Programs For Our Monthly Chapter Get Togethers
One of the biggest challenges facing Chapter Leaders is coming up with monthly programs for the monthly Chapter get-together. First off, everyone wants to be entertained. We know this. Chapter Members will show up and they will expect the Chapter Leadership to have something up their sleeves to entertain the troops. In addition, if you ask for a volunteer to head-up the responsibility of getting monthly programs, one thing is for sure, nobody is likely to volunteer for this job. So, what are the Chapter Leaders going to do?
Let's look a few facts. Fact number one: how many monthly programs do you really need? If your Chapter has a holiday party, you can figure this month may or may not need a guest speaker. If you do need a program it should be entertaining for all, including the non-aviator spouses. If your Chapter has a fly-in or other special flying activity such as Young Eagles, that's another month that will not need a guest speaker. If your Chapter has a hangar dance, maybe a Valentine Dance, that's another month you will not need a speaker. When all the smoke settles, you may only need programs for nine months.
Fact number two: the kind of programs you need may not be the ones you would immediately think of. Question - do you need all of the programs to be about building an airplane? Answer - no, not particularly. After all, if you look at the make up of your Chapter you will probably find there are homebuilders as well as pilots (some with airplanes and some without). And when you look at the types of airplanes the Members in your Chapter are flying you will most likely find everything from Cessna, Piper, and Grumman to Porterfield, Aeronca, and Fairchild, so the programs don't need to be just about homebuilding. Think about all of the things people are doing and that will give you a better idea of what programs they might find interesting. Programs such as winter flying, parks with grass strips, great restaurants you can fly to, and a bunch of other things like this can be real interesting.
Fact number three: the actual quality of the program is only half the success of a good activity. Now you are probably saying what in the world do you mean by that comment. Well, let me explain. If you have a speaker, this is great, but don't stop there. The next thing you need to pretty much guarantee for a successful program is atmosphere and atmosphere can come in the form of a pleasant location and FOOD! That's right, location and food! These will help make the program a success. Location doesn't have to be anything fancy, just warm if it is cold outside or cool if it is the other way around. Comfortable surroundings are what you should shoot for. As far as food is concerned, here again it doesn't have to be anything fancy, just good food and plenty of it. Probably the best thing to do is go with the "pot-luck" approach. After all, everyone can bring something, even if they have to stop by the store on the way to the Chapter get together.
Okay, now that we covered all of problems and the facts, what about a solution for getting programs. Well let's answer that question with a simple question; who's Chapter is it anyway? If you said ours, your right, and ours means everyone that belongs to the Chapter.
If you have ever been a member of any of the popular civic groups in your community you know that with membership in these groups comes the responsibility of coming up with a program for one of their weekly meetings. Why should your Chapter be any different? We always talk about getting Chapter Members more involved, why not start with getting your Chapter Members involved in getting the programs? Borrowing an idea from EAA Chapter 897, they decided to try this approach. They figured they needed nine programs for the whole year and they had 30 Chapter Members. They got three Chapter Members to volunteer to be the Programs Committee and they took the remaining twenty-seven Chapter Members and assigned three Chapter Members to work together to get one Program. This idea worked out great and everyone got involved. The programs varied widely and everyone enjoyed the topics - they knew better than anyone else the kind of programs they wanted, it's their Chapter. So like the old adage says-divide and conquer.
This approach offers a couple of additional benefits. The passive members in the Chapter are drawn in by the process and, once involved, may be surprising in their contributions. Also, the process should be very arbitrary in the forming of the program teams. This provides the opportunity for members that don't know each other to get acquainted. This is a real boon for new members. These side benefits are worth as much to the Chapter's growth as the great slate of programs it also yields.
So, there you go. Is this a prefect solution? No, but it is a start and just like any good homebuilt, what the designer design's, homebuilders will modify and improve upon…so go for it!
Oh yes, if you come up with a better idea or an improvement on this one, please pass it back to the Chapter Office. We'll borrow it and pass it along to the entire Chapter Family.
KEEP THE SPIRIT!