Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Of Leadership and Ham

Spring time comes with lots of connotations. Some say it's the time for love, others the time for rebirth, and still others the time for Easter Eggs! In PA DeMolay, spring is marked most (un)usually by Spring Leadership Weekend. What is Spring Leadership Weekend? Well, you've probably heard it called lots of other names... Superhero School, Call to Duty, Clue, and others, but around the PA DeMolay office we call it Spring Leadership Weekend to keep our heads straight!

So just where did this tradition come from, and what exactly is it? Well, jump in your Hot Tub Time Machine and take a trip back with me to the heady days of 2002! "Dad" Labagh had been EO for only about 2 years now, "Dad" Brent Richards was holding down the fort as the webmaster, "Dad" Anthony had only been a member for about 4 months, and "Dad" Marvin A. Cunningham had just been installed as Right Worshipful Grand Master. Things were looking up for PA DeMolay, and the folks here at the office were looking for something new, invigorating, and fun to add to the DeMolay calendar. After a storm of thinking, "Dad" Brent Richards had an idea (not to mention a much fuller head of hair!) What if the adults of PA DeMolay provided a weekend-long leadership conference that played on their talents for acting and general hamming it up? Brilliant! So the planning began...

Back in the 1980's the board game CLUE was very popular. Not only did it sell lots of copies, it also had a movie made about it starring Tim Curry. If you haven't seen it, it's a comedy classic that you should definitely check out. Anywho, back to the story... the planning team had this idea that advisors would wear costumes and pretend to be the characters from CLUE, all the while the members would attend workshops, gathering clues to find out who murdered "Mr. Body." The best part was that even the characters didn't know who had done it, so it was a suprise to everyone at the end of the day! Having attended that event as a DeMolay, I can honestly say that it was one of the most enjoyable DeMolay experiences I ever had. PA DeMolay had a hit on it's hands, and the time was ripe for more of these kinds of shenanigans.

The Original Cast of CLUE!
(Pictured above: (Seated) "Mom" Kathy Prazenica as Miss Scarlet, "Dad" Allen Moyer as Professor Plum, (Standing) "Mom" Yolanda Weider as Mrs. White, "Mom" Donna Brown as Mrs. Peacock, "Dad" Ray Gottschall as Colonel Mustard, "Dad" Jim Ray as Mr. Green, "Dad" Brent Richards as the Butler.

Flash forward a year, the flowers were once again blossoming, and "Dad" Richards was hard at work planning a follow up event. CLUE was so popular that he didn't want to stray too far away from the idea. So, his brain hatched up CLUE 2 for Spring Leadership Weekend 2003. This time around the characters would be medieval, but the premise would remain much the same. With another round of advisors willing to make fools of themselves, costumes were once again created, and CLUE 2 was a smash hit! From pompous Chancellors, to angry Queens, and twisted Bishops, it was a fantastic time! A tradition had now been started in PA DeMolay, and ideas were churning for future events.

The Cast of CLUE 2!
(Pictured from left to right: "Dad" Dave Berry as the Bishop, "Dad" Brent Richards as the Jester, "Mom" Missy Smith as Princess White, "Dad" Ray Gottschall as the King, "Mom" Jan Harms as the Queen, "Mom" Mary Knapp as Lady Scarlet, "Dad" Rick Freedman as the Knight, and "Dad" Allen Moyer as the Chancellor.)

In July of 2003 Bro. Steve Prazenica was elected State Master Councilor, and began planning his year and membership campaigns. The fall would be a superhero theme (sound familiar?) called Clash of Titans. The spring membership campaign was still up in the air, though. After some conversations with his other Elected State Officers, it was decided that pirates would be a great theme as several pirate related movies had just come out. But how to do it? Signal the advisors, because this began "Membership Mutiny!"

After some preliminary planning it was decided that members and advisors would be encouraged to dress as pirates and make "raids" on Chapters. During these raids the State Officers and EO's Leadership Team would drop in, give the Chapter a treasure chest filled with membership ideas and goodies, and encourage the Chapter to participate in the campaign. What a campaign it turned out to be! With Spring Leadership Weekend right around the corner it was only natural that the pirates would be there to spice things up. There wasn't a mystery to be solved, but a certain well groomed advisor did end up walking the plank at the Patton Pool (here's to you "Dad" Freedman!) The tradition of a crazy conference was once again complete, and lots of great memories were certainly created during that year!

The globe continues spinning however, and soon it was the spring of 2005. Bro. Justin Killian had ascended to the office of State Master Councilor, and it was once again time to plan Spring Leadership Weekend. Bro. Killian and his crew had come up with a military based theme, working around the idea of a game of Risk (again, sound familiar?) The program was called "Risk It!" and once again it was time for some folks to make fools of themselves. The State Officers took up the flag this time though, but "Dad" Ray Gottschall was there to lend his support as "General Arthur McPatton." This time the attendees of Spring Leadership Weekend gained points and territories to try to prove their portion of the State was the best. While this program wasn't quite as entertaining as the others had been, it was still a success. It did however mark a temporary end to advisors putting on costumes and acting strange.

From 2006 to 2008 the program continued, but it slowly moved from silly to serious. There were still themes, like Bro. Jake Palo's "Spring Break," but the program was morphing into something different than what had made it popular in the first place.

This brings us to 2009, and "Call to Duty" weekend. I had been on staff with PA DeMolay for about 6 months at that point, and I thought it was a fine time to bring back of the outrageousness of previous events. I drafted my "go-to" guys, "Dad's" Richards, Gottschall, Moyer, and Freedman, who were all veterans of earlier conferences. This time they would be taking up the mantle of crazy foreign diplomats in an effort to prove that their home country was not responsible for a downed spy plane found on Patton Campus. At the end of the day it was determined that the French were guilty (I didn't even think they had planes!) and the French diplomat was led away. Spring Leadership Weekend was back, and everyone in attendance had a fantastic time!

The Cast of Call to Duty!
(Pictured above, from left to right: "Dad" Brent Richards as Dan Washington, "Dad" Allen Moyer as Jean Teallouetta, "Dad" Rick Freedman as James Blonde, and "Dad" Ray Gottschall as Comrade Badanov.)

So here it is, 2010, and we're coming up on "Superhero School," our latest in the Spring Leadership Weekend series of events. Some old favorites are back, including "Dad's" Freedman and Gottschall, and some new advisors are also participating in the fun. Have you checked out the "Rogues Gallery" over on pademolay.org yet? If not, you better go see who the crazy characters are for this year's event... it is sure to go down in history as another fun-filled Spring Leadership Weekend!

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

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