California Bowling Writers

February 10, 2009

What Works – Ask the Camellia City 500 Club
By Mary Lynly

We all remember the pride in being a part of our bowling organizations when membership was of primary importance and although this has ebbed, some groups have leadership that still makes membership important.

Like many bowling affiliated clubs, the Sacramento area Camellia City 500 Club, formed in 1969, has run the gamut of being a formidable organization, then foundering, and then existing. What happens? And, what happened to change that?

In 2006 Shirley Baker became President of the club. She had been a member 20 years and 13 as a Vice President prior to taking over at the helm. Shirley had started working for the State of California as a clerk-typist and ended up with a demanding job of auditing the state prisons and eventually in upper management. She feels she was in the right place at the right time and was fortunate in being able to take advantage of women’s rights in advancing her career. After 38 ½ years she retired.

Baker says she is a business oriented and analytical person and likes people to be prepared in their assignments and if they have issues – bring solutions. With her organizational skills and encouraging people to be a part of the club they now number 160 members and she says her biggest concern is growth! They have eleven events each year: two Invitational’s – one in Reno that draws over 500 bowlers, and one that invites other 500 Clubs. There are three Doubles tournaments that allow guests and six that are member tournaments. Some of these tournaments are sanctioned events and some are just fun events like a No-Tap format. Bowlers must have bowled in five events per year to qualify for their Queen’s tournament and two events to maintain membership.

There are two board meetings each year and one annual meeting in November prior to their Turkey Shoot which she says draws a good group to their meeting. Baker says because of a 30% increase in membership in the last three years they have added two additional directors to their board of eight directors and five officers.

As a guest at one of their tournaments and it was awesome to look down the lanes and see all of their members in their required club black shirts and white pants! Shirley tells me this is the summer uniform and black on black is winter. She also said in the past the club had not been consistent in enforcing certain rules one of which involved uniforms. A new ruling now states, “If you come to bowl and are not in the required uniform you do not bowl.”

I also attended their annual awards and recognition banquet attended by nearly 200 people. Preparation is everything and everything ran like clockwork. At this event every club member is given a ticket upon arrival and each wins a nice prize. Prizes are donated by numerous sponsors.

Their committees consist of Audit, Charity, Communication, Invitational Tournaments, Banquet and Refreshments. Their purpose: “To provide for social and charitable activities, competitive events and other activities related to bowling.” The women of the Camellia City 500 Club have raised and distributed $2700 for charitable endeavors in 2008 including food baskets for families in need, Youth Bowlers programs, The WIBC Hall of Fame and the California BVL Fund.

Shirley is assisted by her able Secretary Marilyn Aki who handles the secretarial and treasurer’s duties with great skill. Marilyn is still computer shy but she is working on it says Shirley! Shirley says they have a website in the works and they are always looking for ways to cut down on postage. She envisions coping with growth by trying multiple squads as they do not want to go beyond four on a lane. Negotiating with the bowling centers is sometimes iffy but they must have a contractual commitment to ensure their spot. Besides their communication team and emailing to the 90% who have email, they accommodate their members with an annual calendar. She proudly announced they will have their 18th Annual tournament in April and the 11th Annual Reno tournament in September.

For all of us who have “been there” making an organization “work” is work. Leadership is what makes an organization tick - participation as bowlers and as leaders. A leader who is able to guide her flock while allowing them to make the decisions that affect the entire group. Shirley is a premier mover and shaker and has used her expertise to inject enthusiasm and appeal for aspiring members. Shirley Baker doesn’t stop at Camellia City 500 Club activities and while she pilots her organization seamlessly from one event to another she still finds time to be active in the Grange and as a square dancer. Her vision for the Camellia City 500 Club: Growth and enticing younger women to become members.