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High-membership lodges create unique ways to communicate with chapters, members

  Michael Sherburne       February 17, 2014       Lodge Ledger

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Have you ever noticed that a stream coming from the top of a mountain goes down towards a river or lake in the valley? Think of the stream as a flow of information; this represents the way that our lodges send down information to each of its members. Take an inside look at how Amangamek-Wipit Lodge from Bethesda, Maryland, and Nentico Lodge from Baltimore, Maryland, connect with their members effectively even with gargantuan membership levels.

With over 1,700 members, Nentico Lodge uses its lodge executive committee as a key communications avenue to its chapters. The lodge can determine the progress of its programs through the operation reports collected from the chapters at each meeting. After meetings, the lodge uses social media and its website to keep the chapters updated. Chapter size is not an issue for Nentico Lodge, as explained by lodge chief Colin Ganley. "A chapter that has a strong core of leaders that can easily communicate internally and externally relative to the size of the chapter is the most efficient."

Amangamek-Wipit Lodge employs a unique approach in dispersing information and work loads on approximately 4,100 members across southern Maryland, Washington, D.C. and northern Virginia. The lodge implemented a service area system to delegate major events. Each area has four to five chapters consisting of 150 to 400 members. "The area chief heads up the area's efforts, whether it be through coordinating an area leadership development conference (an LLD on a smaller scale), organizing JTE numbers, or anything in between," said Amangamek-Wipit Lodge Vice Chief of Communications Ben Press. He also added that the role of an area chief is a smaller version of a lodge chief, and area chiefs help the lodge chief handle sending down information to the twenty-three chapters.

While chapters within large lodges have strong participation, they face their own unique issues. Communication starts to become a major challenge when reaching out to individual members. One such chapter is Old Dominion based in Fairfax County, Virginia. Old Dominion's chapter chief, Ben Washechek, says the Order of the Arrow Troop/Team Representative (OATR) program has been a useful tool for large chapters in reaching out to individual members, and he is using it to keep in contact with troops. "I have detailed one of my vice chiefs to gather important information at roundtables," said Washechek, "In this way, we will have a constant supply of current contact information flowing into the chapter."

The flow of information from top down in a large lodge has been made easier by taking advantage of all available resources, along with innovative solutions. Lodges should have no issue with their large size, as long as they have dedicated leadership. Strong leadership in a large chapter will still work effectively as long as they have good camaraderie and the ability to effectively communicate what needs to be done.