Question about volunteering

Time for another n00b question from AlephZer0.
I asked this before in another thread, but I think it deserves its own thread, so maybe I can get some detailed responses as opposed to the more general (although still quite good) information I received.
The question is:
What are the age restrictions for volunteering(besides the general minimum age of 13)?
I am currently a member of a High School team, for reference.
Up to now, I have heard things like safety glasses, spare parts and field reset, but I want to know the full extent of what I am allowed to do.

There are no explicit age requirements for any volunteer position. It is up to the volunteer coordinator to determine whether an individual volunteer is suited for a particular role.

Often times older (not necessarily old) volunteers possess more maturity, technical experience, and interpersonal skills. Volunteer coordinators look various combinations and levels of qualities such as these for each role. That’s one reason you generally see older volunteers in certain roles. However, a 30 year old volunteer could very well be at the same level as an 18 year old with any of these qualities.

Don’t focus on your age- focus on the skills that you can bring to the table. If a volunteer coordinator tells you that you are too young for a role you want to do, ask what you can work on to become a better fit for that role.

VIMS requirement is 18 years.

The list of all positions is here:

As a first time volunteer who is a minor, I’d recommend looking at the non-technical roles for this year. The descriptions include the amount of physical activity.

From VIMS:

Checking the checkbox “I have read and agree to these Terms & Conditions”] below indicates:
(a) I am 18 years of age or older.
(b) If I am not 18 years of age or older, I understand that my parent/guardian may be contacted, and that consent of my parent/guardian will be required for me to volunteer.

C’mon Joe. We all know you’re not a minor.

Also, would they accept experience, for example, running a score-system for a sporting event as qualification to be scorekeeper? Or something of that nature?
I actually have 2 years of experience running the score system for my swim team.

It is unusual for new volunteers become the lead of something without first being as assistant for the position first.

As an example I am currently an FTAA for FTC this year and I hope/plan to be an FTA next year.

One thing I like about it is you can learn what the position is like and the person you are helping can teach you good practices and other sorts of important things a manual cannot.

Also I think there are certain positions should (more often than not) be filled by adults. Like said before it all depends on maturity. I think I could be a good ref but there are some people on my team that I don’t think are ready for it if asked.

So are you saying that I could be a non-lead (assistant) scorekeeper?
Or a ref if I’m mature(which I am if the situation calls)?
I need a little clarification.

In my opinion yes to both.

Apply for what you would like to do just make sure it seems realistic. Don’t apply to be a head ref if you have never been a ref before. Etc.

Thanks guys!

Assignments are made by the particular event’s Volunteer Coordinator. In general they are looking for someone who has volunteered at numerous FIRST events before being put in a key position.

Also in general for things like Refs they do want an adult and not someone who is currently on a team. It is unfortunate but when the going gets sticky a young person is much more likely to have their ability/experience questioned by a team than someone who is older.

So for your first volunteer position you should request something like field reset, queing or other position that isn’t considered a key volunteer position. Build your reputation as a hard worker who is reliable and willing to give 110% and you’ll soon find them asking you to fill more difficult roles.

I’m going to chime in here as a Volunteer Coordinator. I’m sure others will chime in as this thread gains traction as well.

Personally, I would not assign a high school student to any role that affects outcomes of the matches (scorekeeper, ref, etc), even as an assistant, if you’re volunteering within your home region. Yes, volunteers are all required to sign a conflict of interest form - but I’d rather spare the potential for an issue to arise.

While you’re still in high school, I’d keep you in non-technical roles. Field reset, queueing, Pit Admin, spare parts. After you’ve spent some time volunteering, or when you’re in college, assistant scorekeeper or FTAA fits what you’re describing.

I tend not to assign young people as referees, inspectors, judges -roles that require training and maturity- even if they’re college students (and in that case, it’s a maturity judgement call.) There are particular roles at events that directly impact all teams’ experiences, and those are usually better left to adults. There needs to be an intense understanding of the weight of your decisions and how your attitude/actions as a volunteer make & shape the teams’ perceptions of the event. That’s part of why Conflict of Interest forms exist.

Regardless of age or role assignment, there needs to be a maturity level there, in recognizing that you are the face of FIRST to the kids on teams, and it is your responsibility to make their experience a good one. <minor soapbox moment> Volunteering isn’t about you, it’s about making sure the teams have the best possible experience at the event you’re volunteering for. </minor soapbox moment>

Hope that helps!

I think it would be good if volunteer coordinators chimed in. Especially those from MAR because that is my district.
Personally, I am against age generalizations, not for this in particular, but in the general case. I feel that age is not the best way to determine intellect or maturity(though it is the fastest).

Fixed that for you. The key things here are “apparent conflict of interest” and “perceived maturity”. (OP, this following part is for you.)

See, the refs (and other similar types, but I’ll focus on the refs) need to be as bias-free as possible, or at the very least look like it. If a ref is attending an event, their team should not be, and if the team is at the event, the ref should not be reffing. This is not always possible–if it were strictly enforced, there are quite a few cases where there wouldn’t be enough refs at an event–but as much as possible, it’s what the VC would be striving for. OTOH, team mentors can make great refs–they know the rules better than an “outside” party. There are mitigation strategies in place for conflict of interest, often as simple as having a ref sit out for their team’s matches.

But the other part of this is the maturity factor. For “some reason”, younger refs tend to be seen as “not experienced enough”. That may be true, and often is. OTOH, you could also have a very experienced ref who is in fact younger. But, to the spectator, the ref just doesn’t know what he’s doing, and is an easy target for questioning the head ref about his calls. (Whether that’s actually the case…)

Now insert some other key volunteer with impact on the score for “ref”. Same arguments apply.

Fun fact: I am a volunteer coordinator in MAR. :slight_smile:

Age is definitely not the best way to determine intellect or maturity – but if we don’t know you personally (i.e. you have not volunteered with us before, you’re new and there aren’t any notes or previous roles in your ‘file’) that’s all we have to go off.

Also, to address the conflict of interest question, I was not planning on volunteering at an event where my team will be participating, if that makes a difference.

I doubt there is much similarity between the swim team “score system” and the list of responsibilities for the FRC Scorekeeper position. Since you seem to think you might be qualified, I’m not sure you’ve looked at the detailed descriptions of the event volunteer positions.

Scorekeeper is a Key Volunteer position. It requires detailed training. You’re exceedingly unlikely to be considered for it if the Volunteer Coordinator has not already seen you volunteering at an event in some other capacity. The requirements for Scorekeeper include strong communication and assessment skills, and that’s something you will need to have demonstrated in person before you can be counted as a qualified Key Volunteer.

You can address any or all of the concerns brought up by people in this thread, but simply put, it doesn’t matter to your personal situation if you change their minds. People on CD can speak generally, but no one is going to be able to give you a definite determination other than the VC(s) at the event(s) where you’d like to volunteer (though it’s possible Libby is one). I’m don’t know how much more you’ll be able to get out of this thread.

Why not go with something fun, I’m sure MAR needs more inspectors. You get to poke and prod robots without the stress of having to help run the field.

FYI I did read it, and there was a degree of congruence. And training is just webinars right? I can do that.
In the end I think Basel A is right.