By Don Young
In 2004, I did my Ordeal at Beaumont Scout Reservation as an adult. I will admit my Ordeal experience was not pleasant and I would become one of the dreaded ‘sash and dash’ Arrowmen.
It would be nine years before I put my sash on again. I was asked to become the Lodge Adviser for Cuyahoga Lodge 17 in the fall of 2013. I was introduced at the winter banquet that year and given a great opportunity to help this lodge get back on its feet.
Thirty-six people attended that year, but more importantly only six were youth members of the lodge.
I had three goals I wanted to focus on during my tenure as Lodge Adviser.
The first was to not only increase new membership, but to retain it. At Spring Ordeal this year, we had a record number of Ordeal candidates and eight others who sealed their membership by attaining Brotherhood.
We have established communication practices with candidates who have been elected but who have not completed their Ordeal, as well as a distribution list of Arrowmen who are eligible for Brotherhood.
My second goal was to return the lodge to being run by the youth members of the Top 5. They would be responsible for planning and running the Top 5 meetings, monthly lodge meetings, and lodge activities.
I think they have done a very good job at doing just that and I think the themes, program, and attendance reflect that.
Lastly, I wanted to improve communication with members of the lodge, youth and adult Ordeal candidates, and units within the Greater Cleveland Council.
Our communications team has done an amazing job with Teepee Talk in not only making it informative, but publishing it on a regular basis.
Our Lodge Chief has begun using text messages to communicate important dates to the members of the lodge.
And finally, our Vice Chief of Communication has begun an overhaul of the lodge website that we hope to unveil soon.
The lodge has reestablished its presence within the Greater Cleveland Council. Our summer camp callout is amazing and the OA ice cream social is a popular event.
We have a Cub Scout program that recognizes kids for their attendance at summer camp. We have been invited to participate in Cub Scout Arrow of Light and bridging ceremonies.
The programs we deliver at Ordeal and Fellowship weekends are getting better every time. The lodge has put on Den Chief training at BPI the last two years to service the needs of units in our council.
Lodge members have served on staff for events at Beaumont Scout Reservation, Section Conclave, ALTC, NOAC, district camporees, and summer camp.
The patches that have been designed for lodge events have spurred sales in the OA trading post.
Last summer, we took a contingent of 20 youths to NOAC at Michigan State University.
Attendance at the winter banquet (now called the Red & White Banquet) has increased from 36 to 95 to 150 in the last two years. Our goal for the upcoming banquet this December is 200.
Looking forward to the next 100 years of the Order of the Arrow, I think the future is bright for Cuyahoga Lodge 17 and the OA.
Changes are on the horizon that could greatly expand our lodge in terms of membership and territory.
The focus of the youth Top 5 will continue to be seeking to add and maintain new members, enhance our communications with lodge members and the units that we represent, and increase our presence in the Greater Cleveland Council.
The Order of the Arrow, Scouting’s national honor society, will continue to be a place where youth and adult members can expand their leadership responsibilities, have opportunities to serve others in our council, attend BSA High Adventure through the OA, and have fellowship with the other members of the lodge.
I am very proud of where the lodge is right now, but I am just as confident that the best is yet to come.
This month, the lodge will be electing new leaders for the coming year, as well as looking for youths and adults who would like to be involved in helping set the direction for the lodge.
Why not get out front and help lead us to even better things?