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Pebbles to Boulders: Where to Find the Support?

You have got this great idea that you want to create a Little Rock program at your curling club. Not just a one-time fun spiel involving the kids and their families, but a full fledged 20 week program to encourage in curling the 6 years of age and up sector of our community. While this is terrific and admirable, you will need help and support to make the development of a program a reality. Some of the support you are looking for, you will only need at the on-set and some of the support you will need certainly will have to be on-going. Let us take this opportunity to look at several areas to find support.

Baddeck Curling Club (Nova Scotia) Little Rocks Program

The marketplace, or interest level; is there enough interest in families of the age group to warrant the effort to develop a program and to sustain it? What is needed is an outline showing which families are in support of starting Little Rocks and maybe, just maybe, can you point out the support of future families. The sustainability of the program is critical, because no organization wants to invest in equipment that in a few years will be put on the shelf to collect dust. Soooo, you now ask, “How many is enough to show interest?” I cannot answer that. It will vary from club to club, community to community. There are some clubs, which operate Little Rock programs with as few as one sheet of curlers. Factors influencing interest and desirable numbers are the size of your club, how many other clubs are in your area and the size of your community. Some demographic study might be needed here to find the support. Stats Canada can help on-line, as the results of the Census in your community are readily available.

Just as an aside and a subject for another day, when you are checking with families about their interest to join Little Rocks, be sure to ask them about volunteering to operate the program. We’ll look more closely at volunteers later in the season.

The Board of Directors is the obvious group you need to gain support. It is their decision on behalf the whole club, which will determine if a Little Rock section will be created at the club. They have a good number of factors to consider such as ice allocation, lounge space, equipment, staffing and building concerns, ice preparation and care, and most certainly, MONEY. So, before you approach the Board of Directors, you may be wise to answer some of the questions above and gain support from other areas first.

You will want to consider gaining support from other sections of the club. Now you say, “Why would the other sections of the club be concerned about a Little Rock section? “

The addition of another section to the club could influence ice usage by other groups; and could influence the budget of the club. Other sections of the club might not take kindly to this. At the same-time, other sections could be a source of financial support, as they have fundraising potential and could offer seed funds to get the Little Rock section off the ground. So it is important to talk these folks and be sure to gain their support, before you approach the Board of Directors.

The single most important person you want to gain the support is the Ice Maker. If it is anything like at our house, if Mom (we call her the Queen Bee) ain’t happy, then nobody is happy. At curling clubs, the Ice Maker does a lot of work to prepare the ice for each curlers enjoyment. By adding a new section to the club, you could be adding to their already busy workload. The Ice Maker may have concerns about ice care with little people on the ice. So you want to approach the Ice Maker to tell them how you see the on ice activity being run and the training the Little Rockers will be getting to observe proper conduct to ensure ice quality. You want to keep the Ice Maker happy and involved with your process; you just might need a favour or two down the road that only the Ice Maker can help you with. Plus, for the program, you might want the Ice Maker to do some modifications to the ice and ice shed at the time of ice installation, which will enhance the quality of the instruction for the program and enjoyment of the kids. We’ll talk about ice set up later in the season too.

Money, Money, Money! A type of support is the financial considerations. While budgeting and fundraising is a topic completely on its own, it does warrant mention here. You need to consider the support (financial) that will be generated from within the section and the support that will be needed from outside the section. Fees and fundraising will have to be thought out, along with expenses, such as the capital cost of special rocks and brushes, and other equipment such as sliders (or sliding tape), and operational supplies like manuals, training for volunteer instructors, prizes and fun stuff.

Sponsor support could be arranged, but these days is not easy to come by and does take a special effort. Sponsors, such as local companies or service clubs, could help out with one-time costs of rocks and brushes. Or they just might like to help offset your operational expenses for long-term support for sponsoring the whole section. Again, that is a topic all of its own for another day.

Schedule! Yes you need the support the of the curling club schedule. Or maybe better said the support the committee or Club Manager who puts the club schedule together. When do you want to conduct the Little Rock program? It’ll likely be at the time or near the time of the Junior section. Regardless, the schedule of curling activity at the club is factored with everything that takes place at the club like special events, outside functions and janitorial services. If it is not on the schedule, then the lines of communication are weakened. Oh, and not to say that you might want to operate a special event, such as a Little Rock bonspiel as a fundraiser and you’ll need the support of the schedule, and the other sections if your event might influence their section.

See what I mean, get your support in order (it might take a little while to create the support) and certainly do not try to tackle it all yourself…. Please use the help, I mean, the support of others.