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gwd-scouter

Chapter doesn't do much

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My earlier post about youngest son going for Brotherhood prompted this post.

 

Are your chapters very active? Ours, sadly, never really has been. Oh, a few guys show up at monthly meetings, a few more if it's close to Fall or Spring Fellowship. But, they do nothing in between.

 

We sure do send a bunch of Scouts and adults through ordeal each summer, since most of our troops attend the same week of summer camp.

 

This weekend is our OA Spring Fellowship and none of the adult chapter advisers went.

 

Oldest son is the Lodge Ceremonies Chairman and youngest is going for Brotherhood this weekend. So, even though our chapter is not active they have both wanted to be and are active members of the OA.

 

But for so many others, is it just about getting that red flap on their pocket?

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Our entire lodge has very little chapter activity. Most things get done at the Lodge level, which works rather well (though I'd like to see more activity in my chapters). Our lodge is small (350 members); some *chapters* in other Lodges are this big. I guess it depends on the size of the Lodge what to expect.

 

Chapter Adviser non-activity is sad, though. That would indicate to me some serious lack of support from people holding positions... which *is* something to have valid concern about.

 

Tell your sons I'm proud that they serve their Lodge; I'm sure the Chief is thankful for their support. I never climbed up through my chapter to become Lodge Chief; it was more a direct Brotherhood member to Vice-Chief transition, then to Chief, so a strong Chapter wasn't essential in my case.

 

And yes, to your final question: many in this day and age have trouble fitting in another activity or committing to another group with such a wide variety of other things available to Scouting-aged kids (sports, drama, speech team, girlfriends, clubs, other commmunity organizations, many more...), and thus make it seem like many new Ordeals are "sash-grabbers." Some are, but most just don't make an effort to attend Lodge events besides the Ordeal due to the foreignness of it (i.e., you get a flyer for an event in the mail and feel that "this isn't for me, it's for more involved OA members...").

 

My philosophy is to "communicate 75% of the way" rather than 50%. The best people to recruit to jumpstart a chapter are new Ordeals who have joined within the past year... just keep on them, most likely they *want* to do something in the Lodge, but don't know *how*.

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I wonder what your chapter is tasked with doing by the lodge? You mention that a bunch of scouts and adults are sent through ordeal each summer - that sounds like the ordeal is done as part of summer camp, something many lodges do. My experience is that most lodges who do ordeals during summer camp also do the call-out ceremonies during summer camp as well - is this true of your lodge?

 

If so, this likely leaves just one task for a chapter to do - elections - and let's be frank, elections aren't a very high profile, rewarding task - its an administrative function that must be done - and elections don't help a chapter to be vibrant and active. If this is the only thing the lodge needs the chapter to do, then I'm not surprised that there isn't more participation in the chapter. I also wouldn't be surprised at the seeming indifference of the chapter's advisors to lodge events since they probably see that their duties amount to very little within the OA - chances are the chapter advisor position in such a chapter is an "add-on" one hour a month (a real one-hour too - not a ten-hour one-hour) job to someone's "real" responsibility.

 

Something many people aren't aware of (until they get involved in leadership at the lodge level) is that chapters are not a required part of the lodge structure - they are optional. The lodge is responsible for the ceremonies, for elections, for planning fellowships - not the chapters. The duties of chapters is to assist the lodge, as directed by the lodge, in completing the duties of the lodge.

 

I went to a summer camp of a very large council (not my home council) where the call-out ceremony (very impressive, I might add) was done during summer camp, as was the ordeal - this particular summer camp scheduled itself in 4 two-week sessions, with a call-out and ordeal held in the middle of each session (4 call-outs and ordeals every summer) - units that only stayed one week usually left on Sunday. Their chapters weren't very active - they only did elections.

 

In my lodge, also from a very large council (and neighboring council to the above mentioned), ordeal was done during the spring and fall fellowships - not during summer camp. Camp sessions were scheduled as one week sessions (many troops stayed two weeks, but there was limited program available on the weekends - units were encouraged to use that time for off-camp trips (canoeing, horseback overnights, etc.)). Since there was no call out or ordeals during summer camp, the chapters had to plan and run their own call-out ceremonies, which were done during spring camporees. This lead to very strong, very active chapters. Elections weren't as much of a chore because we were able to tie it in directly with our spring call-outs and that helped to create a sense of excitement about the elections among the election teams (in most of the chapters election team members got first crack at participating in the call-out ceremonies as escorts). Lodge leadership came directly from the chapters - if you weren't active in a chapter and ran for election as a lodge officer, your chances of winning were virtually zero - people asked members of the chapter you were in how you were as a leader of the chapter. Chapters were asked, on a rotating basis, to plan and run the fall fellowship (spring fellowship, held in June at the council's summer camp, was always planned by the lodge).

 

It all comes down to the question "what is the function of the chapter in the lodge". If it's just elections, then chapters probably won't be very active - there is just nothing there to hold the interest of the lads. If it includes running their own ceremonies, planning and running a fellowship, etc., then you'll see very active chapters that provide meaningful activities for the lads.

 

CalicoPenn

 

 

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Chapters should be running their own election teams at a bare minimum.

 

Chapters should also have some "fun" things to do. There is nothing that says a chapter activity cannot be an evening bowling, a visit to a local comedy club, or a service project. Our chapter has done all these.

 

It comes down to how much imagination the chapter chief and the chapter adviser have :)

 

One way to encourage Chapter meeting attendance is for the Chapter Chief to give feedback to Scoutmasters on whether OATRs are attending, and thus meeting the duties of their POR.

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We have four chapters and each year two of them are responsible for a lodge event. each year our one day of service and winter banquet are rotated and it is the responsibility of the chapter to plan the event. Our chapters have progressviely gotten more active. Some are coordinating their own service days and camping trips. My chapter has continued to do a barbeque meeting every may.

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I think rj hit on the key - service. Think Brotherhood of Cheerful Service. They don't grow in brotherhood if they're not working together on something meaningful that they can take pride in.

Consider some options:

Chapter service project to clean up local park, maintain trails, build a bridge, etc. Get out the word through SM Roundtable, phone calls, emails, etc. to your local Chapter OA members. "Calling all Arrowmen! Our park needs your help!! Etc."

First turnout will probably not be huge, but make it fun and meaningful, and you'll get more the next time as word spreads.

 

If no local parks come to mind, I'll bet your closest Boy Scout camp could use some help with something. Make it a day event, or plan on a campout.

 

After you get the guys from different local troops working together, you might find them able/willing to take on other projects, like providing significant support to summer Cub Scout day camp. Maybe even helping staff local Camporees.

 

Good luck!

-mike

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