17 September 2010

Carnival post-mortem


That's done.

My church's children's carnival went off...if not without a hitch, certainly with a lot less strife than last year. We were better prepared compared to last year-but we've identified a definite problem, which should be obvious to anyone who's studied the military arts, pro sports, or started a company.

We get to a certain point in time-about two hours before the event-and volunteers start rolling in to get their orders. The person in charge (The Better Half again this year) gets swamped with people wanting to know what to do, where stuff is to be located, how to lay out the food area, etc. We Americans are good at logistics...but one person can't be in twelve places at once, trying to direct thirty people, many of which are there for the first time. Even explanatory emails don't always do the trick.

The answer, of course, is for there to be a director, a second-in-command, and leaders/coordinators for each group of the event-in this case, games, food, prizes, and grounds. Each person takes a small chunk of the event and runs with it. The group leaders could be where they need to be 'in the field', answering questions and directing people, and not relying on the director to answer basic questions.

Makes sense, right? Eisenhower didn't personally plan the Normandy invasion, clothe the troops, take a turn in the mess hall, build the ships, and make sure the mountain of beans and bullets got to the field. He had a staff of experts to do all that for him. A college or pro football head coach has offensive, defensive, and special teams coordinators, in addition to equipment managers and groundskeepers, to make sure everything runs well on game day. I've not seen Bears head coach Lovie Smith painting yard lines on the field or repairing shoulder pads.

Well, same deal applies here. The bad part was that we knew this would be a problem last year. TBH asked the Children's Council three times for subdirectors. The lack of sound was people not volunteering to step up to the middle management echelon. If the Council is lukewarm on having an undertaking like this, then that should have been brought up and we'd have scrubbed the event. We could desperately have used the time for other things.

I regret that I didn't get any pictures of the event. I was busy with the prize table. I now know how a farmer feels when a plague of locusts overtakes his field. What a bloody zoo!!

I've made it clear that I don't want any part of Carnival 3: Electric Boogaloo. The neighborhood kids, though, had a good time. Most of the people behaved decently, though the area around the church is full of, hmm-how do I say this...people that think the world owes them, and owes them NOW! I think most of you get the picture there.

Pluses and minuses:

Plus: The volunteers that came in did a great job! Yeoman work by a lot of people.

Minus: Needed people to step up to staff level. This might be a bit much for one person to do if they have a full-time job and other commitments on top of planning this event.

Plus: Boy Scout troop ran the food area, freeing up our people. Might be a merit badge in it for some of the Scouts.

Minus: Our menu was too extensive-walking tacos, sloppy joes, and hot dogs, in addition to salads, cake, and ice cream. I'd go with two entrees. We had a lot of stuff left over. Good thing I like Sloppy Joes!

Plus: The kids loved the prizes.

Minus: We may have gone too 'high-end' on same. We used a ticket system: win tickets at the games, then redeem the tickets for prizes. That's a pain. Maybe just have a big bucket by each game full of trinkets, candy, and maybe one or two 'big' prizes-say, a gift card, and hand out smaller prizes there. Little kids don't care what they get for loot.

Regarding the prizes-the two items that went quickest were basketballs (perhaps not a surprise, given the demographics of the immediate area), and paddleballs. You know, the wooden paddle with a ball connected to it by an elastic string. I got a chuckle out of that. My mom kept one of those paddleballs around, except that she took the the ball and string off and used it as a swatter. I felt the sting of that enough to know not to do that which would make her deploy that particular weapon! Obviously these kids don't know this can be a dual-purpose instrument, otherwise they'd not have been in such a hurry to snap them up!

Plus: A good sized crowd for a midweek event.

Minus: Having the event in midweek. Next year the carnival needs to be done on a Saturday afternoon. The carnival on Wednesday vs. Saturday became a political football this year. In the past, there were children's activities on Wednesday nights at church and the thought was that having the carnival as a kickoff would remind them that Wednesday night was for Gospel Games. It'd be much easier to get adult volunteers on the weekend as opposed to having them take time off of work. Plus having the event in the afternoon would mean we'd all be packed up and squared away at a decent hour-and we'd have Sunday to rest up afterward.

The big thing, I suppose, is that the kids had a good time as kids are wont to do when they get to play simple games and get to take home something 'cool'.

Still, this has been a hell of a lot of work and time expended, doing something I don't feel 'called' to do. I'm not good with most children, but even I have to say when you hear thanks from some of the kids, or their parents, it kind of makes the effort worthwhile.

At any rate, it's over for another year. Will there be another? Not if I have to run it.

I'm going to relax with the old but smooth sounds of this quartet from Melbourne:

Though I like the original just as well, the song about the rebel of the Don Cossacks, Stepan (Stenka) Razin:

Must see the Red Army Chorus sometime. The British have the skirling pipes of the Black Watch, we have the spit, polish, and brass of the US Marine Band, but the Russians have the best vocals.

yankeedog out.


  1. Thanks and my sympathy, Its a problem with trying to convince the people in charge that something needs to be done and they don't listen. It ends up burning out those who step up.

    It was originally planed for The Seekers to end the 2000 Sydney Olympics with that song live in the stadium. Until some idiot bureaucrat screwed it up.

  2. Barnesy-That's exactly it. And that's just what happens-fewer and fewer doing the work.

    How can someone mess a closing act up? Oops.

  3. Yeah, it's great to have people with good intentions and great ideas, but the problem is when those two combine and someone needs to follow through on it, most of the 'ideas people' are just that...useful as a bag of arseholes. Great if you need poop...but otherwise..

  4. Loved your Einsenhower and footy analogies. Top work Yankee. It takes a special kind of person to give their time that way. As for those paddle-bats with the balls attached....overhead fans can be a hazard :-D

  5. Moko-It's a balance. Not everyone that has an idea is able to do the necessary work. Maybe next year there'll be more help on the leadership front.

    Natalie-Thank The Better Half. I get pulled into this by conscription. 'Preciate the thought, though.