This summer at NEXT: A New Century, the OA placed emphasis on innovation. The world we live in is constantly changing and the OA must constantly adapt in order to continue to grow and spread our message of cheerful service. To fuel a spirit of innovation, lodges were invited to submit ideas for a competition prior to NEXT. This competition, known as the NEXT Factor, was a highlight of the event. Those who won the competition walked away with prizes and pride for their lodges.
All lodges were given the opportunity to submit a video highlighting their innovative idea. Just about anything was fair game. Following the video submission, each region chief selected two lodges that were to meet at NEXT to compete against one another for the chance to win a 500 dollar check toward the implementation of their idea.
At NEXT, the eight lodges selected by the region chiefs, presented in two groups. Each lodge’s representative showed their video and was asked questions about their idea in front of a live audience of NEXT delegates. The winner of each group was decided through a poll of audience members after all lodges had finished presenting. As soon as polling concluded, the winning lodges were presented their check and left as champions of the NEXT Factor. But what were these winning ideas?
Sunday’s winner was Wapashuwi Lodge from the Greater Western Reserve Council. Their idea was to create digital membership cards. Unlike physical membership cards that could easily get lost, these were sent directly to members via email. It streamlined the process of keeping members in the lodge, as members typically received their digital cards only 24-36 hours after paying dues.
Monday’s champion was Ajapeu Lodge from the Washington Crossing Council. They thought of having Ordeal candidates eat dinner with their parents before starting the Ordeal. In doing so, the whole family will be able to appreciate the OA program and the Scout will be more likely to return to lodge functions after his Ordeal.
The NEXT Factor events of Sunday and Monday proved to be such a hit at NEXT that a third round was conducted at the closing gathering. This time though, instead of lodges, NEXT crews would be competing against each other. Delegates who had known each other for not even a week were challenged to create an innovative idea to bring back home after the conference had concluded. Here, the stakes were higher as all NEXT delegates and staff voted on the winner. Crew 27, represented by Wyatt E. from O-Shot-Caw Lodge, came out on top with their idea of a “Sash and Bash,” an event designed for new Ordeal members to bond with more experienced brothers at lodge functions after they complete their Ordeal and go through the ceremony.
As Scouts, we are naturally resourceful and competitive. The NEXT Factor turned these traits into a driving force behind the Order of the Arrow’s progress into its second century. Look out for these winning ideas, because innovation like this is what’s next for the OA.