(Twenty-five Steps to Being a Successful Registrar)
The Registrar is an important adjunct to the role of the Chairs. The Registrar shall be elected for a three year term by the Board of Directors at its annual meeting. In the case of a vacancy in the Registrar position, the Board of Directors may elect, or the President may appoint, a replacement to fill the unexpired term. An elected Registrar may serve a maximum of two (2) consecutive terms, except that a person elected to fill a vacancy in the position may serve no more than seven consecutive years.
Get to know Mike Bray. He's a really good guy. You will be working with him often. Get a copy of the current Chairs' and Registrars' Handbook from him. Yes, it will change before next year, but it gives you a head-start on the January Chairs' & Registrars' Meeting.
Attend the January Chairs' & Registrars' Meeting at the Portsmouth office. This is a good idea every year, but is indispensable your first year or two. There is a LOT to learn.
As soon as you get an account and a password from Mike, thoroughly familiarize yourself with the Raiser's Edge on-line registration database ("RE"). Be warned: it is incredibly clunky and archaic. Once registration opens, you will use it almost daily. SIC policy is that only one person in each conference has access to RE, so that if things "mysteriously" change, there is some accountability. Therefore you will be the conduit for all data flowing between RE and the Chairs and Treasurer.
Downloads from RE come as an Excel spreadsheet. If you do not have a spreadsheet program that can open .XLSX files, go get one. You can't do the job without it.
Discuss with the Chairs when they want to cut off first-come-first-served registrations ("FCFS"). Initially, RE is set to Accept everyone who registers. You may have Mike Bray flip the switch to "Waitlist everyone" when you approach your target number of registrants. Set this number realistically. The Chairs need some flexibility to make sure late-registering must-haves, such as their Speaker, the Minister of the Week, Staff, and special guests who they have invited, can get accepted off the waitlist.
Please remember that setting this cut-off number is the Chairs' job, not yours. Likewise it is their job to decide who they will accept off the waitlist. Your job is to carry out their wishes.
Monitor the first few days of Registration carefully. It can be a tsunami. In 2018 we had 175 people register on February 1. We switched to "waitlist everyone" on February 2 at 275.
Be especially mindful of how many children under 7 are registering. These families MUST be housed on the 2nd floor of the hotel, which only has 32 sleeping rooms, 3 of which (OC-11, OC-12, and OC-13) are by the stairs and do not sleep young children very well at all.
Pay special attention to which youngsters need a crib ("Pack & Play"). Check the housing charts. There are only certain rooms on 2nd floor which have room for one.
Pay special attention to children under 18 who are not accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, and adult siblings are NOT legal guardians. Each such child must have a completed Minor Medical Release Form mailed (not emailed - they must have the original signature) to the Portsmouth office before the child will be allowed on the island. SIC is VERY strict about this. Any child under 18 who is accompanied by someone who is not their parent or legal guardian must have one, even if it is only for one night.
Monitor children in general (always a good idea!). Children under 18 are restricted to the hotel, Gosport, Cottage D, and the Parsonage. For safety, I strongly recommend separating teen-aged boys and girls into separate buildings, usually Gosport for one and Cottage D for the other. No sense asking for trouble!
You may house a child with a special-needs parent/guardian in one of the Accessible rooms on the first floor of Cottage A, but must receive special permission from the island to do so.
If you begin to exhaust one of these housing resources, you might want to talk to the Chairs about cutting off FCFS right then. Once you accept more families with kids under 7 than will fit on the 2nd floor of the hotel, you have a serious problem on your hands.
The Chairs will want to know what the registration numbers are daily at first, at least until the tsunami subsides. They also need to know who on their Staff has not registered once you switch over to Waitlist mode so they can get after them to register. They also need to track how many children of which ages have been accepted so they can work with the Children's Program Coordinators to be certain there are enough Group Leaders assigned to each age group.
Housing children who are not staying with their parents can be a nightmare, especially the younger teens. Many of them list their preferred roommates on their registration form, but many do not. Many of these requests contradict each other. You will think you are right back in Junior High school! Your best resource for determining who can room together and who can't is probably the Children's Program Coordinators. Plan on spending quite a bit of time on the phone with them trying to come up with a housing plan that will not set off World War III. You will also wind up calling individual parents. This is probably the most time-consuming single item on this list and will eat up whatever free time you have in late May/early June.
As things change (the Chairs accept people off the waitlist, people cancel or change their arrival/departure date, etc), be sure to enter those changes into RE as they occur. If you let them pile up, you are bound to forget to make an important change that results in somebody not being on the right boat list or something.
Requests for Single rooms and First-floor accommodations can be a problem. There are only 9 single rooms on the island, only 2 of which are first-floor Singles. There are only 11 first-floor rooms (other than the Motel Units), counting the 3 Accessible rooms in Cottage A. Excess applicants will wind up occupying what otherwise would be a Double room. You may have to get Mike's permission to move someone who requested a First-floor Standard room into a Motel Unit.
Get to know who likes what room or rooms, even if they don't put it on their registration form. You will inevitably screw this up the first year or two. Expect people, even your fellow ex-Chairs, to fuss at you when it happens.
Only a limited number of rooms have electrical outlets. They are supposed to be reserved for people who have a legitimate medical need. "I need to work all week, so I need to plug in my laptop" is NOT a legitimate medical need. A CPAP machine is. You will be amazed at how many people with CPAP machines forget to ask for a room with an outlet when they register. All the rooms on Atlantic Avenue (2nd floor of Atlantic House) have outlets. That is where you will house the very youngest children so their parents can use their remote baby monitors.
I always considered that the Parsonage belongs to the Chairs. Ask the Chairs who they want there.
StarLoft belongs to the island. They will invite who they want to stay there. They may or may not ask you for a recommendation. Once they fill it, your housing matrix will change as one or two new rooms elsewhere are now open. Pester Mike to make this decision as early as possible as it will likely let the Chairs invite new people off the waitlist.
Don't plan any long trips in June. You will be surprised how many cancellations happen as the deadline for getting your deposit back approaches. If you still have a waitlist, the Chairs will want to fill those slots. Also in June:
Finalize your housing chart and get it to Mike Bray.
Generate a report for the Children's Program Coordinators telling them what children are in what rooms, and where their parents/guardians are staying.
Chase down any Minor Medical Release Forms that have not as yet been received by Mike.
Make a thorough pass through RE to be sure you haven't missed a coming or a going.
Finally, the last week, Mike will send you a Billing Report which says how much each conferee will be billed. You need to really check this list to make sure people are being billed correctly. For example, if someone registered for a Standard Double room, but you had to move them to a Motel Unit (see #17 above), be sure they are only being charged the Standard Double rate. You must approve the list.
Plan on spending your Saturday dealing with room-switch requests (see #19 above) and slip-ups (see #16 above).
Schedule an on-island meeting with Mike and our Treasurer during the week to tie up all the loose ends.
Remember to have fun with the job. I did.
-- Ron Cordes, 2018