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gwd-scouter

OA Chapter is almost gone

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Older son was asked a few months ago to be Chapter Advisor for the remainder of this year since the former advisor wasn't doing anything. Our Chapter Chief also hasn't been doing anything this year. At this week's chapter meeting, only members present were older son, younger son and another Scout. Very sad. Older son is trying to revive this Chapter, but it seems it will be quite a struggle.

 

For years, our Chapter was very active with a large membership. The problem though was that the advisor, officers, and most of the membership all came from the mega-troop in town. Advisor was the SM, other adults were ASMs, and the youth officers were their sons. They ran the OA like an extension of their own troop which drove away boys from other Troops.

 

I watch at summer camp year after year as a great number of boys from our District are called out for the OA. They do the ordeal, they get their pocket flap, and then are never seen except a few that attend the lodge fellowship campouts.

 

Now, that Troop is not involved at all and there are lingering negative feelings about the Chapter among the other Troops in town.

 

My sons and the other Scout at the meeting this week did go to one of the Troops in town to help them have their very first OA election ever. Seems the SM of that Troop had hard feelings about OA and actively discouraged it in his Troop. I guess older son helped change his mind.

 

Have any of you experienced this in your OA chapters? If so, what was done to help turn it around?

 

 

 

 

 

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A chapter is not an entity of itself, but is a subset of the Lodge. What is the Lodge leadership doing to help? The Chapter Chief needs to be addressing his issues to the LEC and asking for their help. Your son, the advisor, should be attending Roundtable and District Committee meetings to represent the OA as well. At least in my District, the Chapter advisor is an ex officio member of the District Committee. Every troop should have an OA Troop Representative as a POR...there's your core membership and work it from there. As with everything else, "Program, Program, Program."

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Well, my son the OA Advisor does go to roundtable every month and does have time on the agenda to talk about the OA. Chapter Chief is not at all involved so getting him to talk to the Lodge is not going to happen. Older son has been told at roundtables by a few SMs that they would get their OA Troop Representative to contact him, but so far none have.

 

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Same experience here, GWD. I have been continually disappointed when comparing this lodge to the one I was in as a boy scout. No comparison at all. But then, I don't have time to volunteer for everything so I'm willing to let it whimper into oblivion if that's its fate.

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I've been there. I was elected chapter secretary of a largely inactive chapter because I was one of the few youths to show up. I didn't do much myself. A while later, when I got very interested in the OA, I took over as chapter chief. (No election, it was a coup. ;-) )

 

Sounds like you're on the right track. Rebuilding is slow but rewarding.

 

You don't say how large the district is, but geography can pose obstacles. My old chapter held its meetings the same night as district meetings to make transportation easier.

 

Are other chapters in the lodge experiencing similar problems, or have they in the past? Suggest that your son contact other advisors of similarly-sized chapters to get their suggestions.

 

Leadership: You need to have someone active in that chapter chief role, even if it's just with the understanding that it's a temporary gig, for a few months until you get your numbers up and can have a meaningful chapter election. That person should be the one taking small steps and leading the charge, rather than the advisor.

 

Recruitment: Find two members who are interested and have flexible schedules and turn them into a traveling election team, hitting every troop in the district. (Tip: Have any members who are homeschoolers? Their parents may be more inclined to let them stay out late on so-called "school nights" attending other troops' functions.)

 

Retention:

(1) Check with your Lodge secretary and get a list of those inactive members, then contact them directly. Personal letters, with a copy of the Lodge newsletter and event sign-up information, can go a long way toward reconnecting those wayward souls.

(2) Crunch the data. Are these fallouts younger Scouts or older Scouts? From a particular troop? What time of year did they join and complete their Ordeal? What events do they attend (fellowship weekends where the focus is partying or induction weekends where the focus is work)? Those might give you clues on how to approach them.

 

Program: The most common complaint about the OA - lodge and chapter - is that "They don't DO anything." You've got to fight against the boring-ceremony adult-coffee-klatch trail-clearing stereotype.

(1) If a lot of your troops go to a council camp, talk to the camp staff OA rep about organizing some special events to pique their interest. Go beyond ice cream socials to off-camp canoe treks or survival expeditions for OA members only.

(2) We got people interested in the chapter through a ski trip. Similar special activities in your area can also work - make them something your troops aren't already doing.

(3) Once you've got a close-hold core of interested Arrowmen, develop a chapter specialty - ceremonies, physical arrangements, dance, costumes, kitchen crew, elangomats, nimats - and make that your chapter's "brand." Don't block out folks from other chapters, but make sure your team is dependable and known for their work.

 

Communications:

(1) Have your chapter chief attend the Roundtable and speak in place of the advisor. An appeal from a youth may have more of an impact.

(2) Get the troop OA reps' names and contact them directly - don't wait for them to contact you. (Also, if the chapter's inactive, how can the troop reps be doing their jobs?)

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shortridge gave some good advise. I'll add and amplify a few things.

 

* time and location of a chapter meeting is important. In many areas, its at the same time/place as the monthly roundtable, to help with transportation. Not sure if that works or not, but its used many places successfully.

 

* program, program, program. There needs to be a reason for having the YOUTH to attend chapter meetings. Its vital that there be some attraction to come. So its vital to have a program or purpose (more then just chit-chat). Have a program that will attract them. Doing chapter activities OUTSIDE lodge events and chapter meetings is also a good idea. Doesn't have to be big or major, but something to bring the kids in.

 

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Thanks for the advice so far, I will print them and give to my son.

 

- OA meetings are now held an hour before the monthly district roundtable. This change in schedule has been widely publicized in newsletters, emails, websites, etc.

 

- Agree the chapter needs a Chief that is actually there and doing something, rather than Advisor picking up the slack. As it has been for the past three months, older son Advisor, younger son, and one other Scout have been the only participants at meetings. All three are working all summer at Scout Camp, but plan to get serious about building up meetings in the fall even if no one has the official title of Chapter Chief.

 

- Those three have already discussed and it has already been announced at roundtable that the Chapter will help plan and staff this year's fall camporee and be in charge of setting up campfire program. A large task for what is now only a 3-man Chapter, but these three are VERY enthusiastic Scouts/Scouter.

 

 

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The chapter Advisor/Chief relationship is analogous to the SM/SPL relationship. Has the Advisor tried to actively mentor and develop interest in the Chief? Do they even talk? If it is clear that the Chief is not interested, then talk to the Lodge advisor and remove him from office...just like an SPL who is AWOL. Then as shortridge said, appoint an "Interim Chief" until such time as valid elections can be held. And I agree, if the OA Troop Reps are not even showing up for Chapter meetings, they need to be removed from their POR as well.

 

Good Luck to your son!

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"if the OA Troop Reps are not even showing up for Chapter meetings, they need to be removed from their POR as well."

 

Since it's the SM who selects the OA Troop Reps, with usually no oversite/input of the lodge, good luck with that...

 

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I love the idea of the chapter sponsoring a camporee. I wish I'd taken that initiative in my day. But boy, do those three guys have a big task ahead of them!

 

I'd encourage them to use their time on camp staff this summer to mine other peoples' experiences and advice. They've got one of the biggest and best resource pools right at hand there.

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I've been a chapter advisor several times through the years, and emb021 nailed it: PROGRAM. Scouts and leaders are overwhelmed with busy schedules and a meeting "just because" won't draw the attendance and serves no purpose. The last time I was a chapter advisor I offered ideas such as BBQs, helping with the annual shoreline cleanup, a Toys for Tots drive at Christmas time, etc. The chapter chief decided to stay with chapter meetings at roundtable. Once he made that decision, I required him to have a program that revolved around something other than food. He couldn't pull it together, so we cancelled the meetings. To this day, the chapter is still largely dysfunctional and has minimal attendance at lodge activities. Our last Ordeal weekend had about 120 lodge members present, this particular chapter had 3 youth and 3 adults participating.

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Interesting discussion... on top of trying to rebuild my son's troop (see previous posts), with better successes this year then, the two previous years, I am also rebuilding our OA chapter. Before I was asked to take over the adviser position for the chapter, it was down to 3 boys from the same troop, attending meetings, with a very young adviser, who was a 21 YO Eagle scout from the same troop, who had been chapter adviser for almost 2 years with the chapter. In that time he had strongly discouraged adult OA members being active in the chapter, or even attending meetings. The perception was the chapter was only for that particular troop, and has been that way for quite a while.

 

Since I am the camping chair for the district committee, the chapter adviser has always been a member of the district committee, so I'm wearing two hats at those meetings. The Adviser should be asked to report on the progress and activities of the chapter when the committee meets, which can be tremendously helpful if you need assistance from that group of experienced scouters. Our chapter had a still running Yahoo group/List serv for the chapter, that contained some great history in the communications that were archived on the board. Unfortunately, the last adviser to have ownership of the board, never turned over the password to his replacement, so it spits out meeting announcements each month, within a half hour of the current meeting time, which is 30 minutes before the monthly Roundtable. We, instead, set up a separate chapter list serv, to begin to build communication between our members. We had the added issue of two parts to our chapter, one being urban, and the other going South of town out to 70 miles, where alot of the units were spread out. The members in the South group refused to attend the in-town, meetings, so we had only about half of our members able to attend meetings, monthly. We have since started a South, sub chapter, to offer a means for those members to become active. There are troops down there that have SM's who won't support OA, because of this perceived inequality, but seem to have alot of youth in the troops who are brotherhood members. They will probably start a ceremony team off their own, and the Chapter Chief position will rotate between the two groups from year to year, with the Vice Chief being in the other group.

 

As for how to best bring the chapter together, elections are obviously the key to bringing in, new, excited arrowmen, without the negative baggage that can come with youth and adults who have witnessed a chapter linger for too long on the edge of oblivion. We are going to be having social gatherings for the new ordeal members, after each conclave, as a means to encourage them to consider being active in the chapter, at least by the time they make brotherhood.

 

Lock-ins are a great means to bring the new and brotherhood members together. We started by watching movies of films that related to the tribe of our chapter (we are Cheyenne), and started to rebuild the chapter regalia as it related to building the ceremony team. Our 2nd lock-in we spent having the boys cutting the fabric they purchased to sew their own ribbon shirts. I want them to wear them at Conclave as much as possible, and to then start on making scratch moccasins (no kits) which are cheaper to make. None of this can or will happen without the help of adult chapter members, and if you don't have any members who use sewing machines in the chapter, then some parents may need to be recruited to help give the boys access.

 

Between the chapter responsibility of performing Arrow of Light/Crossover ceremonies and OA elections/camping promotions, there is a great deal of opportunity for arrowmen to take on leadership responsibilities and promote the chapter to troops and packs. We are hopeful to see our boys return for Fall Conclave to perform a Pre-Ordeal ceremony, as well as to eventually have a drum team. My son is the only member who dances, but being Dakota is something that he brings to the chapter and lodge that I hope is of some assistance as an example of what any youth can bring if they are proud to wear their sash. I agree that a monthly report to the district committee on the status of the chapter, and the kind of assistance that would be helpful, is important for the committe to hear. Having a strong OA chapter is just as important as strong membership and advancement committee/programs.(This message has been edited by kahits)

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kahits,

 

I'm sorry if I'm misreading something, but I'm a bit confused. You say that a 21-year-old was the chapter advisor, and had been for two years. A 21-year-old would be a youth in the OA, and thus unable to serve as an advisor. Chief, yes, advisor, no.

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Maybe I misspoke... I know he was 21 in 2006, which means he may have been appointed soon after his birthday. The transition from youth to adult is a difficult one, and I'm witnessing that in this situation.

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" A 21-year-old would be a youth in the OA, and thus unable to serve as an advisor. Chief, yes, advisor, no. "

 

I thought you aged out of youth in OA on your 21st birtday.

 

 

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