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Pebbles to Boulders: ‘Not Often Thought Of’ Key to Success

Tuesday, 28 September 2010 - Posted by Mort Cooper

I have been asked numerous times, “What makes a successful Little Rock Program?” There are many factors to creating a successful program such as instruction, social events, program variety, volunteers, communication, fun and ‘organization’. Yes, I do have to say that plain, old, dry and basic administration is an important key to a successful Little Rock program… any program for that matter.

If the whole system is disjointed, lacks structure, appears to be made up five minutes before going on the ice and leaves more questions than answers, then it will not be long before interest and support for the program will wane. Being organized has many advantages.

Being organized is a terrific volunteer recruitment tool. Volunteers do not want to have their valuable time wasted. Volunteers will jump on a ship that floats because they want to be part of a good thing. Volunteers want to contribute and be active. Volunteers want to be part of a team and achieve goals. Volunteers want to have fun!

If the program allows volunteers to share small portions of their time for the cause, then you will not have any problems in gaining volunteer support. Volunteers do not want to be swamped with too much work. Volunteers do not want kept in the dark as to what is going on. Un-happy volunteers will ‘jump ship’, sooner or later and speak negatively of their experience, making it difficult to recruit replacement volunteers. So being organized can gain the respect of more people than you might think.

Being organized involves communication, both written and verbal. A typical written communication is the pre-season information package sent out in early September. To send the package before the Labour Day weekend, could result in the package being lost in the jumble of papers and other mail, which collects over the summer, because it is summer and everything is more relaxed for summer. It is vacation time don’t you know!!

Speaking from personal experience, I once sent the information packages out in August, because I was a gung-oh curler and thought everyone should think about curling all year long like I do. I found out shortly afterwards, that not everyone thinks the same as I do and I had to replace almost half the packages for they got lost at home, simply because the information was sent out way too soon. Families placed the info on the back burner, because it could be dealt with later, and of course, it became lost.

So what is in the information package?

There will be a cover letter explaining

  1. the registration process
  2. the date of the first day of curling
  3. how curling will be conducted or changes in format
  4. information / reminder about proper equipment for being on ice, as new curlers may not know
  5. the philosophy of the program and any special activities for the season that may assist in the curlers development, such as Skill Awards and bonspiels
  6. a general call for volunteer assistance to the parents, and of course
  7. a reminder for the Little Rockers to tell their friends about the fun they have at curling, to spike recruitment interest.

The information package will have the registration form. On the form will be the standard contact information of name, address, phone number, email address and date of birth. Fees will be clearly noted. Becoming more evident on membership forms will be a membership agreement, including a waiver / release of claims and a note indicating permission to have the child’s name and phone number published in a club directory. A signature of the parent or guardian and date of the signature is required.

On the back of the registration form or on a separate page, will be a medical information form. The standard contact info will be repeated on this form, plus emergency contact information and a secondary contact if the primary contact cannot be reached. Date of birth, health card number, Doctor’s name and phone, Dentist’s name and phone will be located on the form. A space for medications and or existing medical conditions is very helpful for the caring of child if necessary. A statement of direction for medical care of an injured child if the parents cannot be reached will be included and of course, parent or guardian signature and date of signing.

This type of written communication is critical from the curling clubs point of view as part of the club’s risk management practice.

There is more to say about communications and the benefits of quality administration, but I will save that for later and share more thoughts with you next week.




About Mort Cooper
Mort Cooper has been a curling administrator for over 25 years, beginning with 10 years as the Executive / Technical Director for the Ontario Curling Federation. He spent 3 years as the Curling Professional at Brantford Golf and Country followed by 10 years as Club Manager / Ice maker at the Brant Curling Club and one year as the General Manager of Guelph Curling Club. Presently, he is working on a semi-retirement career with a few outdoor pursuits, one of which is a member of the Canadian Ski Patrol System with Snow Valley Ski Resort in Barrie. In a volunteer curling capacity, Mort's career is highlighted with 10 years service as the Technical Advisor with the Uniroyal Goodrich World Junior Curling Championships, and along with his wife Donna, are major contributors to the Tim Hortons Little Rock Resource Guide. Mort acts as a resource on Little Rocks and is a Business of Curling Facilitator with the Canadian Curling Association.

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