Starting and Continuing the Magic!
As Arrowmen we each completed the same Ordeal, however each of us had our own
unique experience. There is no question about the importance of conducting
first-class Ordeals, however the more pressing
question is how to make it happen.
The first step to making a great Ordeal is easily stated, but is much harder to
achieve. This first step is communication.
Communication is perhaps the most mentioned idea you will hear from an individual
about creating a great Ordeal. The bottom line is that there is no escaping the continuing
need of communication.
Some people may be tired of hearing it, but it is key.
It is important to remember that a large part of a successful Ordeal is the induction
of new members. Everything that happens throughout the weekend becomes a first impression
for each of the candidates. Making each candidate feel welcome by those who will
become his brother by the end of the weekend is important.
help insure that each new brother feels welcome,
many lodges have employed
a program known as the Extended Elangomat Program. The Extended Elangomat Program
helps at both making new members feel welcome, and also helps the lodge with Brotherhood
Conversion. In short, the Elangomat from each clan keeps in contact with each
new member from the clan,
and truly becomes a friend to him. Initially the Elangomat will make the
member feel welcome after completing his Ordeal, and further down the line will
personally contact him to make sure he is coming to the next Ordeal.
Rather then employing an Extended Elangomat Program, some lodges have decided
to utilize the OA Troop/Team Representative Program to help welcome
new members. Basically the Troop / Team
Representative keeps in touch with the new members that come from
his unit, instead of the Elangomat.
This method works well for some Lodges, others use the Entended Elangomat
program, and some lodges use both approaches.
Ceremonies are what basically begin and end the Ordeal experience. The Pre-Ordeal
Ceremony is arguably the most important, as it is in fact the first glimpse a new
member gets into what the Order of the Arrow really is. In order to have exceptional
ceremonies ceremonialists must truly get into character. When you step into the
ring, you are now the principal you are playing. Each line of the ceremony should
be natural, and the best way to
do that is to learn the part. The most successful
ceremonial teams have numerous practices outside of Lodge Ordeals to help
them prepare for a great experience.
The Order of the Arrow is obviously rich with
Native American Culture, and exposing
new members to American Indian elements
can do nothing but enhance first impressions
made by new members. Some lodges choose to have their Dance Team perform between
ceremonies, others will host a busk or pow-wow. Regardless, it is important to allow
new members the opportunity to be introduced to such elements of the OA.
The bottom line is making members feel welcome throughout the weekend. After
the Ordeal the Lodge Chief should be out and amongst the candidates thanking them
for the work they have done. Furthermore, candidates should have an opportunity
to ask any questions they may have about the Order. Each lodge seems to have a mildly
different approach to this. Some just have a casual Question and Answer session,
others go as far as having a new member breakfast where the new members get to meet
the lodge leadership, and learn some more about the OA, and the ceremonies they
have gone through.
Helping new members get oriented to both their lodge, and the Order as a whole
is the key here. Many have heard about the
new Jumpstart Program launched in January of 2003.
The first part to this program is
an orientation session designed specifically for new members. The
Lodge Orientation Guide can
be found here on the national web
site. The second part of the Jumpstart Program
gets a little more high-tech, and finds itself online. For
those who have not heard
the Jumpstart web
site has numerous
resources designed specifically for new members.
addition to the Jumpstart program, the
Program Resource Book provides lodges with a number of resources including membership
retention, and Brotherhood conversion. The key thing to remember is that each lodge
is unique in its own ways. The most successful Ordeals will come from the lodge
leadership coming together, identifying the needs of the lodge, and ultimately developing
a strategy on how to meet the needs of the lodge.
Inducting new members is a wonderful thing, but equally
important is keeping them
around. Making them feel welcome, and exposing them to just how dynamic of an organization
the OA is will undoubtedly make the new members of your lodge as excited about the
OA as you are. Things like Brotherhood Conversion will happen naturally when the
many pieces of the puzzle fall in place, and new members feel welcome from the moment
they arrive for their Ordeal.