I began attending monthly district roundtable training meetings shortly after becoming an assistant scoutmaster in 1980. I was a firm believer that this ninety minute training session would help me in my new position. I still attend many roundtables, even though I have been in Scouting long enough to conduct the meetings myself. I still pick up a couple things here and there that are useful.
Those first years of roundtables were critical in my leadership training. Oh yes, I did also attend the weekend scout leader training session and the yearly Scouting University, but it was during the roundtables that I really got to know the other Scout leaders in my area.
I live in Melrose, a city of approximately 3000 people. Nearby cities are 6-7 miles apart with a lot of farm land between them. Interstate 94 runs through the south portion of Melrose. The Central Minnesota Council office is located in St. Cloud, thirty five miles from my home. A couple leaders from neighboring cities and I would carpool to the meetings. During that 30 minute drive we would discuss various Scouting topics and sometimes talk about current problems we had within our troops. The same thing would happen on the way home, although the meeting may have given us a new topic to discuss.
One advantage in attending these monthly meetings was forming new friendships with my fellow Scouters. I am pretty shy by nature so it was great to be able to share experiences and to have them there to help solve problems.
The members of the carpool soon decided to stop for supper after the roundtables since we did not have the time to eat properly between getting home from work and getting to the meeting. We made a habit of going to Bonanza in St. Cloud. These “after-roundtable roundtables, as I liked to call them, became another important element of my training and friendship making. It did not take long for other Scouters to discover our after-roundtable roundtables. There were times when we would have eight to ten leaders, in Scout uniform, sitting at a table in Bonanza, shooting the breeze and solving all of the problems in Scouting. We had a great time.
Currently, I am the only member of those early roundtable years that is still involved in Scouting, at least locally. Most of those guys have retired from Scouting or moved on to other locations. I, however, am still making new friends at the roundtables. A couple months ago, four of us stopped at a local dining place after the meeting for some snacks and something to drink. We talked about Scouts, the Order of the Arrow, and the council’s camp.
Who knows… Maybe the after-roundtable roundtables will become popular once again.