Sections have been tasked with implementing Link, a new training program designed to target the Journey to Excellence requirements that lodges struggle with the most. In its first year, Link provided section leaders with the resources they needed to help their lodges improve in unit election rate, youth membership retention and lodge event participation rate. As sections all across the Order have begun to tackle these issues and implement Link, some success stories have really stood out.
In Section SR-7A, Link was incorporated into the Section Leadership Summit that took place in February at the Heart of Virginia Scout Reservation. The event had two main purposes: providing a “train the trainer” program for lodge and conclave trainers and sessions covering Link. The Link sessions were attended by everyone present at the event, from conclave leadership to up-and-coming lodge members. Section Chief Anthony Peluso said that they made a point of emphasizing to attendees the importance of sharing ideas with each other, which was an integral part of their Link sessions. According to Peluso, “...the entire purpose of the program is to promote new ideas and facilitate discussion between lodges.” He also suggests that since the Link program can be a lot of material to digest, especially for younger Arrowmen, it’s important to keep your event from growing stagnant. At the Section Leadership Summit, the Train the Trainer course provided a great change of pace from the Link sessions, as did a bowling trip on Saturday night. These methods of open discussions and pace changes lead to the Link presentations being very well received by participants. Of those who didn’t leave with plans to implement new ideas back at home, many said that they will continue to use an innovative approach when looking to improve their lodge.
In the Northeast Region, Section NE-2A has also incorporated Link into a training event with great success. Their event, known as Project LEAP, is an annual training weekend that brings together their lodge leaders for fellowship and idea sharing. It targets key topics like “lodge leadership” and “new Arrowmen.” This year, it also targeted the three Link metrics. What made their implementation successful was that instead of simply presenting a training session, they turned each session into a conversation. According to NE-2A Section Chief John Zanin, the key is trying to tailor Link to each lodge’s needs. They did just that by having the participants discuss their problems and experiences to help develop their own solutions. Taking that concept a step further, the section plans to implement individualized lodge visits. In this program, lodges will be able to select a Link metric that they are struggling with. Shortly thereafter, a section officer will travel to them prepared to lead a session on the metric that’s been tailored to that specific lodge’s needs so that they get the most out of it. Not only does having an officer travel add a personal touch but by tailoring the presentation, they increase its usefulness to the lodge.
With its first year off to a great start, especially in sections like the ones above, the Lodge Performance Group is already gearing up for Link’s second run. Recently, the group decided on the three metrics for the upcoming year. They’ll be unit election rate (returning from last year), induction rate, and a new metric that’s being called “activation rate.” The activation rate is the percentage of new inductees that return for a second lodge event within six months of their Ordeal. When preparing for these new metrics, sections can take a hint from what they have been encouraging their lodges to do: sharing ideas. By looking at successes like those found in Sections SR-7A and NE-2A, sections can make Link’s second year even better than the first.