Running a youth stamp club
There is a lot of legislation relating to the protection of young people. Usually applying to those under the age of 14, it may include those up to the age of 18. As nearly all members of junior and youth stamp clubs fall into these categories, the Philatelic Youth Council considers it necessary to provide guidelines to youth stamp club leaders. This is to ensure they are aware of, and are protected from, actions that may lead to violation of the laws concerning young people. Stamp collecting is fun and there are some common sense approaches which will ensure it stays that way.
These guidelines are divided into two groups – those deemed essential and those that are helpful suggestions.
- Ensure two adults are in attendance at stamp club at all times. We recommend the club does not open its doors until two adults, not from the same family, are present.
- Don’t put yourself into a compromising situation. Sometimes it is easy to find one of the leaders isolated from the other(s). Try to ensure there are more than 2 or 3 children still with you. Remember, there is safety in numbers.
- It is strongly advised you don’t have private meetings in your own home. If you must have such meetings, all guidelines here strongly apply. This is for your own safety.
- At least once a year have a meeting for parents to attend. Talk about the responsibilities of leaders and reasons for being safe at stamp club meetings. Also discuss with parents the need to know relevant medical and behavioural problems of individual youngsters.
- Keep a membership roll book that individuals sign at the beginning of each meeting. It is recommended supervisors, parents and visitors sign this register. It is also a good history document of the club. (The Christchurch Youth Stamp Club has had its book since 1981.)
- Ensure you keep a list of contact numbers on hand in case of emergency. It’s not a bad idea to have a cell phone with the attending leaders or members.
- Make parents aware of the shared responsibility of having young people at the club. While you take on the responsibility for young people while they are attending a meeting make it clear you are not a baby sitting service but a stamp club.
- If you think you have a problem share it promptly. The sooner the better. If in doubt, speak with the youngster’s parents, or the club committee. Endeavour to settle disputes as soon as they arise e.g. petty theft of stamps, loss of equipment, tweezers etc. Personal items need to be labelled as soon as possible.
- Make the idea of ‘all care, no responsibility’ for club members’ stamps and materials a fundamental rule. Ensure parents are fully aware of this. However, also reassure them we as leaders keep a close eye on swapping and trading.
- Have a policy on money and trading. Whether you do or don’t is entirely up to the club. It should be fully understood by parents and members what the policy is. You may find the best policy, with least problems, is ‘No Money’ apart from subscriptions. Swapping of stamps value for value should be encouraged but letting the youngsters buy and sell stamps with each other needs to be watched.
- Food and drink. You might like to have a rule of ‘No food, no drink’ as well.
- Have a house rules workshop with the club once a year. This could explain things like a points system, swapping and borrowing, labelling equipment, etc. It would be an ideal time to preview the year’s programme, any special events and exhibitions, stamp camp dates, holiday seminars and special visits.
- Give these guidelines to parents as a special part of having a youngster join your club. It will make parents aware club leaders are well aware of the responsibilities undertaken by all involved.