Waco Gem and Mineral Club, Waco, Tx

9.5 Overseeing a Newsletter Column


9.5: Overseeing a Newsletter Column or an Entire Youth Newsletter

When I belonged to the Carmel Valley Gem and Mineral Society in California, we had one youth member who was dinosaur crazy. It was the same time that Jurassic Park hit the scene, and you couldn‘t round a corner, walk into a grocery store, or turn on the TV without seeing a dinosaur. Dinosaur Bob, as he came to be known, took the initiative to start his own Fact of the Month column in the club newsletter, a column devoted solely to the topic of fossils (usually dinosaurs) and graced with his own dino drawings. Encourage a similar child or youth with a passionate interest in the hobby to do the same.

You could either have a single youth correspondent who pens a monthly column or you could establish a Youth Column and encourage kids to take turns contributing to it. To make the column stand out, you should place it at the same spot in each issue of the newsletter, where it‘s easy to flip to—such as the last page or a middle fold.

Dinosaur Bob had a theme going for him, making it easy to come up with topics each month. His columns usually started with a simple question that grew into a short essay: What color were dinosaurs? Were dinosaurs warm-blooded or cold? How did the dinosaurs die? A year-long series of mineral columns can evolve from focusing on the birthstone of the month. A lapidary column might take the form of a Dear Abby column, addressing such vexing questions as, One writer asks, Why won‘t my jade take a decent polish?‘ How do you avoid flat spots on a cab? You might establish themes like these, or simply allow kids to write what tickles their fancy at the time.

Caution: Don’t undertake the following unless you’re willing to commit a great deal of time! If you have a truly enthusiastic bunch of kids, including some real wordsmiths, a great project is pulling together a full-scale juniors newsletter—a newsletter by and for junior members. A terrific model is the Mineral Mites Bulletin inaugurated by Ismael Sanchez, Advisor to the Bakersfield Mineral Mites of California. Their newsletter consists of the Advisor‘s Report (written by the adult youth leader), the Assistant Advisor‘s Report, juniors officers contributions, an events calendar, a Mineral of the Month column, clippings from articles in other rock club newsletters, jokes, poems, games, juniors activities (for instance, learning about mining with a chocolate chip cookie), notice of awards for Mineral Mites accomplishments, and Federation reports. In addition to contributions from the Mineral Mites officers, all junior members are encouraged to become involved in the publication. It‘s printed in 4-color and includes clip art and photos. A truly outstanding effort! However, if you have just a small group and limited resources, even a much smaller effort can prove to be a lot of fun and a great learning experience for your kids. You could put together a single-page monthly flyer or fold a sheet of paper and create a four-page mini-newsletter. But for even a modest newsletter, heed the warning posted above! A monthly newsletter just simply takes time and effort, no matter how long or short, and no two ways about it.

Note: Kids who work on this activity can use it to work toward earning the Communication badge simultaneously (Activity 7.2).