How to Build a Top Travel Team: Overview

by KFC on September 24, 2010

I never had the chance to be part of an established Model UN powerhouse with a lengthy history of winning awards. Instead, I had the opportunity to join two travel teams in their infant stages — Rowland High School’s and UCLA’s — and build them into respected forces on the high school and college Model UN circuits. I learned a lot by leading up-and-coming teams at the high school and college levels, and I hope to share my experience so you can build your team into a force to be reckoned with.

“You ask, what is our policy?…Victory, however long and hard the road may be.”
Sir Winston Churchill

Let me introduce the two examples that serve as my background experience:

  1. My high school’s fledgling Model UN club had about 20 delegates when I joined. We rarely won awards and conference organizers assigned us countries as an afterthought. I worked hard to change this, and by the time I was elected Secretary-General in my junior year, I had helped build the club into a winning team of 120 delegates that could handle powerful country assignments such as the United Kingdom. During my senior year, the club won five Best Delegation awards and attended its first travel conference.
  2. To my surprise, UCLA MUN’s travel team was not particularly active, despite having members that were very experienced in Southern California’s competitive high school Model UN circuit. I decided to take on the role of Head Delegate and build a competitive, partially-subsidized travel team. My efforts paid off as we were assigned influential countries such as China and France at major conferences like Harvard National and Berkeley. We were also able to send a team to WorldMUN.

Turning an inexperienced team into a top travel team is difficult, but it can be done. On the surface, a top travel team wins awards at several competitive conferences every year. But deep down, there’s more going on than just a constant focus on awards.

As an Advisor or Head Delegate trying to build a team, the number of awards won should not be the metric you focus on right now. Winning will come if the team is built sustainably, and if you focus on team members’ interests and development.

The formula to building a top travel team that can compete year after year looks like this:

Top Travel Team = Competitive Strength x Size x Financial Stability

There’s more to a team than these three factors, but they represent the main characteristics of a top travel team at both the high school and college levels. A team’s Competitive Strength, Size, and Financial Stability are the causes behind a team’s ability to win awards. In turn, winning affects the growth of the team’s Competitive Strength, Size, and Financial Stability.

The opportunity for a team to win awards at a given conference is mostly determined by the type of conference, the delegates attending, and the committees they’re in. The secret to building a top travel team starts with selecting the right conferences to attend, selecting the right members to attend them,and placing them in the right committees. I used these strategies to build Rowland High’s and UCLA’s travel teams, and I’ll cover them in upcoming posts.

In the meantime, I’m curious to hear from Advisors, Head Delegates, and other top delegates. Do you think Competitive Strength, Size, and Financial Stability are the three main characteristics of a top travel team? If not, what else comes to mind? Let us know in the comments!

Photo Credit: Julia Starr

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