Lodge Success Stories: Reaching Gold

By Cole Taylor

The Journey to Excellence (JTE) program was created by the Order of the Arrow (OA) a few years ago, and its purpose is to focus on the success and improvement of lodges. In order for my home lodge, Skyuka Lodge, to succeed in JTE, we go through several processes and program additions. One of the most important parts for success is planning and goal setting. As we begin our planning, we review our scores from the previous year to find the areas on which we need improvement. Once we have found the areas that we need to improve on, we begin our goal setting process.

When we plan our goals for JTE, we ensure that we follow the S.M.A.R.T. goal method:  specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. As we set our goals, we consider the best ways to improve those areas and develop a plan to reach the goals we set. Along with planning and setting goals, an effective Lodge Executive Committee (LEC) is crucial to success in JTE.  In order for Skyuka to reach Gold level, we had to have a functioning board. Our treasurer had to make sure that we met our financial-based criteria, while our inductions chief ensured that members completed their Brotherhood conversion; an active youth leadership team plays a major part in the success of the lodge’s JTE.

In addition to following these steps, Skyuka Lodge uses other techniques and methods to get members active and our lodge “hyped” for JTE. One thing that has helped my lodge with its JTE is communication. Keeping lodge members involved with what is happening promotes their attendance and contribution to the lodge. As a way for members to stay informed, we send out regular emails, postcards, social media posts, phone calls and / or any combination thereof to encourage brothers to stay involved. 

Other areas that Skyuka Lodge tends to do extremely well in are service hours, membership and conclave attendance. For service hours, our lodge exercises an “all hands on deck” attitude that encourages all brothers to give service at lodge events and workdays. Another way that Skyuka has advocated for service is having officers and advisors setting the example by taking initiative and organizing and participating in the service projects. For membership, the lodge does well for a number of reasons. When the candidates are called out, they receive numerous phone calls, postcards and emails ensuring they understand the journey waiting upon them. In addition, we keep our social media and website up to date with information that can be easily accessed. If the information does not present itself to the candidates, the chances of them continuing their path in the OA is significantly smaller. 

Lastly, the lodge has a good record of sending many delegates to our section conclave, the Section SR-5 Dixie Fellowship. To promote the conclave, our lodge utilizes spirit. By presenting the Dixie Fellowship as the huge, fun-filled weekend it is, more brothers become interested in attending. In addition to using spirit as a promotional device, we lead cheers and give items at the conclave that continue the spirit and help promote for the attendance at the next year’s fellowship.

Journey to Excellence is a process that requires dedication and commitment. Having an effective youth leadership and the ability to run a quality program are the keys to leading a successful JTE campaign. Best of luck in the journey ahead! 

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