The first merger of lodges took place in 1924, when Unami Lodge 1 and Unalachtigo Lodge 8, both of the then-Philadelphia Council, merged together. Since then, there have been hundreds of mergers between lodges, with all but only a handful being between two lodges.
At the beginning of this year, Achewon Nimat Lodge, Kaweah Lodge, and Ut-in Selica Lodge made history as the three lodges merged together, forming Yerba Buena Lodge within the Golden Gate Area Council (GGAC). Headquartered in the Bay Area of California, GGAC serves over 19,000 Scouts and 7,000 Scouters in areas such as San Francisco, Napa, and Travis Air Force Base, among others.
To celebrate this momentous occasion, the new lodge held a virtual merger convention on January 23rd, 2021, attracting over 90 Arrowmen. Participants developed new friendships, brainstormed ideas for the coming year, and had the opportunity to elect the inaugural slate of Yerba Buena Lodge officers.
Continuity of lodge operations during mergers is challenging enough during normal times, but the COVID-19 pandemic presented the new lodge officers, many of whom also sat on the merger task force, with a colossal challenge--leading and uniting three distinct lodges through a period of monumental change, all while socially distanced.
Some of these pandemic-specific challenges included transitioning all programs and events to virtual settings, keeping youth engaged and preventing the dreaded “Zoom burn-out”, and recruiting and retaining adult volunteers. To overcome these challenges, Yerba Buena utilized Zoom and other forms of digital communications to stay connected with each other, as well as giving each youth a small task to take on as a way of keeping them engaged.
Looking forward, Vice Chief of Inductions Chase VanDerveer, along with Lodge Chief Aditya Sriram and the rest of his fellow officers, aims to increase the representation of Venturers and Sea Scouts in the lodge, receive a Thriving Performance Measurement Program rating in 2022, equip each member with the tools and confidence to one day take on leadership positions of their own, and ultimately, for every member to feel as if they are in true brotherhood, opposed to just another after-school club.