I know “how to engage new members” has been discussed in the past, but we’re in an unusual situation this year and I suspect many other teams may be in the same boat. We are having incredibly successful recruitment this year - new members significantly outnumber returners - and we’re struggling to figure out what to do with them.
We’re normally a team that hovers around 25 members, with maybe 15-20 present at any given meeting. This year we have 17 returners who were around before COVID, and 8 who have only experienced a virtual season (basically newbies in many regards). We started meeting in late August, and picked up 15 new members. Challenging, but exciting! We put them into five Fall Project groups (each group builds an FTC-sized robot, for a mini-tournament in December). The projects were going a little slowly since the new members had so much to learn, and the groups were on the larger size of what we prefer, but generally things were moving along well enough, and the new members seemed pretty engaged and excited.
Then last week the school held Club Rush, and we got 33 sign-ups! 44 people came to our meeting yesterday, and that was even with a handful of returners absent! Even if only half the sign-ups actually join the team, we don’t know what to do with them. Put them into the existing fall project teams and have 15+ people working on each FTC bot? Make an additional team (who will be a month behind everyone else), and either shuffle the existing teams around or have a full team of newbies? Come up with some different project for some of them to do? Any way you slice it, the fundamental problem is that we only have 17 returning members (maybe 13-14 per meeting) and 3 mentors (only one of whom can be at the after-school meetings). Basically we’re heavily outnumbered, and anyone who needs a bit of attention, guidance, or training has to be extremely patient.
I’ve looked through old threads, but most of them are asking about what kinds of activities are engaging and/or how to weed out people who are on their phones, just there to pad their resumes, etc. I don’t think either of those is our problem - all our new members seem genuinely enthusiastic, we’re just struggling to keep our heads above water with teaching and organizing them. I suppose if we fail to engage them they’ll quit the team and the problem will solve itself, but that would be a pretty disappointing resolution (same if we increase requirements, start charging fees, etc to “weed people out”). We’d love to have a team this size in the long run, but we’re struggling with the veteran:rookie ratio. I’ve seen a handful of people mention in other threads that they’re also having banner years for recruitment - any advice on how to manage it?