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Tweet Tuesday 28th August 2018

Club Junior Development - South Ribble Orienteering Club

SROC (or Red Rose Orienteers as we market ourselves locally) have about 120 total members in total. Of those, we have 26 Juniors in 16 families plus 1 Junior without a family! (well, not in the club anyway).  So juniors are 22% of our membership.

We have recently had hour-long junior coaching preceding our 3 Saturday Autumn and Spring introductory events, which are mainly in our parks and local woods. How regular this is, is determined by the availability of coaches. A good tactic is to offer coaching to the parents or other adults at the same time. So we use the same exercises but 2 different leaders.

Other Junior orientated activities include the summer picnic, club handicap with social quizzes, food etc) after and team entries into Yvette Baker Trophy. Recently we have not had enough older Juniors to make up Peter Palmer teams – the long distance to this event is also a barrier without VERY keen Juniors and parents. Something we need to do better at it involving Juniors in helping at events, preferably with their mates, not with us old fogies!

Having been in the recruitment game for some time, we know that Juniors are cyclical! We have had times when we have a large group of very good juniors, a high proportion of whom made the Start/Talent squads. Then we have periods when they grow up leave and we start building again. Through marketing activity, numbers have grown again in the last couple of years.

Our main challenge is getting a critical mass of say 8 keen, quite close in age, Juniors who bond and just want to be together. This then turns into “having fun with mates”. Its easy at that point. Without such a critical mass there is not the same team spirit and incentive to go to events.

Our main way of recruitment is through active marketing (eg Facebook, which is now working well for us) of “Orienteering for Families” introductory events. We just copied the concept of what SYO were doing with their events in parks (lots of short easy courses, people start on white then do the yellow and orange on the same day). We have a schools league incorporated in these too – but its parents  (not teachers) that bring their children (and parents get half points for competing for their schools too). The main thing is to get both Juniors and their parents taking part in these events.

We came to the view some time ago that we want families with their Juniors, not just Juniors! The adults will bring their children, and we hope will go on to become volunteers and event organisers and planners. They will stay long after their children have moved away! But having enthusiastic Juniors gives the whole club a buzz!

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