Jan Provides An Update on EckO Development and Life As A Club Development Officer

Today, Jan Kersel joined our SOA Team Meeting and provided a valuable update on all the developments taking place across Argyll & Bute. It was uplifting to hear the impact of the appointment of Jan on EckO and we felt compelled to share her story. Enjoy!

Getting Started

I officially started as EckO CDO on 1st August, 2020 although prior to that,
thanks to SOA funding and support, I was employed to formulate a robust
business plan enabling EckO to apply to SportScotland DCI (Direct Club
Investment) for a 14 hour/week, four year contract Club Development Officer Role.

Running in parallel to this, as a starting point, I trained as an IntrO tutor and attended the UKCC Level 2 Orienteering coach training course to develop my own coaching skills. I successfully ran my first IntrO course for fourteen of our local cluster primary school teachers and parent volunteers with plans to role this out to the High School teachers later in the Spring but then came ‘Lockdown’!

The plan was to develop the junior section of the club and encourage young
leaders so that we could all celebrate World Orienteering Day/Week with an
orienteering extravaganza. Lockdown put paid to this but it is hoped to
implement this as soon as it is safe to do so.

The Benefits of a Club Development Officer

For EckO one of the main benefits of having a CDO has been to take the
pressure away from the volunteer workforce and take time to formulate an
overview of where EckO is at and where the club would like to be in four years time.

As CDO I was able to act as a coordinator/ facilitator with a general overview of what sort of commitment members were able to offer and utilise the skills and expertise within the club. So working on the philosophy of ‘if everybody is encouraged to do a little then nobody becomes overloaded’, I rolled up my sleeves and set to.

The key objectives for the club are to grow the club membership, grow the
workforce of volunteers and coaches within the community and schools
aiming to establish regular club nights, training and coaching with a focus on recruiting and retaining girls.

One of my first jobs was to look at our current development plan and update it. I produced a four year overview incorporating the objectives of the DCI business plan and then broke it down to a one year more detailed plan of what we hope to achieve in Year 1. This will be updated and developed for years 2,3 and 4. It was deliberately ambitious with activities designed to feed into the following years plans. It was also designed to be dynamic, regularly referred to and updated.

I think its safe to say that the biggest obstacle has been how to
engage the club and achieve some of our objectives, given that we
were in the midst of a global pandemic with many restrictions in

Monthly ROMP

Initially I made use of the many on-line orienteering activities on offer
and cascaded the information to the membership. Several families
engaged with this information for their ‘home-schooling’ activities.
The situation provided us with a good opportunity to trial a monthly template of orienteering activities and events using one area at a time. We decided to develop a ROMP providing a permanent set of courses available to the EckO members and the public for one month, try and offer a MapRun for each area, coaching for juniors at TD3+ level, coaching for adults at TD4/5 and finishing with an event open to club members only.
Participants were encouraged to log their ROMP using Airtable which gave us an indication of usage. There has been a steady use of MapRun and each
month the number of competitors at each event has increased (from 40 to 60). Communication and promotion was through the EckO website, social media, LiveArgyll and email (mailchimp). Club clothing is important to establish a club identity so the kit was upgraded to include a jacket and in December several of our members very proudly sported their jackets at the last event before Christmas.

We managed to run successfully for three months in three areas with other
areas already planned and organised before this current lockdown. Through this model we were starting to see a significant increase in membership and volunteer development either through direct contact and mentoring or making use of the virtual courses offered by SOA and BOF. Through careful management we were encouraging and developing our volunteers during the monthly events giving our members an awareness of what goes on behind the scenes. We have now increased our planner base by one and have a junior starting out on her coaching journey through the coaching foundation course. Another coach is training to deliver a module in coaching in remote/ exposed terrain.

In order to achieve all of this, I have initially had to upskill myself in many
areas particularly keeping up to date with COVID regulations and ensuring
that we as a club were adhering to recommended safety guidelines. I have
developed my coaching and will hopefully become a UKCC L2 coach this
spring. I have attended most of the fantastic workshops/ sessions offered by
the SOA/ BO over the last couple of months and encouraged other members
to participate too. The recent coaching conference offered a wide variety of
stimulating and informative workshops that has helped me to develop my own personal orienteering toolkit, my coaching toolkit as well as the opportunity to network and connect with other clubs.

One of the spinoffs of lockdown has been the necessity to become familiar
and use technology in order to communicate. I see the potential to engage
the club members through platforms like zoom and google hangouts and hope in the very near future to offer my very first ‘refresher’ IntrO course through one of these platforms and re-engage with schools.

During January and February as we are in the midst of another lockdown,
ROMP’s and MapRuns have been available to give club members their
orienteering fix.

The future is unpredictable but as soon as it is safe to do so we hope to fully
engage club members with a wealth of orienteering experiences and continue with the exciting progress already made.

Jan kersel (Club Develoment Officer – EckO)