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BEST PRACTICE: Strengthening our youth orders

HOW-TO: Get involved with Masonic youth

Your mission: Educate, engage, excel

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Question of the month

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BEST PRACTICE: Strengthening our youth orders

In the years following World War I, Masons in the United States helped establish three youth orders dedicated to teaching young men and women the values of Masonry. A few years ago, California Masons vowed to revitalize these orders.

Strategic priorities
Here’s how youth order support fits into the 2010-2015 strategic plan

  • Membership experience: Enhances overall quality of the membership experience through increased opportunities for involvement and youth leadership
  • Beyond the lodge: Deepens the connection between members and the worldwide body of Freemasonry by strengthening fraternal bonds with Masonic youth
  • Philanthropy: Improves philanthropy programs by expanding support for youth; increases community involvement and public awareness through participation in youth order activities

 

How to follow Liberty Lodge’s lead
In Santa Clara, Liberty Lodge No. 299 embraced the cause. Brother Richard Hatchett, dad advisor to Santa Clara DeMolay, explains:

Many members of Liberty Lodge - including me - had been members of DeMolay, and felt a strong connection with the youth order. Unfortunately, the chapter closed a number of years ago. In June 2009, our master asked us to restart it.

Starting from scratch

  • Fundraising:Lodge wives and ladies held a game night fundraiser at a member’s home, supplemented by a lodge donation. We raised $2,000 for chapter startup.
  • Manpower:Twelve lodge members met for initial planning.
  • Help from the jurisdiction: The executive director of Northern California DeMolay met with us to explain the process. NorCal DeMolay provides a start-up kit and assistance forming an advisory council, applying for Letters Temporary, and initiating members.
  • Adult advisors: Each chapter must have at least three Master Masons on the advisory council, including the chairman. The rest of the council can be any man or woman age 21 or older. We all completed the DeMolay Advisor Development (D.A.D.) training program, which was arranged by the NorCal DeMolay office.
  • DeMolays: We recruited by spreading the word to all the lodges in Santa Clara Valley and providing info at a Child ID booth we sponsored at a local festival.
  • TIP: Visit masons4youth.org for information on becoming an adult leader or starting a local group for DeMolay, Job’s Daughters, and Rainbow Girls.

Meet the chapter

  • The DeMolays: After 18 months, we have nine DeMolay members. The goal is to have 12-15.
  • The “dads”: We have six adult advisors, all Masons from lodges in the Santa Clara Valley.
  • The meetings: We meet twice a month, with refreshment before each meeting.
  • The extracurriculars: Our DeMolays’ favorite activities revolve around video games, movies, and pizza! We’ve also:
    • volunteered at several festivals with a Child ID booth
    • performed flag presentation at Masonic installations
    • hosted a Mother's Day breakfast at the lodge with the presentation of the Flower Talk ceremony

Continued lodge support

  • Member presence: Anywhere from two to seven lodge members attend every youth event, and we’re trying to increase that number.
  • Financial support: The lodge is a major supporter for youth fundraisers.
  • Physical space: The lodge donates its facilities for DeMolay meetings and events.
  • Virtual space: Our chapter advisory committee created a chapter website, santaclarademolay.org, and a lodge member created the chapter’s Facebook page. Another lodge member volunteered to maintain both sites.

Challenges

  • It was a challenge recruiting young men to join the chapter, in large part because there were very few DeMolay-age sons at Masonic lodges in the valley.
  • We have to work hard to encourage the DeMolay members to voice their ideas. It also takes work to keep them committed to chapter activities. There are a lot of things for kids to do nowadays.

Benefits
We’re helping shape the youth of today into the leaders of tomorrow. We also hope they’ll feel welcome in the fraternal family and continue their Masonic experience as Master Masons.

I see myself in some of the DeMolays in our chapter. As a young boy, I was very shy. I joined Santa Clara DeMolay because my father was a Mason. It was there that I learned how to speak in front of a group; organize and lead others; and make lifelong friends. I hope I can teach our DeMolays the lessons I learned.

For more information, contact: Richard Hatchett, rhatc87763@aol.com.

 

 

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HOW-TO: Get involved with Masonic youth

Here are suggestions for partnering with local youth, compiled from lodges throughout the state.

Lodge events

  • Invite youth orders and their families to officer installations, cornerstone ceremonies, holiday parties, and other lodge events
  • Hold an On The Level night just for youth orders to answer any questions they may have about Masonry
  • Ask for youth orders to participate in serving meals at On The Level events and/or stated meetings
  • Ask youths to create fliers and posters to publicize lodge events

Youth order events

  • Provide transportation and supervision for youth order activities
  • Encourage lodge attendance at youth order fundraisers and events
  • Plan frequent member visits to youth order meetings

Shared events

  • Host a youth appreciation night at the lodge honoring adult and youth leaders
  • Involve youth orders in Child ID booths, fundraisers, and other lodge volunteer projects
  • Sponsor a special event like a holiday dance or a game night for all of the youth orders in your area, and let them lead the planning process
  • Sponsor a young adult driver's safety class
  • Provide scholarship manuals at youth order meetings and offer help applying for Masonic scholarships

Trestleboard and website

  • Allot space in the lodge Trestleboard for youth orders to submit articles and photos
  • Include youth order contacts and upcoming activities in your Trestleboard and online calendar
  • Include a fundraising note in your Trestleboard to solicit financial help for youth orders
  • Provide web hosting and webmaster support for youth order websites
  • Add links to your lodge website to local and statewide youth order web pages

Financial support

  • Make room in the lodge budget for youth order support
  • Put out a donation jar at stated meetings and lodge events to benefit local youth orders
  • Offer compensation for youth orders to serve dinners/wash dishes at stated meetings and other lodge meals
  • Buy tickets for youth order fundraisers, even if you cannot actually attend
  • Sponsor youth leaders to attend their respective leadership camps
  • Sponsor youth orders to attend their state conventions

Adult leadership

  • Visit masons4youth.org to submit your interest in becoming an adult leader or to request information about starting a local chapter, bethel, or assembly
  • Urge lodge members to join youth order advisory boards and councils
  • Meet regularly with the adult leadership of your lodge's sponsored youth orders to offer support, celebrate accomplishments, and discuss common concerns
  • Help identify future adult leaders to ensure a smooth succession plan when current leaders step down
  • Talk with your lodge about sponsoring a local chapter, assembly, or bethel

 

Have we forgotten something? E-mail suggestions to communications@freemason.org with How-To: Get involved with Masonic youth in the subject line.

 

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Your mission: Educate, engage, excel

It’s the start of a new era in California Masonry. Your “plan for the future” - the strategic plan for 2010-2015 - is in motion. To be successful, the plan calls for every lodge to carry out its objectives.

By now, you should have

  • Downloaded the strategic plan, posted on the Member Center in the Reports & Features section (also mailed to lodges in November)
  • Presented the plan at a stated meeting
  • Posted the plan at lodge and on your website

What’s next? Here are a few ways to begin aligning your lodge with the strategic plan:

Call a special meeting

  • Meet with officers and members to discuss the strategic plan and how to achieve the objectives at your lodge
  • Ask: What strategic priorities do we need to focus on?
  • Ask: What tactics should we implement?
  • For all of the above: Be specific!

Create a lodge strategic plan

  • Read this How-To article for step-by-step instructions
  • Form a special committee of at least six members (officers and non-officers)
  • Refer to the Masons of California strategic plan as a template
  • Include your answers from above in your lodge’s strategic goals
  • Set target dates to implement any new programs or changes
  • Schedule follow-up meetings to discuss your progress

Coming soon

Our entities and Grand Lodge committees and staff are preparing implementation plans that include developing new resources and support for lodges. Watch for progress reports and share them with your members.

 

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Question of the month

Last month we asked if your lodge has a widow outreach program. Of the 103 that responded:

72% - yes
28% - no

 

Of those that said yes, 48 percent said they contact widows two to four times per year.

Here’s your next question.

 

 

 

 

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