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I’m Sorry…You Cannot Have the Round Table List

I love running email round tables. I think those who participate get a lot out of them. Usually a round table will create a list of ideas that would take a number of summer seasons to get through. Unfortunatley, there is a dark side to everything.

Each time I run an email round table I get multiple people asking me for the list without submitting an idea. In fact, I received a total of 17 of these requests for the current “Best Crafts” round table. Now, to be fair, I understand we are short on time and sometimes we are short on ideas, especially if the theme of the round table is not in our wheelhouse. Not everyone does crafts, or has been a part of a pirate theme, etc. However, a round table won’t work if people don’t share.

So instead of constantly responding to these emails to apologize and explain why I won’t send them the final round table list of ideas, I wanted to post my reasons here as a reference.

Here is a perfect example. This is the first of these requests I received about a year ago…

Hi Moose,

I love the idea of an email roundtable. This summer we are having a pirate theme week. It says in your email that only those who submit ideas will get the final list of ideas. I don’t understand this. Actually I think its ridiculous! The reason some of us need ideas is because we have never done a pirate theme before so we don’t have any ideas to submit. Obviously this type of compilation is most needed by those of us who don’t have ideas to submit. Please send me all the information that others send in so I can create a great week for some deserving kids. It is about the kids afterall. Please keep that in mind.

Thank You,


I get emails that are nicer, and also nastier, then this one all the time. This person was not pleased when I respectively said, “No”.

But some part of me agreed with her that it’s the people without ideas and creativity that really need these lists. So I decided I would try a round table where you could submit an idea or not, and the list would be available to everyone regardless. Those of you who have been on my list for that long may remember this.

The results – I got a total of 6 submissions. Nobody wanted to take the time to contribute but everyone wanted the list of ideas.

Now here’s the kicker, everyone was upset. The same people who emailed that I should allow them to have round table lists without contributing emailed me again saying that I was holding back ideas or that they were not pleased with the lack of ideas they received. On top of that, the people who had actually contributed complained that it wasn’t fair that they submitted ideas but everyone, including those who didn’t participate, received them. It was a no win situation for me and I considered not doing anymore round tables.

I understand that not everyone has a pirate idea, an international activity idea, a craft idea or an idea for whatever else the email round table is about. I also understand that everyone’s time is valuable, especially the closer we get to summer. The thing is that I don’t feel it takes much effort to search for a neat or unique craft online (from a laptop or business center if traveling), or from one of the many craft books that nearly all youth organizations have, and submitting that.

I usually get 50-150 submissions which creates a lot of work for me. Between gathering the ideas to going through each email, formatting the submissions, putting it all together and sending the list out I spend on average a full week or two of all my free time, including all day Saturday and Sunday. And I do this all for FREE. I also direct a camp, have other “day-job” responsibilities as well as at-home responsibilities that take up most of my time during the week.  All I ask is that people “pay” by submitting an idea, even if it takes an hour or two to research a neat craft, game or activity and submit it.

The great thing is that the community recreation and the summer camping industries are full of the best people in the world. I truly believe that. Usually when I explan why I run the email round tables the way I do people are very understanding. I hope you are, too.

Thanks to all of you who have participated in past email round tables and I welcome all of you to participate in future ones.

20 Comments

  • Wow, Moose…I’m actually really surprised that people expect something for NOTHING. I’m also really surprised that people would complain and give you a hard time when you’re simply SERVING the greater good…for FREE. I for one was REALLY psyched to have participated in the last round table and extremely appreciative of the awesome resource you compiled for those of us who contributed ideas. Such a compilation is only possible if people SUBMIT…you can’t give anything to the takers if the takers aren’t GIVERS. I’m shocked…and saddened that anyone would send you anything but a KIND email in response to what you do to help your fellow Camp Directors. And you’re right…it’s NOT that hard to find ONE idea somewhere online or in a book to contribute. If you can’t be bothered to put a LITTLE effort towards the cause…then you certainly don’t deserve access to the stockpile. Sheesh. Thanks again, Moose…for all you do for the greater good of our camps…and please continue to stick to your guns and do your thing the way you see fit. I think I speak for many when I say, I DIG WHAT YOU DO.

    • Jennifer, sign up to recieve my newsletter (the form as at the top of the sidebar on each page) and you’ll be notified when I start a new roundtable. The current one is over but there will be a new one sometime in March.

  • Moose, I couldn’t agree more with Amy’s words!! Your work is so appriciated. I find myself disappointed if I forget to send in a submission because I know I am missing out on the incredible ideas of my fellow camp staffers. But I am always upset with myself, never you. Keep up the great work! This is one of the best resources we have available because it’s the voices of many.

  • Thanks Cory, I think you have been in ALL of the roundtables I have done (at least most of them). Thanks to you and everyone else who always submits such great ideas.

  • Curt I completely agree and understand your reasoning about the Roundtables. It doesn’t take that much work to find one idea. BTW I LOVE participating in the Roundtables. Keep them up!!!

    PS if you haven’t done so please sign up for the SCPD forum at the top of this page folks. It is a small but fun community where we share ideas, thoughts, etc. 🙂 🙂

  • Love to be a part of this roundtable. I am special events director at camp in long island. I have been there 5 years and have come up with great color war breaks and amazing events. Love to network and brain storm. Tell me what I can do to become a part of this!!!!

  • Moose,
    Don’t know if this is still going on – “Time Traveler” week, but we are putting together a series of days celebrating the birthdays of ‘old’ cartoons – “Marvin The Martian, Bugs Bunny, Forgetful Jones, as well as “Bert” from Muppets. Will be creating ‘storyboards” that kids can create to include the above characters. Of course, we will have to show some cartoons in order for them to know who we are talking about!
    Hope this helps – we will also be visiting some historic sites in Boston – Freedom Trail, USS Constitution. Also having a Whale Watch cruise with discussion on whaling industry on Cape Cod.
    Thanx
    Gus

    • For anyone wanting to take part in the email roundtables please email me your ideas. The Time Travel roundtable ends tomorrow (March 23, 2012). To be involved in future roundtables please join my email list by using the form at the top of the sidebar. Thank you.

  • Last summer when we did our music theme, we decided to let the children see all diffrent ways music evolved from the years. We showed them 8 track tapes & player, 45’s & 33’s & record player, cassettes & cassette players, boomboxes, discmans, all the way up to ipods. The kids were amazed & loved seeing them.

  • Hey Moose – I don’t have anything to contribute to the list right now – I am sorry for that. But you must know – I appreciate your stand on not giving away the cart so to speak. For those of us who don’t give – we should not take. Good call on your part.
    God Bless,
    Chris

  • I respect your decision and agree with your motives. Thank you for not giving up on those interested in being involved and interested in the benefit of the children in their summer camps.

  • I completely GET IT!!! I run a smaller roundtable with our camping section and I wholeheartedly agree. I have been on the other side of not getting it in early enough – and I make sure that I make submitting to these roundtables a priority because GETTING THEM IS THE BEST. It is completely worth it and I am so thankful that you run this very large and very successful email roundtable. THANKS for your work! 🙂

  • I love being a part of the round tables. The name says it all you have to share to sit at the table and reap the benefit of participation. Please be encouraged that your work is so worthwhile to us out here in the trenches that are putting together youth camps. God bless you!

    • Thats, Kimberly and Susan for weighing in. And thanks to both of you for being such great contributors to the round tables.

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