How the program fits in the lodge structure
The new OA Troop/Team Representative program will be a great benefit to troops, teams, and your lodge if used correctly. It can strengthen the unit, increase attendance at lodge events, and aid in camp promotions or service opportunities. Remember, your OA Troop/Team Representatives are depending on the lodge to give them the support that they need! The following are examples of how different lodges may implement the program. It is expected that the OA Troop/Team Representative would be an active participant at Lodge and Chapter meetings.
Mega-Lodge (Chapter based)
The Chapter Chief should appoint a Troop/Team Representative Chairman to the Chapter Executive Committee. He would serve under the Vice Chief most applicable to the program (such as, Vice Chief of Promotions, Vice Chief of Program, etc.) Since your lodge and chapters are large, one chairman could not field all of the OA Representatives. The Chairman should have a set number of Liaisons underneath him. An Arrowman should only coordinate with five to seven OA Representatives. This will keep him from being overwhelmed. The fewer Scouts with which he must coordinate, the better he will do!
It will also be important for the Lodge Chief to appoint a chairman on the lodge level who will serve on the Lodge Executive Committee under the Lodge Vice Chief most applicable to the program. He will be in charge of coordinating with the camp promotions chairman, activities chairman, publications chairman and others to make sure that the OA Representatives receive the most current, up-to-date information on what they should be doing in their home troops and teams. The OA Representative will be responsible for bringing to the chapter, troop or team requests for information and support for their programs. This information exchange should take place in monthly or bimonthly "meetings". This will keep the OA Representative informed about his responsibilities and will make him feel important - ensuring that he will take pride in his work. This Lodge Chairman should also coordinate with the Chapter Troop/Team Representative Chairmen to make sure that the program is still healthy and that the handouts are effective.
Small Lodge Structure (No Chapters)
The OA Troop/Team Representative Program in a smaller lodge should be run similarly. There will still be a need for a chairman to run the program, and a need for the liaisons. A small lodge, however, may find that they may be more dependent upon the liaisons since there may be fewer leaders above them to assist them with their jobs. Special care should be taken to ensure that the liaisons are informed and effective. Because the Lodge Troop/Team Representative Chairman himself will be coordinating the program, he may not have time to make the handouts. A new position may be needed to make and distribute the handouts.
The Chairman should keep an updated roster of the OA Representatives in each troop since they will be coming in to and going out of office at different intervals. The lodge should mail out OA Troop/Team Representative Registration Forms to all of the units at the beginning of each year. It might be a good idea to make a short installation ceremony for the new OA Representatives that could be performed at Chapter or Lodge Meetings. The Chairman should conduct OA Troop/Team Representative Training Seminars at least twice a year for the newly appointed OA Representatives.
There is one important word of caution for a lodge when it begins to use this program; many times the OA Representatives will (and should!) be used as a calling committee to promote events and service projects. However, this means information must flow from the Lodge or Chapter Chief to the Vice Chief and then to Chairman and on down the ladder. It is mandatory that you do not play the telephone game! Have all levels of the calling committee take notes so that the OA Representatives can tell their troop accurate information!
It is important to remember that the ultimate success of this program is dependent upon the OA Troop/Team Representative being a two-way communication link between the lodge/chapter and the troop/team. Not only does information need to flow from the lodge to the unit, but also information on the needs of the unit must flow to the lodge. The lodge or chapter must be responsive to the needs of the troop or team.
The key to running this program successfully is simple: keep all Troop/Team Representatives informed and make them feel that they are needed and crucial aspects of lodge administration. As soon as your lodge has this program in place, you will immediately reap the benefits in the form of more capable leaders, and increased attendance at lodge events.