Many times, difficult situations lead to innovative solutions. COVID-19 has given lodges across the country the tough decision of whether to postpone Lodge Officer Elections or to hold them virtually. If local restrictions preclude in-person gatherings, the following guidelines are provided to enable a virtual lodge election to be conducted.
It is beneficial to maintain the same date for the election that you otherwise would have had to minimize confusion. Plan some sort of draw in besides the elections (e.g., O-Shot-Caw lodge had a lodge rededication ceremony that lasted about 20 minutes). You may also have lodge trivia on Kahoot or another activity that can easily be performed via a videoconferencing service. An additional benefit of having a program before the election is that it gives the administration team time to check the dues status of each member on the call.
The first challenge you will encounter is how to determine who on the call is a dues-paid youth and who is an adult. To solve this, you may have everyone turn on their cameras and give instructions to include “youth” or “adult” in their name on the Zoom call. For example, a voting member would be “Johnny Arrowman – Youth,” whereas an adult would be “Johnny Arrowman – Adult.” This will help you gauge how many youth are on the call. As the election takes place, your Membership Team can check every youth’s name with Lodgemaster to ensure they are a dues paid youth in the lodge. This audit system will allow you to ensure that only youth are voting while protecting the privacy of their vote. If a youth has not paid dues, it is up to you if you would like to let them vote with the stipulation of paying within the week or simply not let them vote. In the experiences of lodges so far, the vast majority of people who had not initially paid dues who were allowed to vote, did pay their dues in a timely manner.
Conduct the election as you normally would: accepting nominations from the floor, accepting petitions electronically before the election, etc., then allowing them to speak for the standard amount of time in your lodge. You may also allow for runoffs with additional speeches if your lodge leadership elects to do so. Once all nominees finish speaking, the voting link and password (if applicable) should be sent in the Zoom (or other video conferencing software) chat. We recommend allowing 2-3 minutes for voting, and once the results are collected, a photo of the results can be sent to the Adult Lodge Adviser, for authentication purposes, who will then let the Lodge Chief know the result. This allows the specific results of the election to only be seen by adult advisers but gives the Lodge Chief the opportunity to announce the results. However, if your lodge utilizes chapter caucuses, you may choose to create breakout rooms to which you can assign specific members. Five to seven minutes should be adequate time for a chapter caucus. If your lodge typically verbally announces votes by chapter rather than by ballot, we encourage you to do that as well.
We recommend utilizing your video conferencing service to hold the election itself but tally the votes via a polling platform. There are several polling platforms available that could accomplish this such as Google Surveys, Survey Monkey, and Zoom which has the ability to vote within the platform if you have a paid account. Research each of these platforms to find the best fit for your lodge.
The more changes that are introduced to the election procedure, the more confused your members are likely to become. Maintain as much of a sense of normalcy as possible while conducting your virtual elections.
It is hard to believe that we already find ourselves more than halfway through the year. This week, we are supposed to be gathered together for the 2020 National Order of the Arrow Conference. We may be physically distant, but we aren’t alone. This week as we come together for Momentum Launch, we all must look ahead to delivering our programs in this new normal.
In any leadership role, specific moments arise that seek to define your term. Less than four weeks after our organization started experiencing a period of rapid change and restructuring, we began facing an unprecedented pandemic that would test each of us immensely. The spread of this virus has led to more tough decisions in our organization, like events from the local to the national levels. We know many of you are adapting your chapter or lodge’s programs to reach our members safely. That is no easy undertaking—we’re grateful for your leadership in these trying times. It is tempting to believe these moments can overshadow this year.
At Momentum Launch this week, we will chart a new course for the Order of the Arrow for the remainder of 2020. Our joint commitment to bold, decisive action will enable our organization to emerge from this crisis stronger than ever before.
The instant we let these tough moments define this year and our legacies as leaders, we seal our movement’s fate. This year will be remembered for each day that we take the opportunity to advance our organization. As we move through the second half of 2020, we invite you to join us in staying true to that promise. Together, here’s how we’ll make it happen:
Last October we committed to thrive, setting up this year as our greatest opportunity for growth to-date. By fulfilling this promise, 2020 will be defined by the leaders who kept the momentum going. Our top priority as a national organization continues to be supporting lodges and chapters in these efforts. On behalf of the National Committee, we are publishing our plan as a national organization to join you as we redefine 2020.
Don’t let the tough moments control your year, for your abilities are far stronger than any obstacle you encounter. The challenges of the moment seek to define your term, but your character and resolve will leave a legacy.
With eyes to the sky,
Zach Schonfeld Noah Smith
2020 National Chief 2020 National Vice Chief
New guidelines have been issued to provide lodges in areas under COVID-19 restrictions to proceed with induction events. The objective is to build membership growth and maximize the number of completed inductions while under COVID-19 restrictions and particularly between now and December 31, 2020.
As our communities begin to emerge from sheltering in place and we adjust to our new “normal,” the Order of the Arrow will seek to help Lodges re-engage in their activities, support their local council, and provide cheerful service to their communities.
Goals and Objectives of this plan:
In addition to the portal posted on our webpage, we’ve launched a Facebook group for lodge-leaders to connect and share comments and suggestions regarding best-practices and resources developed by the national organization. You can view and join this group here. Please note: The Order of the Arrow will share these ideas via posts, and you will have the ability to create conversation regarding them in the comments. Only group administrators are permitted to create new posts or conversation topics.
For more information, visit oa-bsa.org/resources/reemerging.
We’ve made some key changes to the process by which adults can be selected by the lodge adult selection committee.
For unit-level adult leaders, the requirement that states at least one youth must be elected in a unit for any adults to be chosen remains. However, instead of the usual one adult per three youth ratio, we are now permitting two adults to be selected per three youth elected.
As an example, if a unit holds an election in which 10 youth are elected, they would be entitled to nominate 6.67 adults. Rounding up means they can nominate up to 7 adults.
As a reminder, an unlimited number of council and district-level adults can be nominated to join the Order. As always, nominees must serve to provide a positive example to the youth and benefit the OA program.
In terms of camping requirements, unit-level adults must have at least 15 nights of camping while registered with a troop, crew, or ship within two years prior to the unit election. The 15 nights must include one, but no more than one, long-term camp consisting of at least five consecutive nights of overnight camping, approved by the standards set by the BSA. For council and district-level adults, however, the camping nights requirement may be waived by the lodge adviser or scout executive.
We’d also like to remind your lodge adult selection committees to time your meetings to include late year nominees. If your lodge is experiencing unusual circumstances or has any questions regarding unit elections for youth or adults, please email @email.