NOAC 2006
Arrowmen | Contingent Leaders | Parents | Professionals | Staff
October 23, 2021
NOAC 2006 - Communication

Communication

Promoting your NOAC trip and recruiting participants is a difficult task. However, the time between recruiting your contingent and the actual trip is still a busy one. During this time, your contingent members will need to prepare and pay for their trip. Participants will need to figure out what to bring with them to NOAC, what classes they want to take, and what events and activities they plan to participate in. Their parents will also be eager for information about fees and emergency contact information. Without proper communication and coordination during this time, the momentum and enthusiasm gained through good NOAC promotions can quickly be lost. It’s up to the contingent leader and adviser to convey all important information to parents and their families, and then make sure any problems are identified and solved quickly.

This section is dedicated to helping you learn what should be communicated, how it can best be conveyed, and why special considerations may be needed at times to ensure the entire contingent learns everything it should. With proper communication, the period of preparation before leaving for NOAC will be a breeze. Navigate through this section with the subject links below:

Communicating with the Contingent
The First Meeting
The Second Meeting
The Final Meeting
Communicating with Parents
The First Parents Meeting
The Second Parents Meeting
Communicating with the Lodge and Council
Meeting Agenda



Communicating with the Contingent

Probably the best way to stay in touch with the contingent is through face-to-face meetings. Starting about January, once recruitment is complete or finishing, the contingent should begin to meet monthly or every six weeks. As summer begins, it might even be necessary to meet more frequently so final preparations can be made.

Meeting in person helps the group in two big ways. First, it provides a great place to give out new information in an environment where questions can be asked and answered easily and where everyone can get the same information. Second, face-to-face meetings provide a great opportunity for contingent fellowship. When members get to know one another before the trip, everyone will work better as a team and participants will have a greater NOAC experience.

Make sure every meeting has a purpose and an activity or fellowship aspect. Providing food for meetings is also a simple way to keep meetings effective and participants happy. Some meetings might even be held at the same time as parent meetings. Meetings for parents are discussed a little later.

Planning contingent meetings will take some work, but it will be well worth it. First, figure out when each meeting will be and make a calendar of important dates to be distributed to each contingent member. Other dates on the calendar should include when fees are due and the deadline for registering for activities or classes. Second, every participant should be called two weeks before each meeting to remind them. These calls can also coincide with distribution of information through email like rosters or calendars and help give participants warning that they should check for an important email as well as prepare for the next meeting.

If the contingent is able to meet monthly then a few of the meetings can be done in conjunction with other lodge events. However, try to keep the meetings somewhat separate from other duties so that every member can fully participate without any distractions. NOAC contingents often contain prominent lodge leaders, so scheduling meetings that conflict with participants’ existing lodge responsibilities should be avoided where possible.

If the contingent cannot meet at least every six weeks, then it should at least meet once or twice in person. If one or two meetings are all that is possible, it’s best not to schedule them over another event. Making them a two-day weekend event will make sure that everything gets accomplished.

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The First Meeting

The first meeting can be largely informational. Travel itineraries, fee payment schedules, calendars, lists of needed equipment and other related materials can be given out or discussed. Discussing the materials, answering questions and just introducing everyone should take up the entire meeting and get the contingent on the road to preparation.

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Second Meeting

One face-to-face meeting should be devoted to deciding what activities the contingent wants to participate in. Such activities include ceremony and dance evaluations, sports teams, Founders’ Day booths, and a lodge history display for the OA Museum. Making these decisions with the entire group will ensure everyone’s opinion is included and members can begin looking forward to NOAC’s many exciting activities. Because the deadline for activity registration is in late May and some activities have limited space, any meeting where the contingent chooses its participation should occur no later than early April to make sure the contingent can have its pick. To further ensure this, the contingent leader and adviser need to check with the national web site and print off the latest list of available activities. (www.oa-bsa.org) If an internet connection is possible at the meeting place, it might even be helpful to log onto the site during the meeting and actually register for the activities once the contingent has picked what it wants to do.

Also at this meeting, or if time allows an additional meeting might cover each participant’s class registration. First-time NOAC attendees will often have questions about the various training programs, which will be right for them and their jobs, and how they can register. Answering all of these questions at once will make the process smoother for everyone. Discussing the classes a group can also help by allowing members to compare schedules and possibly split classes with a friend so that both participants can compare after the classes and gain both classes’ lessons. To make sure everyone meets the deadline, this meeting should also be held in the early Spring and no later than early April. Before this meeting, the contingent leadership needs to check the web site for updated class lists or descriptions and bring them with him. To make the meeting very effective, plan to hold it somewhere with wireless internet access. Then arrange for a few laptops with wireless capability to be brought to the meeting. With this wireless computer lab available, the contingent can not only discuss what classes they might want to take, they can also register at the meeting so they will not forget later. If on-site registration is not possible, make sure the participants register as soon as they can after the meeting so they will not forget and their choices will be fresh in their mind. Another option would be to have one of the contingent leaders take care of registration for the participants after figuring out what each individual requests.

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Final Meeting

Finally, a month to two weeks before NOAC, the contingent should meet to go through a shake-down meeting that will cover what they need to bring on the trip. When the first packet of information is distributed at or before the first contingent meeting, it should include a list of required and preferable gear for each participant to bring. Therefore, the purpose of the shake-down is not to distribute or even revise such a list, but instead to have every participant bring what they plan to pack to the meeting. This can be especially helpful if the contingent is going to travel by plane, train or bus and the amount and size of bags is limited for each participant. It also allows members a few weeks to get any items they are missing or to figure out how they can decrease their bag’s size.

It may even be necessary or beneficial to have separate meetings, or separate times after a full contingent meeting, for smaller groups working on specific activities. These might include practices for ceremonialists or dancers, more time for a lodge history or Founders’ Day displays to be completed, or time so other special committees can finalize their projects. Assigning an adult adviser to each group would also help so that the contingent leadership doesn't have to attend every small group meeting.

As should be obvious by now, there are many reasons to have multiple face-to-face meetings as a contingent. Extra effort should be made to hold actual meetings even if the difficulties of scheduling or distance seem daunting. The benefits of meeting together will yield a better NOAC experience and should easily outweigh the trouble that just emails or phone calls provide.

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Communicating with Parents

Parents are often just as excited as their sons about NOAC and they will undoubtedly have many questions about the trip. The contingent leadership must make sure to keep parents well-informed and always be ready to answer parents’ questions. Meetings, phones and emails should all be used to communicate with parents and help them prepare for NOAC.
Sporadic parent meetings are the best way to get a lot of information out to everyone who needs it and still answer each parent’s questions. At least two or three of these meetings should be scheduled and included on the calendar distributed to participants after they have registered.

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First Parents Meeting

The first parent meeting should take place early on in the preparation phase. At this meeting the contingent leadership can hand out packets of information including calendars, fee descriptions, rosters, required gear lists and travel itineraries. Scheduling this at the same time as the first contingent meeting will help, since many of the same questions will come up with both groups. There will never be a better opportunity to establish a good relationship with parents and make them feel comfortable with all parts of the trip. Everyone should leave the meeting familiar with all materials and information provided, especially all money matters. However, while the group discussions about materials might be best held together, there should still be an aspect of fellowship involved for just the contingent members. Therefore, it might be best to have the groups split up after a general discussion to allow participants to get to know one another and for parents to continue to ask more detailed questions.

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Second Parents Meeting

A second parent meeting can help with updating everyone on changes that might have occurred over the course of two months. The third and last meeting should take place about a month to two weeks before the contingent leaves. This is about the same time the contingent’s shake-down should occur. At this event the contingent leadership should distribute final travel itineraries that give not only the places and times of planned stops, but also provide contact information for each location. Any other final documents should be given out at this time so they can be fully explained and questioned. By the end of the meeting, parents should be completely prepared for the lodge’s NOAC trip to begin.

To coordinate parental attendance at these meetings, it is unfortunately not enough to simply ask contingent members to pass reminders along to their parents. Therefore, separate email and phone lists are probably necessary for communicating with parents. This will not only help contact parents for reminders of meetings and deadlines, but also give the contingent leadership contact information that can be used during the actual trip.

Communicating the contingent’s important information to both participants and their families may seem redundant at times. However, always remember that the more people who understand the big picture early on, the easier the rest of the process will become.

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Communicating with the Lodge and Council

Contact with the lodge and council is vital to a successful NOAC trip and can be categorized into three general periods. Without lodge and especially council support, a NOAC contingent would not even be possible. Therefore, it is vital to keep the proper council representatives both informed and happy with the contingent’s planning progress. If a major problem should suddenly arise before NOAC, a supportive and knowledgeable council could be the critical player in helping the contingent leadership find a solution. At all times, consider both the lodge and council as partners crucial to a contingent’s success.

The first communication with the lodge and council needs to be made before promotion or recruitment begin. After the contingent leadership has come up with travel plans, both the contingent leader and adviser should schedule a meeting with the lodge chief, lodge adviser and lodge staff adviser. If other council representatives seem necessary, they should also be included in this meeting. The main purpose of this meeting will be to present the contingent leadership’s plan to the council and lodge and discuss the many aspects where lodge and council cooperation and support will be necessary. This is especially necessary for all financial matters, since fees will probably have to go through the council office. Once all of these important details have been cleared by the council, the contingent leadership can then get final approval from the LEC.

After the initial presentation to the lodge and council, the contingent leader needs to keep stay in contact with the lodge through monthly emails. Make sure to discuss issues, including the progress of fundraising, if extra recruitment is necessary, and if there are any changes to the travel plans. This is both the easiest and most crucial step to ensuring council and lodge support for the contingent.
Finally, the lodge and council should be contacted following NOAC. Within about two weeks of the contingent’s return, another meeting should be schedule between contingent, lodge and council leadership to evaluate the trip and finalize all financial matters like any travel cash given to the contingent adviser. Combining both the money and feedback matters into one meeting will help both the lodge and council to start preparing for the next NOAC.

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Meeting Agendas

To keep meetings running and allow for participants and parents to prepare and ask informed questions, make sure to prepare an agenda for every meeting. Sending out agendas along with updated rosters and phone trees two weeks before any meeting would be best, but try to email agendas at least a week before a meeting.

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