At Lasting Impact! we support kids, parents, coaches, AND clubs! We often have people ask us- how do you start a club, then what?! Over the summer we hope to inspire some of you thinking about starting a club in your area. No two clubs are alike… Think about what impact a club could have on your family or your area!
Kristi Eskelund has started multiple clubs. Her husband is in the military and they move every couple of years. So when she wanted her kids to get involved in Speech and Debate, and there was no Club near by she started one herself!
1. Why did you decide to start a club?
I’ve started a couple of different clubs. On one occasion, I started a club because my family was literally the only affiliate in NCFCA in the state of California! So…I taught a class at our co-op and formed a club around that. In a different place, I joined an existing 4H club that was doing a Public Speaking project in their club. One of the members knew I did speech, so I came on as a project leader to help teach them the basics of competitive speech. In BOTH cases, the value was the extra energy that a group of teens can spark! Let’s face it, me coaching my own kids at home will only take them so far. They may know the basics of putting together a good speech, but they don’t get the same energy in my living room as they kids from a group of their peers. They aren’t as motivated to prepare and practice well. They aren’t as receptive to feedback from…ME…as they are to feedback from their peers and other adults.
We’ve also been part of a big, well-structured, thriving club before. That club formed a significant part of our teen social structure in addition to helping us prepare for competitive speech! The friendships that have grown out of our club experiences continue to bless us.
2. What things did you do to promote your club?
Well, I’ve helped to recruit judges for tournaments and that certainly gets the word out about a club! I’ve also advertised through a co-op connection and simply by word of mouth in my circle. These methods work well with a club or program that is at least already off the ground to some degree. Additionally, my family frequently hosts Coffee House nights, where we make desserts and coffee and give our speeches to people we invite. That is a great way to promote a club you are trying to start or build from scratch. In the spring I host coaching days at my house. I’ve had enough interest from that to get a club moving as well.
3. How many kids did you have participate in your club the first year? The second year?
The answer here is different for every single club! My co-op club was bigger the first year because that was the year everyone learned Public Speaking. The next year, they didn’t need that class, and we were simply too far away from tournaments for most of them to consider affiliating, so the ‘club’ almost evaporated. (I don’t think this would have happened if we’d had competition opportunities nearer!) In the case of the 4H group, we have stayed the same for the two years that the 4H club was running the project. Whether we take off as an NCFCA club separate from that this year is yet to be determined….
4. How much time does it take to run a club?
It can take a lot of time, depending on how many willing people you have to help lighten the load. The bigger the club, the more administrative work you’ll need. If you are teaching weekly lessons, you’ll need time to prepare. If you are breaking out into coaching rooms, you need time to organize ahead who will go where to speak and who will coach in those rooms within your facility. If you are a teaching club, you may need to prepare and evaluate homework. You may have to make copies of things to distribute. You’ll need to research rules and league announcements and make your membership aware of those. BUT, you can structure your club to meet the need of YOUR group. Time, and who will share in spending that time, will be one of the “needs” you have to consider as you develop your club structure.
5. What has the impact been on your competitor by participating in Competitive Speech and Debate?
I’ve had four competitors in my family now. Each of them has had a completely different arc through their competitive years, and each of them has walked away with some different impacts. But there are also some common threads.
They’ve all been pushed out their “boxes” and made to do what at first felt uncomfortable. That has given them tremendous confidence. All of them have learned how to take constructive criticism. All of them have learned a LOT about clothes! All of them have developed poise and learned how to face the disappointment of not achieving all that they hoped. All of them have become better writers. All of them have learned to research effectively.
Specifically, my oldest son has had three of his Engineering professors suggest to him that he get a minor in Marketing because of his communication ability. My second son, who competed primarily in the interp events, is working with a media corporation helping them film and share their messages and stories. My third child was our first debater, and she worked as a summer intern for the National Pro Life Alliance helping poll candidates and constituents as well has doing a bit of lobbying on Capitol Hill.
And I could go on… The benefits are tremendous!
6. What’s the name of your club? How did you decide the name? How often does your club meet? What day/hours?
Our current club is called Compass. This was the existing name of the 4H club so we kept it. That club meets two days a month for two hours, and is a speech only club.
If you have stories about what you did to start a club- let us know- we’d love to hear from you!