News Archive

News

Tweet Monday 3rd September 2018

Club Junior Development - Mar Orienteering Club

Club membership and growth data

Maroc has always had a strong junior section driven by several key individuals over the years. Club membership had been declining for a couple of years around 2013/14, but a new active recruitment drive was initiated in Feb 2015 with the help of a part-time Club Development Officer role. Membership has now stabilised out at around 170 members, but this requires active recruitment every year; 58 of the 2015 club members are no longer in the club (33% turnover in 3 years). 22 2018 members have an SOA only membership.

 

2018 (to Aug 7th)

2017

2016

2015

2014

Adults

93

83

75

79

60

Juniors

94

87

93

87

60

Total

187

170

168

166

120

Family Units

32

33

35

35

24

Family Members

100

102

101

98

68

Activities targeted at juniors and families

The club runs a number of activities to attract and retain young people and families. For newcomers to the sport this includes:

  • After-school club
    • Run as blocks of 4-6 weeks in autumn, pre-Easter and poster Easter blocks for  P5-7 (9-12-year-olds). The clubs usually cater for novice up to TD3 standard.
  • Introductory blocks
    • Usually, run as 4 sequential Sundays and targeted at new families. These usually involve 3 x coached sessions with 1 local event and we aim to hold 2 blocks per year (Jan and Sep).
  • Sunday club training
    • Sunday training is held in conjunction with intro blocks and sporadically through the rest of the year to fill gaps between events. Sessions are coached with separate groups for different standards and open to adults and juniors of all levels.
  • Holiday camps
    • Run occasionally and targeted at novice up to TD3. These have generated some interest but are a lot of work

For members that have reached technical levels equivalent to light green or TD4 standard, further training and participation opportunities are available:

  • Wednesday Technical Training
    • Autumn, pre-Easter and poster Easter blocks are targeted at developing (TD4+) juniors and Talent Squad. Informal sessions using GPS to log routes – no controls in the forest.
  • Deeside Night Cup
    • Every Wed through the winter. All juniors are encouraged to participate once they are up to TD5 level. These sessions are absolutely key to technical progression.

The club aims to develop a strong social setting for junior members by coordinating group activities:

  • Club representation
    • Group travel is organised by the club to the Jamie Stevenson Trophy and Scottish inter-area competition as well as occasional attendance at the Peter Palmer Relays
  • Junior Talent Squad
    • Weekends away and focused training days are arranged for juniors age M/W 16 and above who have shown keenness and decent results.
  • Club weekend
    • A social club weekend has recently held in conjunction with Badenoch and Straspethy Orienteering Club (BASOC) Highland Wolf events. This is especially aimed at integrating newer families.

Challenges

A particular challenge for Maroc is that membership turnover is high due to the demographics of the area (juniors move away at 18 and we often lose parents from the club at that stage also). Hence maintaining a recruitment drive is essential and needs the same things doing again and again and again…

Bridging the gap between the after-school club and mainstream club sessions needs effort. We have recently had something like a 50% success rate with this, through working hard on communications with parents. We have also had a number of youngsters who have gained a massive amount from the after-school club without ever attending club sessions and we shouldn’t undervalue the importance of this.

Despite a lot of effort we still get occasional feedback that newcomers have found it hard to get integrated in the club and that the whole set-up of the sport is intimidating.

As everywhere else, our volunteer resources are limited and we do ask a lot of our members in terms of contributing to organising, planning and coaching. We believe that a strong coaching workforce is really beneficial for the club but there is a constant need to keep encouraging people to train as coaches, even many who are quite new to the sport themselves.

 

Lessons

Club training sessions are much more social than events, especially for newcomers, as everyone is there at the same time and in the same place. Our number one rule for Sunday training is “Don’t let parents of newcomers drop and run”. If parents can be encouraged to stay and help with shadowing, then there is an opportunity to socialise and (in due course) offer a chance to participate for themselves. Those that don’t want to participate can still be involved by helping out with signing in and out etc.

We don’t run after-school clubs for free (this is mandatory in some local authorities). Charging for after-school club sessions is likely to reduce numbers but should give a more focused and interested group that is easier to work with. An added bonus is that it can cover the costs for a paid coach.

Juniors are more likely to stay involved if they have a peer group to socialise with and opportunities should be encouraged for this to develop (den building and pine-cone warfare can both have their place at training sessions).

Older juniors (generally 16+) are a useful volunteer resource themselves and can gain much from the input that they give. This might include helping to plan and organise events or mentor and shadow younger athletes at some training sessions. This also helps foster role models and develop club spirit.

Top