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Inside E9: Planning one of the OA’s Biggest Conclaves

  Evan Schilling      

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Inside E9: Planning one of the OA’s Biggest Conclaves

Conclave is one of the single biggest OA events each year, with each section hosting its own, but no section does it quite like Section E9. Section E9, formerly known as SR-7A, historically has had some of the biggest Conclaves in the nation, with attendance in the thousands. I sat down with the 2021-2022 Section E9 Chief, Eli Hattersley before the event to see what makes this Conclave a big success.

What was your first Conclave like?

“I would classify it as my activation event. It was such a big event and it encouraged me to get involved on a different level than the lodge.”

Paint a picture for us. If you’re Johnny or Jackie Arrowman attending the E-9 Conclave, what would your experience be like?

“You walk into camp and are greeted by the welcome committee. Check-in at your lodge tent then hike your stuff to your campsite. After check-in, there is the Conclave Carnival, a fellowship-like event party before the Opening Show. We try to make the shows similar to NOAC shows. We start with introducing Section leadership and COC, then have games and interactive activities, with a speech from the Section Chief. Conclave Carnival starts again after the show, and a Vigil Honor rededication before the night ends hosted by the Host Lodge.

“Saturday morning there are flags and then everyone breaks into training cells. Training cuts at lunch with a new ordeal lunch, and the expo starts. There are around 25-30 vendors at the expo, and we usually invite Miss Virginia.

“Adult activities start around expo time. Quest for the Golden Arrow, which are the lodge games, start up after the expo. Ultimate frisbee, Lodge Pong, and tug-of-war are a few of the games.” “There is an event wide game that happens all weekend, OAHA booth, relay races, OAHA branding. AIA and Ceremonies evaluations happen.” 

“There is a Conclave Service Project where we are helping out [the charity] Loaves and Fishes this year creating notes and goodie bags.” 

“All of this is followed by dinner. After dinner there are the Section Officer Elections and the evening show, which is bigger than the Friday night show. All awards get presented at this show. The Grand Hodag is after the show and is essentially a big carnival. Sunday is the COC meeting and Arrowmen go home.”

So, tell us your secret. What makes E-9’s conclave the nation’s biggest conclave?

“Communication. I think I would credit it to communication. It can’t be all on the section, the lodges do a lot of the promotions.

“The “Disney mentality” of making sure all the behind-the-scenes work is not seen during the weekend is taken in by the leadership to make sure the experience is phenomenal for all Arrowmen.

Is there anything you all are having that’s new or different from last year?

“I would say that our shows have stepped up 10 times from last year. There will be involvement from the crowd and there are many competitions to compete in on stage. This year, the training sessions will also have tracks that can help participants to focus on a particular topic.

“We also have VIA [Very Important Arrowman] from all over the country and this allows Johnny Arrowman to go and learn about all different things in the Order.”

How far in advance is each conclave planned?

“So everything is on this master backdater, including dates for everything like the first day of planning. We start planning in August, with everyone appointed by October 1st.

“I wanted to make the COC as diverse as possible, having a variety of people from every lodge. Every month there is a CVC and adviser call, and this year there is a slide deck with a timeline.”

What has been the most challenging part so far?

“I would say while it is our strong suit, communication is also one of our biggest challenges. Specifically, our internal communication like making a call or sending a slack message. Also, delegation is a very hard thing and managing the workload of our 13 CVCs, seeing who can do what.”

What are you looking forward to the most for this event? 

“The Saturday Night Show. It was probably my activation moment, and I am excited for that show.”

As Conclave has now passed, we can say that the event was indeed a huge success. With over 700 people in attendance and stellar shows, the first Conclave as Section E9 was a bar setter for the following years to come. We can’t wait to see what the new chief, Zach Grinvalsky has in store for next year.