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The Secret Ingredient to an Active Lodge? Youth Orders.
There’s a secret ingredient available to California lodges that can inject a sense of purpose, energy, and liveliness to even the most listless lodge cultures. Jamie Barr has seen it happen.
When Barr first associated with Newport-Mesa Lodge No. 604 in 2009, he sensed a lack of direction. As the product of Masonic youth orders, he remembered the sense of community and dynamism that came with having a large Masonic family under one roof. So he set out to rekindle those relationships. And in the process, the lodge was able to rediscover its purpose.
As the fraternity prepares for Masonic Youth Orders Month this March—and this spring’s milestone 100th anniversary of Job’s Daughters—Newport-Mesa’s turnaround underscores how important and impactful a meaningful relationship with the youth orders can be.
An Energy Upgrade
“The best part of participating in a Masonic youth order,” Barr recalls, “was the sense of being part of a larger family.” Growing up, Barr had been involved in the Order of DeMolay; his lodge shared space with both a Job’s Daughter Bethel and a chapter of the Rainbow for Girls Assembly. So when he joined the Newport-Mesa Lodge, he and a half-dozen other members set out to reorganize a long-since-defunct chapter of DeMolay. Three years later, a Job’s Daughters Bethel set up shop alongside it. The effect on the lodge was significant.
“For one, our members just smiled more often,” Barr says. “The young people’s enthusiasm was contagious and their leadership was inspiring.” Between six and eight Masons participate on the youth orders’ advisory board, but the entire lodge has gotten behind the partnership and looks forward to the pancake breakfasts, fundraising car washes, and other events the youth orders put on. That support, in turn, has helped increase lodge participation and member engagement—a happy side effect of the sudden infusion of youthful energy into lodge life.
It’s also given the Masons unprecedented access to their broader community. A few years back, when the lodge sought to reinstate an annual teacher appreciation program, it was its affiliation with Job’s Daughters that helped open up relationships with the local school district. Today, the lodge shares a table at back to school nights and open houses with the youth orders. “We’ve attended dozens of events at our local schools—something we never would have been able to do without our youth orders,” Barr says.
Ultimately, though, the increased member engagement and access to the community are just fringe benefits of working with a youth order like Job’s Daughters, he says. “Those things are perks. The real reason Masons should encourage these youth orders is because it is our responsibility to build a better future. What better way to do that than by passing on our core values to the next generation?”
Tips for Working with Youth Orders
March is Youth Orders Month, the perfect opportunity to establish a relationship with a local youth order near you. While it may feel daunting to seek out and launch a new partnership, the fact is that youth orders are more than eager for any help a lodge can offer. “They will do anything in their power to make the process as easy as possible,” Barr says. Here are 10 ways you can establish and maintain a relationship to a local youth order.
- Show up: Being present at youth order meetings and events demonstrates that you are interested in and supportive of Masonic youth.
- Become an adult leader: Offer to help lead a youth order in your area, and share your expertise with the next generation of Masonic family members.
- Invite youth to lodge events: Whether it’s stated meeting dinners, cookouts, or ice cream socials, let the youth orders know they’re welcome. This gives them a chance to connect with the lodge and members’ families in a relaxed, social environment.
- Involve youth in a philanthropic project: Whether your lodge is hosting a clothing drive, manning a booth at a community event, or volunteering at a local hospital, involve Masonic youth to build relationships and strengthen your impact.
- Start a local chapter, bethel, or assembly: If your area isn’t already served by a youth order, consider starting your own chapter, bethel, or assembly to help give local youth a chance to access Masonic fellowship and leadership development opportunities.
- Partner with another lodge: If your lodge doesn’t have the resources to support a youth order on its own, partner with another one to combine resources.
- Create scholarships for Masonic youth: Recognize Masonic youth for academic achievements with a scholarship that can be used to pay for higher education. The California Masonic Foundation also hands out several Masonic youth scholarships—help direct your local chapter members toward them and help them apply for these generous gifts.
- Hold an essay contest: Ask youth to participate in an essay contest. Themes like “How do Masonic values apply today?” or “Why does civility matter?” work well. Ask the top three winners to present their paper at the lodge.
- Invite youth on lodge outings: The next time your lodge plans to visit another local lodge or jurisdiction, invite Masonic youth and youth leaders to participate in your event to help bring the connections to another generation.
- Involve youth in outreach efforts: Masonic youth can offer special value to outreach visits. View a guide for involving Masonic youth in outreach.
To get started, contact Grand Lodge Real Estate Services at (415) 292-9111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your February Checklist
Stay on track of lodge business and prepare for important deadlines. Here’s your February checklist.
- Schedule inspector’s official visit and examination of the books, due by end of March.
- Register for 2020 leadership retreats.
- Share with your lodge the date and topic for the UCLA International Conference on Freemasonry.
- Plan to include retreat fees in upcoming budget discussions.
- Review all candidates’ progress toward advancement.
- Register for the Hall Association boot camp at the 2020 Secretary & Treasurer retreats.
- Begin preparing 2021 program plan.
- Begin preparing 2021 budget.
- Begin preparing 2021 officer appointments.
- Begin preparing 2021 installation of officers.
- Present secretary’s annual report to the lodge at stated meeting.
- Continue to collect delinquent dues from members (were due on January 1).
- Send list of members with late dues to the master for the Retention Committee.
- Send any suspension notices.
- Charity Committee considers remissions.
- Present treasurer’s annual report to the lodge at stated meeting.
- Prepare financial reports for Grand Lodge, to be filed by end of March (unless your lodge uses Intacct, in which case you do not need to submit anything).
- Submit semi-annual report to the lodge at stated meeting.
- Begin auditing lodge books, to be completed by end of April.
Questions? Contact Member Services at email@example.com or (415) 776-7000.
For Your Trestleboard
Registration for the UCLA International Conference on Freemasonry is now open! Make sure your members don’t miss it. Also, check out Masonic Gold, the beautiful new coffee table book on the history and development of 20 Gold Country lodges, available for purchase online. Download this ad for the UCLA conference and the Gold Country book.
Find it on Freemason.org
The Masons of California have a long history of mutual support—the cornerstone of which are our Masonic Homes campuses. Go to the website for Masonic Homes to learn about things like:
- The Lodge Outreach Program, a partnership that connects volunteer Masons in each division with MOS staff to provide tools and training for member outreach.
- Access a variety of online education and resource materials that you can use to inform yourself and share with your lodge.
- Contact Masonic Assistance to request help for a member in need, professional advice, in-person training, or a presentation at your lodge.
- Plan a lodge visit to the Masonic Homes by hosting a degree at one of our on-campus lodges or the outdoor degree site in Union City.
Question of the Month
Last month we asked how your lodge supported public schools month. Of those that responded:
- 59% - Donate to the California Masonic Foundation and Raising a Reader
- 32% - Through scholarships for local students
- 27% - Through hosting an event at a public school
- 23% - Through raising money for your local school
- 9% - Other