Each and every Arrowman at some point in their Scouting career wishes to leave a legacy within our Order, wishes to make their voice known, and wishes to make a positive, lasting impact for generations to come. Each has a great idea waiting to be implemented into our organization, however, many go unheard. This past January, Section NE-5 leadership recognized this invaluable opportunity to obtain perspective, and coordinated a leadership conference to foster a positive environment for their lodges to exchange best practices.
Section chief Jeremy Bedient explained, “... every good idea has been had by someone - not too many have not yet been said.” This idea, in tandem with the observation that all too often there are few supplemented trainings second to those hosted at conclaves, served as the inspiration behind the Leadership Conference. Section NE-5 recognized that they were missing out on opportunities to train lodge officers so as to better serve Arrowmen. With the assistance of section officers and associate advisers, along with coordination with lodge leadership, the section organized an event to introduce what it means to be a high performing lodge that supports its chapters, council, and youth. The event garnered support from nearly all 11 lodges within the section and witnessed an attendance of around 90 strong - roughly 8 to 10 from each lodge’s leadership team. The conference was open to any and all prospective leaders but emphasized attendance from lodge chiefs and chapter chiefs The objectives were simple: introduce the high performing lodge (HPL) concept, assist with the understanding and implementation of HPL in their own councils, and encourage discussion of best practices among lodges.
Of course, every lodge is unique and not every solution is applicable to each individual scenario. As nearly all present had prior leadership experience, the coordinators opted to host intentional discussions which created a more intimate environment. Through the personalized agenda of the conference, leaders had the opportunity to explore each lodge as an individual rather than attempt to force solutions for the entirety of the section. Participants were randomly grouped to encourage diverse perspectives, opinions, and ideas. The event hosted several sessions with topics ranging from specific roles in the organization (advisers, lodge chiefs, chapter chiefs, etc.), how to lead the change, lodge breakouts, High Performing Lodge discussions, and debriefs focused upon implementation.
Overall, the event proved to be highly successful. As reported by Jeremy, the lodges within Section NE-5 recorded significant achievement in reaching their election and induction goals. Additionally, all lodges with members present reported an increase in activation rates, significantly improving the lodge membership. Most importantly, the event served as a catalyst for improved relations and communication among the lodges.
To sections interested in adopting this same forum blueprint, Jeremy had the following advice: First, timing is everything. The conference was hosted just before election season so that lodges may have the opportunity to implement the ideas gained as well as plan out their upcoming schedule. Second, use this as an opportunity to get to know each and every lodge chief. The leadership conference is a prime opportunity for lodge leaders to understand how they impact their home lodges. Lastly, and most importantly, remember your audience. Emphasize on lodge officers and advisers, as these two are best able to implement change in the program and understand the needs of their Arrowmen.
Jeremy hopes that all sections will adopt some sort of training conference to prepare the future leaders of tomorrow. Furthermore, he encourages sections to “take the time to develop lodge leaders now more than ever before!” section events are more accessible to Arrowmen while still maintaining high quality trainings unavailable otherwise. Leadership Conferences prove to be invaluable in developing solutions and assisting in the cultivation of youth as they continue to become active agents for change. Congratulations to Section NE-5, on a successful and productive conference!