In early February, Section SR-9 held their annual Indian Winter training event and built two distinct programs for lodge leaders and American Indian Activities (AIA) enthusiasts. Led by section chief Patrick Mapp, the section leadership built these programs with Arrowmen in mind, bringing in special guests, holding inclusive seminars and conducting demonstrations to build the leadership, dancing and ceremonial skills of the Southern Heartland.
This year’s event was held at Warner Scout Reservation near Montgomery, AL and offered Arrowmen a hands-on approach to the American Indian traditions of the Order of the Arrow. Indian Winter featured a program that offered both “make and take” training sessions. The classes, taught by experts from throughout Section SR-9 and the Southern Region, covered a wide range of topics including ceremonies, ceremonial regalia, dance, singing and beadwork.
The leadership course aspect incorporated the newly-released Link program. Link focuses on three areas of Journey to Excellence each year. This year, the focus was on membership retention, unit election rate and lodge event attendance. Newly-elected lodge and chapter officers were encouraged to attend so that a meaningful, positive impact on local programs could take root shortly afterwards.
When discussing Indian Winter, Mapp states that, “In 2014, I was elected to the office of section vice chief with a task to create a new innovative event for our section centered around American Indian Activities. This task presented many challenges but with the experience of our advisers and a lot of hard work, this program is now in its third year. Our section has grown in AIA and ceremony participation, and for the first time we offered customized Journey to Excellence classes to focus on local lodge problems. Overall, the event continues to be a success, and I am looking forward to where it goes in the future.”
Mapp goes on to give advice to any other lodge or section leader who is considering an AIA event reflecting, “Be inclusive and make sure to keep the participants involved throughout the weekend.” He also believes that practiced and thorough training sessions provides the attendees with the best experience. The method of bringing expert trainers, instead of younger, novice trainers, excites the youth to attend more trainings and presents exposure so that they can train the next generation of leaders.
The event has developed to be a tremendous tradition for the Arrowmen of Section SR-9 and will continue to assist each lodge’s ceremonial and dance teams as well as their local leadership. The inclusion and the “make and take” style gave the participants a jumpstart in their AIA endeavors and new ideas for their future as leaders.