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Club Volunteers - You Can Make a Difference!

The following is thanks to Sue Plewes, Coach and Parent and Volunteer. We hoped it might help us all see our way clearer in this busy world, and stop and think for a moment just how much our Clubs depend upon and need YOUR help. Thanks, Sue, for sharing this with us.

About the Club - "YOUR CLUB"

At the present time, there are about 1500 Skating Clubs in Canada. They represent approximately 200,000 skaters, parents, officials and administrators of all ages, who are registered as Associate Members of the Association. The Clubs hold the voting rights and this control all actions. Each Club may be individual in its specific programs, but all are the same in principle, to meet the CFSA requirements for membership. Clubs exist to provide ice, fun, instruction, competitions and recreation for skaters of all ages and abilities.

To the new skater or parent, the workings of the Club may be somewhat bewildering. They can be made more understandable by asking for a copy of the Club's Constitution and the By-Laws and Rules. Every Club has them and, while they differ in detail, each is a law for that Club's Members. The Constitution sets out the objectives of the Club, the rights and obligations of its Members, the organization and authority of the Board of Directors and Committees, as well as the membership and fee structures. Club By-Laws and Rules are usually published by the Board of Directors to cover day-to-day activities such as conduct on the ice, allocations of ice time to various groups or categories of skaters, dress on the ice, music and its use, rights of coaches, arrangements for lessons, introduction of guests, etc. With this information one should be able to fit into the Club and its activities quickly and comfortably.

The next step is to meet the Club Directors, all of whom are eligible persons (formally called amateurs), volunteers, and the coaches. Together these two groups run the Club.

One group cannot do the job without the other. These people are always ready to answer questions and give help or advice, but they must be asked. They can't predict each Member's needs.

As you settle in, keep your eyes and ears open. Every club needs HELP from its Members. VOLUNTEERS are needed to supervise various sessions, raise funds, make costumes and props for carnivals, run Test Days and Competitions, provide meals for the judges, officials and other workers and be members of the various committees responsible for running the Club.

You are always welcome to attend your Club's Annual General Meeting to speak and vote on your own behalf or that of your child. Most Clubs offer Special or Associate Memberships to parents for this very purpose. Attend your next General Meeting and participate, to ensure that the best interests of the Club are met. Some parents just sit back and let others do the work, using the Club as little more than a baby-sitting service. This is far from fair to other Members, who are trying to make the Club the best it can be. And most of all, unfair to the children, without more people willing to become involved, even just a little bit, there would be no Club, and your child would not be able to enjoy the sport of figure skating and all it has to offer. Each adult should accept at least one task for the Club each year. Find out where help is needed and offer to assist. You will quickly find that when working with THEM THEY become WE and WE are truly part of the Club. Nothing can be accomplished by sitting on the outside complaining about what THEY do or do not do. So... become involved. PARTICIPATE!!!

Many parents find working for the Club and the skaters challenging and satisfying. They become part of the Club and its spirit and learn a great deal about skating and Club operations.

As time goes on, often very little time, the opportunity to serve on the Board of Directors or a Committee may present itself. You may be approached by the Nominating Committee or by voting Members to stand for election, at an Annual General Meeting, or the Board may ask you to accept appointment to a vacant position of the Board. This is a major step that should be accepted only if you are willing to put the best interest of the Club and its Members first. You should also be flattered that you were asked to be part of such an important organization, whose ultimate goal is providing a terrific opportunity to so many children.

Should you accept this challenge, in preparation for an appointment as Director, you should review the Constitution of the Club and its Rules. You should also become familiar with the rules for the conduct of meetings. You may find, in some cases, that each Member of the Board will be assigned a task or tasks that are appropriate to his or her expertise when possible, e.g. Finance, Administration, Program Design, Music, Costumes, Schedules, Beginners, Competitors, etc.

The decisions of the Board are made in the names of all the Directors, including those who may have opposed them. On motions put forward by other Directors you must be the one to ask questions, if you have any. Decisions should be carefully considered. If you do not understand all the details or ramifications, ASK. The answers will probably help others to see more clearly also. The ethics of Board Members require that you accept each and every agreed decision and support it without outside comment or further opposition.

Hopefully, this will provide some insight as to how the Club operates and the necessity of Volunteers willing to give a little of their time to help "THE CHILDREN." They are counting on you!

Parents/Guardians - Your Role

Parents are the backbone of every Club.

• They fill many different roles, such as Member of the Club Executive, Session Monitor, Competition Worker, Test Day Worker and/or Supplier of food for the Judges, Carnival Convenor, Costume Sewer, Ticket Seller, Fund Raiser, and much, much more... and in the end PAYER OF THE SKATING BILLS.

• Parents should recognize that the Club is being run for the benefit of all Members, not just one group or their skater. The atmosphere in any Club is, to a great extent, set by the adults who are in attendance at the Club's Sessions, as well as by the skaters on the ice. In order to prosper, every Club needs skaters of all ages and levels. It is very much a UNITED WE STAND DIVIDED WE FALL situation. Parents often forget this concept and try to influence Club decisions to the benefit of only their child. In many cases, individuals acting in this way do not realize that their actions are damaging the Club.

Parents should work for the Club. Skating Clubs are established and run by the parents of the skaters. In addition, we now have Skating Schools that are operated by coaches. Each and every parent has a responsibility to contribute to the operation of their skater's Club or School, in one way or another. Paying fees is not enough. There must be something you can do. Ask the Executive, offer your services and describe your capabilities:

  • Accounting - financial or competitions
  • Engineering - stage construction, lighting, etc.
  • Writing newsletters, programs, correspondence
  • Cooking judges' meals, Club suppers
  • Sewing costumes for Carnival or competitions
  • Management Club Executive, Carnival Chairman
• Parents should not criticize the performances of any skaters. Criticism of a skater's performance by casual comments in the stands, is inconsiderate and unproductive. Public criticism of one's own skater is unseemly and confidence breaking for the skater. Such criticism is often coupled with parental coaching from the stands. This is generally counter-productive to the professional teaching and training being paid for by the parent.

• Parents should not attempt to discipline any skater on the ice. Most skaters are children who make mistakes, act up or get in the way. The coaches and the Executive are responsible for enforcing the rules. Report any significant problems to the Executive and let them resolve it. When parents become unnecessarily involved, animosities may be built that tend to damage the rapport within the Club and the friendly relationships between the skaters.

• Parents are responsible for transporting the skaters to the arena and home. A skater who is late for a session causes delays in lessons and group practices, which may cause a coach or skater(s) to miss a lesson. Parents "pooling" transportation can make things easier for many.

Thanks to all our Club Volunteers who do give so much to our skaters and our sport!

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