them. But if your unit is doing cool stuff... Who cares? Scouting is full of stupid people, would that it weren't but we have to put up with them. Stupid people will always be stupid... You can't change that but can can normally defeat pointless local rules. The trick is to choose your battles. Only fight a battle that needs to be won and there are surprisingly few of them.

    Your unit, your kids, your game.

    Sent from my HTC Sensation XE with Beats Audio using Tapatalk 2

  8. #8
    Senior Member Bushfella's Avatar
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    Chris is right. They will not like when you raise the Jolly Roger, but what are they going to do if your Unit/ Group is successful and kids are having a good time in Scouting?

    Reminds me, time to replace the old Jolly Roger, he's been flying so long that he's a bit frayed and weather worn. :-)
    Ewan Scott

    It seems that there are a lot of Nawyecka Comanch around....





    Nawyecka Comanch'": "Means roundabout--man says he's going one way, means to go t'other" Ethan Edwards - The Searchers



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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scary Monster View Post
    Why would you cancel your appointment because the district meeting is rubbish?

    I assume you're Scouting as a section leader because you like working with the young people. In which case, you can keep doing that. If you want to do joint activities, get in touch with the other leaders, at least some of whom you'll have now met as a result of the district meeting and arrange it on a direct basis.
    I agree - but if you have been to a meeting like this one and are totally demoralised etc it makes you think and then you need a pick up to realise that you don't need to attend these things for that type of 'support'.

  10. #10
    Scout Leader (Bosun) Nick's Avatar
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    Been to many similar meetings both at work and Scouts, it can be amazing what a change in chairman can make - more achieved in 1/2 hr than in the previous 18 months of meetings!

    Try having an agenda, if it isn't on the agenda then it isn't discussed. Agenda closes the day before the meeting and AOB is reserved for the few things that are triggered by discussions earlier in the meeting. Have a detailed agenda, break topics down to 5 minute slots and be harsh with over running. The first time I attended a meeting with such a detailed agenda I was very unsure, at the end I was amazed by what had been achieved.

    If however you have a meeting organizer that loves the sound of their own voice, is a control nut and vets every agenda item before it is put on the agenda removing any that aren't their idea then as other have suggested raise the old Jolly Roger and go your own way!

    Nick

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    Been to many similar meetings both at work and Scouts, it can be amazing what a change in chairman can make - more achieved in 1/2 hr than in the previous 18 months of meetings!

    SNIP

    Nick
    Whilst there is a lot of truth in what you say, the District Meetings involving section leaders are Chaired by the respective Commissioner so to change the Chairman would be to change the Commissioner; which in some cases may be needed, but there are others who are good at what they do but can't chair a meeting to save their life.

  12. #12
    Grey but not that old Alfbranch's Avatar
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    My course of acton would be to take the meeting by the scruff on the neck and cut off all the ramling conversatios and move things along to he next point.

    Have things like unit programs added to the agenda and keep pushing the decision from 8 years ago until its debated. Choose to make his meeting effective in future particularly by etting the other units involved
    Alf

    Group Scout leader 1st Hensingham Scouts Western Lakes District
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    Only use sharp knives. Blunt knives are more dangerous.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Bushfella's Avatar
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    was advised that decisions made 8 years ago could not be re-visited
    This is always used by those opposing any change. The reality is that one committee can change the decision of the previous. You can even contest and alter the deeds to property if you wish (at a price). Nothing is written in stone, especially by a DEC.
    Ewan Scott

    It seems that there are a lot of Nawyecka Comanch around....





    Nawyecka Comanch'": "Means roundabout--man says he's going one way, means to go t'other" Ethan Edwards - The Searchers



    www.upperdearnevalleynavigators.org.uk

  14. #14
    Senior Member Epona's Avatar
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    Much depends on the chairing of a meeting -- which is a skill. Here's a set of guidlines I was given as a local councillor many years ago:

    1. Put together an agenda. An agenda is essential, and circulate it in advance so everyone knows where the meeting is, what time it is and what it’s about.
    2. Keep a close eye on the clock; everyone’s time is valuable. Always start a meeting on time (if people aren’t there it’s their problem, not everybody’s). Finishing a meeting at the scheduled time is vital (even if you start late, you should still aim to finish on time). If you are concerned about overrun then assign a duration to each agenda item and stick to it; if you are really concerned about time establish tough speaking limits at the start.
    3. Assign a note taker. It’s impossible to concentrate on chairing while making accurate records, don’t try.
    4. For a meeting to work well, everyone needs to feel welcome, included and informed. Organise someone to welcome people and distribute agendas etc as they arrive. Never let a new person sit ignored while everyone else chats. Introduce yourself and other speakers at the start of the meeting. If it is a small meeting, ask everyone to introduce themselves.
    5. Stick to the agenda item under discussion. If people try to raise other issues acknowledge this but don’t refocus. Assign these topics to ‘Any Other Business’ at the end, or to informal discussion after the meeting, or to an agenda item at the next meeting.
    6. Stop private conversations and asides as soon as they start.
    7. Make sure all viewpoints get heard, including those you disagree with. There are two sides to this: restraining those who are over keen on the sound of their own voice, and encouraging those who are quiet, nervous or new to meetings.
    8. If lots of people want to speak, keep a list of whose turn it is to speak next to remind you. Make sure people know you have noticed that they want to speak.
    9. Give preference to people who haven’t spoken before. Encourage everyone to put their point of view.
    10. Stop people from interrupting. But make sure you don’t forget to come back to the person who interrupted when it’s their turn.
    11. Listen carefully to what people are saying, and make sure their suggestions are considered by the meeting. Ensure that people expressing unpopular or minority views get heard properly and aren’t intimidated out of saying what they think.
    12. Before you move on to the next item, go over what’s been agreed and who is to do it. This is a way of checking you did all agree the same thing and helps the minute-taker to get a clear record. Don’t assume silence means agreement.

  15. #15
    Keith at 2M Keith at 2M's Avatar
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    I think almost all of Epona's excellent guidelines were ignored, there seemed to be a general rule that the fewer Explorers you had in your unit, the more you had to say.

    I have taken Chris' advice and saved myself four evenings next year already. Thanks
    The Roman Empire did not become great by holding meetings. It did so by killing everyone that opposed their point of view.

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