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Dimitri Papadopoulos
New member
Username: Papadopoulos

Post Number: 1
Registered: 12-2011
Posted on Sunday, December 18, 2011 - 09:15 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Hi All,

I've been recently appointed the Regional Youth Coordinator for the Region of Laval, Lanaudiere, Laurentide in Quebec (a region in the Greater Montreal Area).

The issue is that the SJA Youth Program in Quebec has been totally extinct since about 2004. So the challenge I'm facing is to begin by resurrecting the program in our region. (easier said than done). :-)

I'm relatively new in SJA, but I do have a respectable amount of experience with Sea and Air Cadets, both as a cadet and officer.

My priority is currently to recruit SJA Cadet Leaders in order to start recruiting cadets. But since all adults I approached are not familiar with the youth program (and that we don't have any youth candidates to begin with) it's very difficult to convince them to get involved. Add to that, that the program is not up yet.

I will greatly appreciate any start-up tips. I would also appreciate a visit to an Ontario youth unit, close to the Quebec border (perhaps around the Cornwall, ON area).

Thank you in advance,

Dimitri Papadopoulos
Regional coordinator -- Youth
Region 6.1, Laval.Laurentide.Lanaudière

(Message edited by Papadopoulos on December 18, 2011)

(Message edited by Papadopoulos on December 18, 2011)
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Hal Rowan
Senior Member
Username: Hrowan

Post Number: 188
Registered: 11-2002
Posted on Monday, December 19, 2011 - 10:26 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

In my first year as a Youth Coordinator (Superintendent) I had 6 members. After changing some of the basics my leadership team became very successful with recruiting. When my Unit hit a membership of high nineties I was told to let the number fall, so we let the number slip to mid fifties before it climbed back up to high sixties when I retired from the position, with a fantastic outlook for the next year on the day I left.

My suggestions, keeping in mind everyone finds different methods that work well in their individual community, beyond the basics (Board Approval, budgets submitted, Youth Leader Courses taken, training space/equipment lined up):

Ensure the material and method of delivery is age appropriate. If the age is more diverse than four years then growth becomes difficult or unsteady because of their general interests and attention span (and yes there can be very advanced twelve year olds and very immature siixteen year olds, but you can move the individuals around as you identify them, although they will want to stay with their peers). At the very least separate your Cadets and Crusaders (and if you ever start a Juniors program, remember that should be run as an almost completely separate component - but that's another topic . . .). The tweens tend to like energy games, while the older high school crowd gravitate towards team building (but you can always slip in an energy game once in awhile to shake them up). ** If your leaders lose track of what is acceptable for each age group, then you will see a steady and rapid decline in numbers. **

If you look under the Divisional Shares website there should be training calendars there that have worked well, or canvass other Units for their Training Calendars specifically. If the weather is not raining or below 10 degrees then you should be outside in your first two years (even the first aid training can be outside for the most part). It's easier to show off your program when the community can see you.

After you have your training program nailed down go to the local elementary schools to recruit their grade 7 and 8 students. If you can get them hooked at that age, you'll have them right through high school in most cases (but you will always have a few youth who are just there to socialize or check out the program for a short term basis - this can be good publicity too!). Trying to go to a high school to recruit directly did not turn out to be the best option for my Unit. By that time they are already committed to sports teams and service clubs and are not as willing to try something completely new. Setting up a booth at a community event or mall display is VERY effective if you do it right.

Make sure that the Youth themselves are a major contributer to the planning and operation of your program. My Corporals did most of the basic administrative tasks (attendance, obtaining/maintaining members uniforms, running energy games or table top activities, etc), while the more senior Corporals and Sergeants were trained to teach and mentor the Junior Corporals and members. All of the NCO's were mentored by Officers who were directly involved in maintaining discipline, or helping push the training along if an NCO was losing the interest of their team. Form teams of six to twelve members (it allows members to feel more inclusive and makes training more personalized than a larger group - smaller classroom sizes work well for SJA too). From your background you have already seen how this can work successfully.

If you can get your Officers lined up now, have a finalized Training Calendar by April, book September appointments with the local elementary schools by May, and line up mall/community displays for August, then you should be able to start your program in late September/early October.

Bonne chance!
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Marika Beaumont
Senior Member
Username: Marika_beaumont

Post Number: 72
Registered: 08-2003
Posted on Saturday, December 24, 2011 - 06:58 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Hi Dimitri
My name is Marika Beaumont and I am the Ontario Provincial Youth Program Advisor. I'm happy to chat directly with you if you want to drop an email directly (marikabeaumont@rogers.com) On this website you can find resources such as the National Youth Leadership Manual which has a section on starting a youth unit. There is also a Community Needs Assessment which is in the resource section at the bottom, also a new recruitment guide that may be helpful. Happy holidays and I look forward to chatting with you.
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Richard Ball
Senior Member
Username: Rick

Post Number: 52
Registered: 07-2004
Posted on Friday, December 30, 2011 - 10:54 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The most import first step would be getting your adult staff picked properly.
Working with youth is a completely different thing than working with adults.
These volunteers must first want to work with youth & be competent enough that they will never make a bad decisions endangering the youth.
Yes mistakes will be made but as long as the youth are never endangered in anyway the other mistakes can be corrected.
Young adults can make good leadership volunteers for a cadet division but can not make up the whole youth leadership team.
Without a strong team the outlook is dim.
With a strong team the outlook can be very positive.
Your staff may also require specific youth orientated training before start up.

Good Luck with your venture: Rick

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