By: Heather Neumann
Christina Oser is a homeschool mom and mother of 5, as well as a mid-wife, from Madison, WI. If you would have told her, she would start a Speech and Debate Club in 2015, when her oldest was starting high school, she would have said, “I’ve learned better than to say, “No way!” So maybe, “Only if absolutely necessary!” Or, “There are any number of people who would be a better fit for that job description.” Although she didn’t anticipate starting a club, she feels by starting a club it increased confidence, stronger communication skills, and friendships for her high schooler, as well as herself!
1. Why did you decide to start a club?
Thank you for thinking of me. I started the club because my shy 13 year old son was starting a year of online highschool, and I was concerned that it would be difficult to develop his communications skills in this environment with little interaction with real people. Since he was considering law as a profession, I knew that communications skills would be especially important. When I started asking around the closest clubs were in Milwaukee and Appleton. I was astounded that a city as progressive and homeschool friendly as Madison didn’t have a club. So I started putting out feelers for interest to the homeschool organizations in the area, and found that others were very much interested, and many remembered a time when Madison had a strong club, and were eager to start that again.
2. What things did you do to promote your club?
NCFCA State Representative and Leadership were eager to share their experience and to come talk to families. So I set up an initial meeting with families who were interested, and Amy came to talk about NCFCA. I continued to interact by email with the families that came, and we were able to agree on a time and place. Heather came at the beginning of the speech year and did a one day camp. The first year we started the year with 7 families. 5 ended up competing in speech. We had one debate team. This year we already have 7 committed debate members who attended Resolved Debate camp, and a few others who have expressed interest, so we may have 4 teams! We have at least 10 families committed to speech, some with more than one student involved. Our beginning of the year potluck is this week, so we will know more about an exact number of students then. But we have more than doubled in size this year.
3. How many kids did you have participate in your club the first year? The second year?
Last year with only 5 families competing, the time commitment was really minimal. I spent some time on the phone with families who were interested, posted a few things on various homeschool group listings, stood at a table for the largest area homeschool group to represent the club, sent some emails to families in the club, researched information about tournaments and housing, communicated with the church who hosted our club, created a registration form, recruited a mom to teach debate, organized a schedule for moms to take turns teaching speech, and various and sundry other things. It took more time initially in the summer before club started, but once we were rolling the other moms were willing to help keep thing going.
4. How much time does it take to run a club?
I am honestly a bit concerned about the time commitment this year with the club being so much larger than last year. I will be heavily recruiting involvement from other moms. I really don’t have time to do it all, so I simply won’t do it all. The moms will be required to help as part of having their kids in the club. I am trying to think through what roles I can delegate. I still have lots of questions about running a club myself, and really still don’t consider myself to be the one running it. I really see myself as simply bringing families together, so the club can happen. I would love to have another family step into the “administration” role. But it is fun to see so much interest in a club that my family is enjoying.
5. What are the details of your club?
Our name is Madison Magnus Speech and Debate Club. Magnus is Latin for great, large, important. We had club members to come to our first social event with some ideas for names. This was my son’s idea, and everyone liked it for the meaning and alliteration. We meet on Thursdays from 12:30-3:30.