A properly focused and applied conclave message and conclave theme will deliver an impactful experience to all participants. When hosting a Conclave, how you utilize a conclave message and conclave theme will define the success of the event. Conclave messages have a great importance and impact and inspire the Arrowmen around a central cause or goal. Conclave themes can elevate the fun, engage participants, and can define the memory of the event. Used together, a message and theme can be very powerful tools in making your conclave a hit. However, where most fall short, is a lack of understanding of the two and can lead to a lack of development of either or both the message and theme. Therefore, in order to effectively utilize both the conclave message and theme, it’s important that both you and your team understand each one and its role.
The Message | Important, Purposeful, Motivating
The conclave message, first and foremost, presents the opportunity to impact and inspire Arrowmen. In order to take full advantage of this opportunity, a fully developed conclave message contains 3 vital elements:
1. The conclave message is presented as a call to action.
A conclave message should inspire Arrowmen to act. Without a call to action, Arrowmen will begin to question the purpose of the message. The message should be a request or challenge, not commentary or information. Challenges inspire. Lectures do not.
2. The conclave message is relevant to all.
The purpose of a conclave message is to impact, but it will be difficult to impact those whom the message does not apply to. For example, if your message is about youth leading change, the message will be relevant to all youth Arrowmen, but it will not resonate with all adult Arrowmen. This isolates that group instead of impacting and inspiring them to participate in your purpose. The above message could be broadened to leading or impacting change and present opportunities for both youth and adults to impact change.
3. The conclave message is easily understood, clear, and concise.
If participants spend more time trying to decipher the message, that allows less time for them to get inspired by the message. It is for this reason that a message should be easily understood and provide one unambiguous meaning.
It is important to note, developing the message first is essential. The conclave message ultimately comes from the purpose and goal of the event, and because of this it is the more important of the two. Developing the theme first, can lead to molding the message around the theme, which can lead to a distancing from your original goals and purpose.
At this point, you’ve now defined your event’s purpose, your definition of success, and developed the core of your conclave message. Once the core of the message has been developed, the theme can be chosen.
After defining the purpose and phrasing of a conclave message, the next step is effective integration. Without effective integration and delivery of a conclave message, the quality of the message of itself will not matter. In order to effectively integrate and develop, the following steps should be followed:
1. Integrate Mindfully
Including the message in the program just to include it will NOT effectively deliver your message. Every time the message is integrated into the conclave program, it should be considered why the message is being delivered through that specific aspect of the program. For example, if after each activity a participant is presented with a messaging piece, the message will lose its meaning in the reciprocation. The message should be integrated mindfully and when a participant is able to present their full attention on it. Allow opportunities, like keynotes and group discussions, where participants can put their focus on the message, even if they aren’t explicitly aware that are what they are doing. Continual repetition of the message, by itself, will not help you deliver the conclave message.
2. Integrate the message with the weekend program
If the conclave message is only presented at one time (e.g. during the evening or closing show) it allows the message to be an isolated incident. By presenting the conclave message or rather aspects of the message over a longer period of time (e.g. Friday evening through Sunday morning) the message is more likely to leave a larger imprint on each Arrowman. In fact, presenting the message prior to the event, such as a thought-provoking question in an email or social media post, or after the event, through a follow up email or a post-conclave chapter led program, will leave the Arrowmen more impacted. This does necessarily mean the depth of the message and the call to action should be continuously presented. Save the call to action reveal for at conclave and then the call to action can be readdressed after the event. Larger time frame equals larger impact.
3. Participants should depart conclave with the message on their minds.
Although the climax of the message delivery may occur at different times (Saturday Afternoon/Evening or Sunday Morning) it is important that all participants leave with a call to action on their mind. A night of sleep after a tiresome day is a fantastic opportunity for participants to forget about the call to action, therefore not presenting the conclave message during pre-departure program undermines the message.
This document will provide examples of when and how to integrate and deliver the theme in meaningful, impactful ways.
The Theme | Fun, Engaging, Memorable
If conclave was a pancake, and the message was the batter, full of meaning and purpose, then the theme would be sprinkles, chocolate chips, bananas, syrup, and whipped cream that you add. While the conclave message is the important inspiration and the opportunity to impact change, the conclave theme is the flavor of the event. It is your opportunity to get creative.
Go crazy, throw on some chocolate AND strawberry syrup, maybe even a cherry on top. The batter of conclave will sustain the Arrowmen, and reenergize them around a challenge, but what you throw on the pancake is what will keep them coming back to get more and more pancakes. A conclave theme should be fun, it should be engaging, it should be memorable, and even goofy at times. It has the potential to be the part of the event that defines how a participant remembers conclave.
When selecting a conclave theme, keep the following in mind:
1. A conclave theme should be fun
Remember, this is the FLAVOR of the event. Just as nobody wants peas in their pancakes, nobody wants a to go to a conclave where the theme is high school. Poll your membership and select something that will interest them. Don’t be afraid to stray from realism to generate a theme. Maybe the best theme for your membership is a Rainbow Unicorn Apocalypse. Go with it. Sounds like a pancake I would want to try!
2. A conclave theme should be engaging.
Along with being fun, a conclave theme should provide each member with the opportunity to engage with the theme. This means don’t select a hyper-specific theme (e.g. Dungeons and Dragons, Magic, Pokémon) that only engages some Arrowmen. Do your best to select a theme that can be relevant and enticing to all participants.
3. Be wary of real-world plots
Conclave themes based off real books or movies, not only provide legal limitations, but can be more detrimental by limiting the creative process. Try choosing a broader theme that allows more creativity, then selecting one that has a pre-written plot (e.g. Space Exploration vs. Star Wars/Star Trek).
4. A conclave theme is NOT dependent on the conclave message
The conclave message and the conclave theme are two independent aspects that have some overlap, but they are fundamentally different. The conclave message has a focus on purpose. A conclave theme has a focus on providing a fun experience. Not drawing a distinction between the two, can develop into a lack of clarity perceived by the participants. This means you lose the purpose of both the theme and message.
Once a conclave theme has been chosen, then the fun begins, integrating the theme. The best piece of advice for integrating your theme, is as follows:
Don’t let your conclave be a conclave.
One of the sections in the nation decided that their conclave theme was going to be space exploration, that’s when our conclave planning stopped. From that point forward, they began planning a voyage across the universe. They didn’t have Arrowmen attending, they had Arrownauts. The goal wasn’t theme integration, it was total theme immersion. A conclave theme shouldn’t be thought of as an aspect of the event, but rather an experience you are taking each participant through.
An excellent example of a theme immersion experience is an escape room. Participants pay not just to solve puzzles, but to be immersed in a scenario where they are escaping a dungeon or solving a crime. Making your conclave a completely theme immersive event adds a powerful flare to participant’s perception of the event. Additionally, getting your conclave leadership excited about the themed experience, both during the planning and on-site, can keep planning fun and translate into more on-site theme engagement.
The following is a list of 8 ways you can further immerse your theme:
- Change position titles (e.g. Arrownauts/Arrowmen)
- Change activity names (e.g. Spaceball/Kickball)
- Change activity locations (not a lodge’s camp site, but Arrownaut Quarters)
- Have themed cracker-barrels
- Play themed music
- Use theme graphics and fonts in your promotions
- Center all shows around your theme
- Use theme-based costuming for the officers, guests, and Council of Chiefs members
To optimize your section’s ability to incorporate the theme, consider appointing someone to ensure that each program element has a component of the theme.
The following section is a library of different programs you can use to prepare for and execute your conclave. Some of them may need to be initiated or taken care of ahead of the conclave, while others can be handled at the event. Additionally, some may need to be approved by your council of chiefs, such as the budget.