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Tips for a first time Quartermaster...


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#1 cchoat

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Posted 26 September 2016 - 10:46 AM

This is a request for assistance to anyone who has ever been asked to staff a Wood Badge course as the Quartermaster.  What, if any, difficulties did you encounter?  What should I be on the lookout for? 

 

I want to provide the best experance for the participants, by "being prepared" for as much as possible. 


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#2 Eagledad

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Posted 26 September 2016 - 01:07 PM

The quartermaster is typically the first staffer to camp for getting it ready (couple weeks) and the last to leave for breaking it down. You are constantly setting up and delivering materials to different classes and activities. Quartermaster uses the delegator skills the most, so line up as many volunteers as you can and train them early. And if you aren't a good organizer, find one and make them your number two.

 

I was never the Quartermaster, but I hang around them because they seem to have the most fun.

 

Barry


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#3 qwazse

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Posted 26 September 2016 - 02:37 PM

... I was never the Quartermaster, but I hang around them because they seem to have the most fun. ...

Survival strategies I don't tell my venturers:

Arrive late to a summit/conclave/moot? While the youth are pitching their tents, check in at the kitchen with the Cook/QM. That's where you're likely to find the leftover pie, and someone willing to warm it up for you. :ph34r: They have the best stories from their time in the service as well.


Edited by qwazse, 26 September 2016 - 02:38 PM.

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#4 jjlash

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Posted 27 September 2016 - 07:26 AM

I was QM for our last course (in 2014).  Now I'm rooming with the QM for our current course so we have compared notes about my style versus his and so on.  Here are some things we agreed were very useful:

 

1) Eagledad hit a couple of the big points - if you are not super organized, find someone who is and get them to be your assistant.  You should be the first to arrive and the last to leave.  

 

2) Know your stuff - that is, know what materials you need for every minute of each day.  Also know what materials you have available to you.

2a) Have a starting inventory - what stuff was in your totes when you started.  Create an ending inventory.  This is partly to know that you have everything you need and partly to track what is consumed/lost/broken and needs to be replaced for next time.  

2b) Organize your stuff into totes or boxes according to what makes sense to you.  Mine were actually organized by category of items (flags in one tote, candles in another etc) but this course QM reorganized by day.  

 

3) I created a "QM staging book" - I took our detailed daily schedule and added a column for "what items does the QM need to provide" for every session of every day.  It was very detailed and included things like what order are the items arranged on the table (i.e. for the WB Traditions ceremony)

 

4) I created a staging area - there is a set of tables (behind the scenes) that I set out everything needed for each day.  The staff all knows that is where they pick up items and that is where they return items.  Last thing I did before going to bed each day is pack up today and lay out tomorrow.  My staging book is on the table.

 

5) Be pleasant but be clear from the beginning "stay out the the QM totes".  I know what is there and where it is.  I can get it for you faster than you can find it yourself.  I am responsible for making sure you get what you need and I cannot do that if somebody has moved things or taking things out without me knowing it.  This is absolutely critical for day 1 - there are so many moving parts on day 1 that if something is not where it should be you can have a stumble that the participants see.

 

6) Have things on-hand for staff development meetings.  Our QM this time around did not always have the games and props on hand for Troop Guides to practice during staff dev meetings.  That left practicing until the setup day just before the course.  As ASM TGs I was not thrilled about that.

 

7) The QM is responsible for food.  I was fortunate that a) we planned staff development for half days and I only had to provide snacks, not meals.  And b) during weekend 1 we had recruited very experienced kitchen help and I was able to delegate the entire food process to him.  This time around our Assistant QM managed all of the menu planning and food purchasing.  It was a ton of extra work for her.  If you can off-load everything food related I strongly suggest that

7a) The coffee pot should always be on!

 

8) Vendors - plan way ahead and be meticulous with vendors.  We worked with one vendor for trinkets, another for apparel, a third for the course cap/tshirt and a fourth for the woggle cord.  The cap/tshirt vendor is someone I had worked with for several years and was wonderful (that is why I keep working with them).  The apparel vendor and woggle cord vendor were also very good - both had SNAFUs with shipping that caused items to be delayed.  Both immediately shipped out replacements without worrying about right/wrong/payments etc.  The trinket vendor was difficult to work with.  The consignment items were not received when I had requested them to arrive, the contents of the package did not match the packing list they provided, a few items were broken in transit and they accepted no responsibility for discrepancies.  Unfortunately we were not able to find another vendor to offer trinkets so we went back to them this year.

 

Finally - consider what your real job is.  You may come to a different conclusion, but I considered my real job as making sure the staff (especially the Troop Guides) had what they need, when they need it, where they need it.  I wanted items (including food) to magically appear exactly when they were needed and disappear when they were done.  This was my vision for success, it guided my organization and planning.

 

Good Luck and enjoy watching the machine move know the part you played


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#5 cchoat

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Posted 27 September 2016 - 09:16 AM

Thanks all for the good advise.  I am not one to reinvent the wheel, but a good planner and organizer, so it's important to me to be the best QM I can be.  Already have a "obsessively compusive detail guy" lined up, willing to help and approved as assistant QM, so that's one box checked off.   So far, I have reviewed the 2016 course sylibus and I am starting a list of questions that I hope will help steer everything in the right direction.

 

What does the staff really want?

Is there anything extra I can provide to help them "kick the training up a notch"?

 

What type of trinkets sold well?  

What were the participants asking for?

What should I steer clear of?

 

How do I stay in budget?   Don't have one yet, but working on a draft (based on prior course info, plus additional info I can gather at forums such as this) to present at upcoming "Meet and Greet" next month.


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#6 cchoat

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Posted 27 September 2016 - 09:24 AM

 

7a) The coffee pot should always be on!

 

 

One thing that I have got in my request for feedback, was in addion to Coffee, provide Tea and Hot Chocolate for those who dont drink Coffee. 


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#7 jjlash

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Posted 27 September 2016 - 11:47 AM

What does the staff really want?

Is there anything extra I can provide to help them "kick the training up a notch"?

 

What type of trinkets sold well?  

What were the participants asking for?

What should I steer clear of?

 

How do I stay in budget?   Don't have one yet, but working on a draft (based on prior course info, plus additional info I can gather at forums such as this) to present at upcoming "Meet and Greet" next month.

 

You didnt say - is this your first time on staff or have you served in other positions?

 

The staff wants the same as you - to give the participants an amazing experience.  To kick it up a notch, consider little things that dont cost much or take much effort but add an extra touch.  Maybe a bit of candy on each patrol table each morning.  Or have the scribe send a note to participants requesting their preferred (Scout appropriate) beverage and have some of those on-hand.  Definitely popcorn etc during October Sky.  Maybe give each patrol a "smores kit" at the start of their outdoor experience (the second weekend for a 3+3 course)  You should be like a good butler or waiter - in the background but always there at the right time with the right item.  This applies to both staff and participants.  

 

Trinkets - as I recall hat/lapel pins and various patches sold reasonably well.  Stuffed critters of all shapes and sizes sold very well.  The thing that sold very best for us last course was the WB stuff from Class B.  They have critter patches, stickers and bumper stickers that are beautiful - much nicer than any other vendor I looked at.  We sold out of most and had to place another order for the second weekend.  I think I contacted them directly and asked about supplying our course rather than ordering from the website.  

 

I would say the key to staying in budget is to be involved with creating the budget so you understand it inside out and upside down.  Id be happy to send you my budget from 2014 so you can see the line items that we considered - and the ones that we forgot to consider. 

 

I would suggest 2 things on the money side.  First - have all money in / out go through one person.  We have our scribe keep track of participant registrations and fee payments, the course director approves scholarships and early-registration discounts but the QM handles all other money.  Since the QM is responsible for the budget and a big part of the budget is participant payments and participant payments are impacted by scholarships and discounts - I was constantly discovering that we had received less income that I expected for the number of participants that were registered. 

 

The second thing with the money is the same as for anything we do with money.  Keep meticulous records and communicate often with the council finance person.  I kept a scan of every receipt for every item purchased and every bit of money that went out.  Our process is very informal - I just emailed the finance guy and told him what I need or sent him a receipt.  There was no official paperwork for me to fill out, no account numbers for me to use.  It seemed very "loosey goosey" to me but that is the way he said to do it.  I suspect he was taking care of the paperwork for me.


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#8 cchoat

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Posted 28 September 2016 - 11:09 AM

Thanks JJLASH,

 

Yes, this is my first time staffing a Wood Badge course.  It's going to be a cluster course, between to different councils in two different states.   I was selected for this position by my council based on the fact that I am a Disbursing Officer with the Department of defense and known to be a "detail oriented" guy.  (I wanted to be a troop guide, or maybe Scribe, but...I serve where I am needed.)

 

If you could e-mail that budget, i'd really appreciate it.  clive.s.choat.civ@mail.mil is my address.   

 

I like the idea of  a "smores kit" and am going to use it.  

 

I actually bought alot of critter stuff that my course's trading post supplied which came from Class B, so I was planning on suggesting it.  I will go with your suggestion to contact them directly.

 

And you have reinforced the need to keep a tight handle over the budget.  I have got the same advice from others on the various Wood Badge groups on Facebook. 

 

From what I have read and learned from others, QM may not run the course, but it doesnt run without him (or her). 

 

If you think of anything else, please let me know.


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#9 oldisnewagain1

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Posted 03 October 2016 - 10:50 AM

Understand, something will go wrong.

 

Depending on how well you plan, prepare, lead your staff, and execute, will determine whether it a large problem or a small problem.

 

And always have a Plan B


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#10 SSScout

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Posted 03 October 2016 - 11:22 AM

Scouty decorations are QM responsibility?   Posters?   Crepe paper for B&G?  etc. 

 

White boards?    Big newsprint?    Permanent markers or wipe-able?   String/rope?  Duct tape?   Masking/strip-able (painters) tape?  Paper and big clips?  Tripods/easels?   Tripods can be a Pioneering demo.  

Food:   Kitchen behind the scenes provided or self cook over a common charcoal?  I've seen both.   All cold cuts and bread?   Consider food needs /allergies and DONOT provide Peanut Butter a-tall. 

 Staff needs: Costumes?   Silly hats?  

 

AP paper... (paper towels to you).   Tarps for rain protection?    Site considerations.   Muddy boots/mats?   Signage/directions? 

 

See you on the trail...


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