By Annaleis Smith
Aug 18, 2015

Why I go to Roundtable

Roundtable –  Isn’t it just “one more meeting”?  I don’t have time to go to Roundtable.  I’ve been a Scout leader for SO long I just don’t get anything out of Roundtable anymore. I went to Roundtable once and it was… boring, silly, confusing—pick your adjective. I was told I don’t need to go to Roundtable.  Those are just some of the questions and statements I have heard made about roundtable over the years.  I know there are some very legitimate reasons for not attending like it conflicts with your work schedule or such but for most Scout leaders their reasons are really just excuses or justifications.

roundtableMe? I love roundtable!  I attend not only my district’s roundtable but sometimes other districts’ roundtables as well.  In fact, whenever I visit my Mom in northern California, I look to see if there happens to be a roundtable scheduled while I’m there— unfortunately that hasn’t happened yet, darn it!  Let me tell you why I attend Roundtable and why I think roundtable is such a valuable tool that every Scout leader should take advantage of.  I’ll do so by answering the questions/statements put forth in my opening paragraph.

Isn’t it just “one more meeting”?
 – It’s not a meeting just to have a meeting—that would be silly.  There are some very specific purposes for roundtable: to get and share ideas, to learn about new programs and policies, to get answers and clarifications to your questions, to inspire and motivate and to meet other Scout leaders.  There are SO many benefits that can be gained by attending roundtable that I can’t possibly give a detailed explanation of them all.  It’s true that as LDS Scouters some of us already attend a lot of meetings and I choose to believe that we wouldn’t be asked to attend one more if there wasn’t a benefit to attending.

I don’t have time to go to Roundtable.  –  Attending roundtable can actually save you time.  At roundtable, ideas are shared for the next month of program.  Generally these are ideas that have already been tested, used, etc.  This saves you the time of figuring it out yourself.  It’s the old saying “Why re-invent the wheel”  if someone is going to do the work for you and hand you ideas… It just seems like a no-brainer to me. If you are not getting the kind of info that helps save you time, let your roundtable staff know what you are looking for.  Believe me, they want to make it worth your time to attend also—not to mention worth their time to prepare for!

I’ve been a Scout leader for SO long I just don’t get anything out of Roundtable anymore. – If this is you, you are needed at roundtable to help share ideas, to encourage new leaders and to share your experiences too.  You just might be the perfect person to volunteer to be on roundtable staff too.  Those brand new leaders need your experience and wisdom shared with them.  Most of the people teaching and leading at roundtable are there as volunteers and I have never met a roundtable commissioner yet who has too many volunteers.  In fact the more volunteers there are, the more we can spread the assignments around and the less each person has to do.  There are big job and small that need done.  I bet there is something you could do to help improve your roundtable and make it better for everyone.  I have enjoyed roundtable even more since I began volunteering on roundtable staff.  Maybe you need to attend roundtable not to help you, but to help someone else.

I went to Roundtable once and it was… boring… silly… confusing… (add your own reason) – If you are judging your roundtable experience on just once do you think you have given it a fair shot?  Roundtable, like Scouting in general, has some unique language and procedures.  Cub Scout roundtable in particular can seem too silly or juevenile for some.  “Do we really need to sing these songs?  Do these cheers?” YES we do!  We are modeling the types of fun that should happen in your dens and packs.  If you can’t do it along with 50 other leaders will you feel comfortable leading your boys in it?  Think of it as a practice run before your meeting.  If it was confusing or boring or strange… give it another try, or two or three.  Sometimes it takes a while to get the hang of something new.  And if it is really bad, let your district leadership know.  Like I said above, the roundtable staff really wants to make this a helpful, meaningful meeting that you want to attend.  The thing is, they don’t know what you want if you don’t tell them.  If for some reason you decide that roundtable is not worth your time, at the very least, don’t go without letting someone (someone who can do something about it) know WHY you don’t feel it’s worth attending, or it probably won’t change.  And if you feel that way, odds are there are other leaders that feel the same way.

My Bishop said I didn’t need to go to Roundtable –  To that I say…When is the last time he went?  Does he really understand the potential?  My primary president said that same thing to me 12 years ago. “There is this meeting called roundtable but you don’t need to go to that” So you know what I did?  I went to roundtable—just to see what it was that she thought I didn’t need to attend.  Well, I loved it and have been attending ever since.  No one HAS to go to roundtable, we each get to make that decision for ourselves but when a tool (like roundtable) is handed to you (by the district) to help make your job as a scout leader easier, why would you not take advantage of it?  Why would your bishop tell you to make it harder on yourself?  I understand if a bishop doesn’t want to tell you that you have to go, but he should at least let you know about this resource and let you decide for yourself if it’s worth your time to go.

Skunk and Me2It’s just not a priority for me, I’m SO busy –  I understand that sometimes other things come up on roundtable night that must take priority but I believe if we put it on our schedules and treat it as a priority then we will get more out of it than if it’s a “well maybe I’ll go if something else doesn’t come up”. We can always find other things to do.  Over the years I have learned that when I go with the right (positive) attitude I always learn something new and useful.  Sure, I have been to some roundtables where it’s a struggle to focus my attention and some where it wasn’t until the cracker-barrel or fellowshipping time at the end that I finally found that nugget of info that made it worth going, but overall roundtable has been well worth my time to attend because I decided to make it a priority.  You know that old saying “You get out of it, what you put into it” This is true with roundtable as much as anything else.

I’m sure there are lots more reasons that scout leaders give for not attending roundtable and I’m sure there are lots more reasons that could be given in support of attending roundtable.  If you go—great! If you go occasionally—try to go more often.  If you haven’t gone in a while or never—Go!  The more leaders that attend, the more ideas that get shared, the more enthusiasm and energy there is and the more fun it can be.  Roundtable can be a valuable tool—use it and do what you can to help make it a more useful tool for everyone.  Let me end by saying… Roundtable is not a meeting you attend, it’s a meeting you participate in.  It’s called “roundtable” for a reason.  Like King Arthur and his knights of the roundtable, everyone should have a voice.  Everyone has something to offer. Roundtable works best when…

Author:  Annaleis Smith | Assistant Council Commissioner for Cub Scouting Utah National Parks Council, BSA


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