Friday, July 29, 2011

Rock Out with DeMolay!

Brother Howie Damron’s first Webcast
      Sunday 9:00pm at
“Music is the use of pleasing notes and harmonies, and is that simple and effectual method often made use of to give expression to the deepest and noblest sentiments of the heart and soul. Its language is universal. The bird sings its notes of joy and praise. The wind sighs through the forest and mountains. The water moans its eternal requiem upon the sea, while man, by power of music, may touch the most tender chords of human existence”.
When I heard this during my FC it was like a magnet that kept returning to me time after time. I knew there was something that I had to offer Freemasonry somehow. I searched and pondered for years while traveling as a Nashville Entertainer across America and Canada wondering what it was. When the song “The Masonic Ring” came into my head to write and I heard the response from those who it deeply touched, it was then that I knew my Masonic Music calling.
Although I’ve spent a lifetime standing in front of live audiences, I’m preparing to do my very first Live Webcast performance this Sunday Evening at 9:00pm at .
My friends it’s never been about fame or fortune for me and it’s always been about reaching out the positive messages found only in Freemasonry. We need a major Masonic Revival and one that shows the Pride we have for being a Mason. This has proven and shown to be the answer for young men to be drawn to Freemasonry. The Webcast will be from my home studio in the hills of southern Ohio. I’ve been asked by Brethren if they could come and watch and they will be there including my Dad “Jimmy Dale Damron” who has been my Masonic mentor from day one. The room I’ll be broadcasting from is magical because it’s the old writing room of the late great “Johnny Paycheck”. Many big name country Artists has been in the room over the years. I have lots I want to share as well as singing the songs from my new album “My Masonic Legacy”. I’ve had July 31 projected as the release date of the album in which has been an eight year project that I refused to release until it was perfected. I’m asking each and every one of you to join me Sunday evening for the show and if you detect me being a little nervous then know I've never done this before so I top can’t wait to see how it turns out.
Let’s all pull together as one team one voice and make old Hiram PROUD. I want to hear from each of you after the show. I leave you with this for now.
“I’ve never been afraid of failure because I’ve failed many times in this life but what I do fear is losing my will to try”.
Brother Howie Damron

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Convention 2011 Survey Results

Being the Director of Convention may seem like an easy or a fun job. On some levels, it is! I wouldn’t do the job if I didn’t get some enjoyment out of it. However, there are many times that being Director isn’t fun at all. One of those times is when we ask for the yearly survey after Convention. It can be tough to take honest criticism, but I sincerely believe that it makes for a better Convention program. So, as I have done in the past, I am endeavoring to be as open and honest about the Convention program as I can be. I felt like this year’s Convention went pretty well. It appears that many of you felt it was okay, but there were some problems that I wasn’t aware. Let’s review!

We’ve gotten 42 surveys returned so far this year. Twelve of these were from Active DeMolays, 29 from adults, and one other (probably a Sweetheart.) This accounts for roughly one quarter of our attendees. As with last year, I asked the attendees to rate the different parts of the event on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being “terrible” and 5 being “outstanding.” In my eyes, a score of a 3 is average. I would like to be above a 3, but I am willing to accept a 3 as decent score. Let’s start by looking at the graph.

What do I conclude out of this graph? Looking at the first number, I immediately think we had an average Convention. This bar corresponds to the question “How would you rate your overall Convention experience?” The average was just under  3.75 out of 5. That tells me that overall we did a decent job. There is still room for improvement, but people were mostly happy. The other score that I will draw your attention to is the last one on the chart, labeled “Composite.” The Composite score takes the scores given in all of the other categories and averages them for each person. In this case, the Composite score was just 3.36. I put more faith in the composite score than I do in the Overall score. Why? People are generally more forgiving of the event as a whole. It’s easier to rate individual things poorly than the entire event. This helps provide insight as to how honest people were about their scores (meaning did they pad the first score a little bit so it didn’t seem like they hated the event, or did they rate the whole event low based on only one bad experience?) This year, I see that the scores are much closer, being only a third of a point apart. That tells me that respondents were pretty fair with the scores. The "Composite" average also gives me a baseline to work from when deciding if a particular event was scored above or below average.

The first event score, Paintball, was a disappointment to me. At a 2.85 (which is only slightly up from last year) I am seriously considering cutting paintball from the Convention program. The trouble we seem to run into is that attendees expect a world class field on a back yard budget. We just can’t seem to make it work. I’m going to try to find a viable option for the future, but I anticipate paintball disappearing from the program.

The Picnic received 3.75 out of 5. That’s a decent score in my book. The biggest issue was the lack of communication on my part as to how the coupons could be redeemed and where. I will take full responsibility for that. I should have prepared an information sheet for the attendees so that everyone knew exactly where to go. We all live and learn, and I now know this for next time. This is the kind of constructive feedback I, and the Convention staff, need.

H2Oooooh! scored a 3.88 out of 5. That’s above average for the event and a good score overall. I heard mostly positive comments on this event. It’s a win / win for us as Convention planners, as it is indoors. I’m always in favor of rain proof events. It seems that everyone enjoyed the facility and the price was right. This kind of amusement park will definitely be on my list for the future. The biggest issue I saw related to this was the bussing. Many people weren’t willing to wait for the shuttle rotation, or didn’t want to ride on a school bus. To pull back the curtain a little bit, the minute we decide to go away from the hotel and provide group transportation, our costs sky rocket. The shuttle system costs around $400. If we were to have had 3 buses do one trip, it would have cost nearly $1500. That’s a huge price difference! This is why I asked the transportation question as part of the survey. 35 respondents said they would be willing to drive less than 10 miles, while only 7 said they wouldn’t. This tells me that if I can find some quality, local facility, I can save money on transportation and give a better experience at the event. That will be my plan from now on.

The food earned a score of 2.95. This is below average for the event along with being slightly below average in general. I didn’t hear any complaints about the food at Convention, so this was a surprise. I encourage all Convention attendees to please let me know about issues so I can address them at the event instead of learning about it later. I didn’t realize that folks were so dissatisfied with the food selection. The key thing to keep in mind is that banquet food is banquet food. It’s tough to do anything fancy or out of the box when feeding 200 people at once. We’ll try to work on this in the future, but I’m puzzled as to what to try.

The workshop by Capt. Richwine was our lowest scoring event, garnering a 2.32. It doesn’t help that Mr. Richwine was late to the event, but I heard that he was also very dry, and spent too much time on historical information. This is the gamble we take when we ask for a person from the outside to come speak. You never quite know what you are going to get. It’s very difficult to find a speaker who will appeal to everyone present and that is applicable across Pennsylvania. We were also in a tough part of the State to find speakers this year. I have some thoughts for next year’s speaker, which I think everyone will enjoy.

Last, but not least, are the degrees, luncheon, and the business session. This rating is more about the pace of the event and how we handle the distribution of awards. A score of 3.81 here tells me that we have found a good mix of meals, presentations, and awards. People seem to feel that everything flowed smooth and didn’t take more time than necessary. The electronic balloting system certainly helps with this. I intend to keep this portion of the program very similar in coming years.

Whew! That was a ton of information! We’re not quite through yet, though! We continue to debate the purpose of Convention (both inside and outside the PA DeMolay office.) As I said last year, there are generally two schools of thought. The first school believes that Convention should be focused on the election, learning more about DeMolay, and doing more fraternal things, like Induction ceremonies and such. The other view is that Convention should generally be a fun event, with the elections and other stuff thrown in for good measure.

I still personally believe more in the second theory. We, as a jurisdiction, do very little that is purely fun. Sports tournaments are competitive, and Spring Leadership Weekend is for learning, but Convention is the only pure "fun" weekend we have, and I'm okay with that. I'm not opposed to adding in educational events, but I don't want to see that be the main component of the event. I also don't think it's a place for guys just to get together and "hang out." This is often referred to as "fellowship" time. However, I've learned that having this kind of time is a bad idea. I don't like having guys running around a hotel with nothing specific to do, as this often leads to behavior issues and damages, which we certainly don't want. I will add that the young men proved very well behaved this year. I was incredibly happy that we didn’t lose one room key either! When we have had the plastic room keys, it seems that we are replacing one an hour. This year, when there was a penalty for a lost key, everyone kept track of theirs. Isn’t it funny how that works?

As ever, the final burning question is "where is Convention going to be for the next few years?" Many of you suggested sites in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, Philly is still outside of our price range. We continue to look in that area, but to go anywhere near Philadelphia would increase the cost per person by at least $50, which we think is too much. This is backed up by the data we received in relation to this year’s event, which said that most of you would rather not pay more to stay in fancier digs. This was what I suspected and I will continue to look at hotels in the price range we’ve been using.

We are locked in to the Holiday Inn in York, PA, next year. Bro. W. Thomas Moyer, PSMC, is the new Convention Youth Director. He is already working on ideas for activities and events. If you have thoughts on what we should do, talk to him! For 2013 we are scheduled at the Bayfront Sheraton and Convention Center in Erie, PA. It is my goal for that event to be my last Convention as Director. I have someone in mind to take over the program at that point, but nothing is set in stone yet. As more information becomes available, I’ll keep you up to date!

There you have it! Convention in a (rather large) nutshell! As always, I'm available for comments and feedback via this blog or at!

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mission - Update!

Brought to us from the bridge of the PA DeMolay Spacecraft, Bro. Matt Maple, SSC, gives us an update!

What do you get when more than a dozen Pennsylvania DeMolay Space Crusaders unite in the name of Mission: Control? How about the best state officer retreat this galaxy has seen! July 22nd – 24th, the appointed and elected officers, as well as Ms. Marian Wiggins, State Sweetheart, assembled to learn how to prepare our spacecrafts for launch! Throughout the weekend, they learned how to accomplish Mission: Public Speaking, Mission: Installation and even Mission: Give! All day Saturday, the officers took part in Space Crusader training and we are proud to say we are ready to hit the space trail in warp speed!

The officers chose various committees which will make Pennsylvania DeMolay, and our Mission better! 

Fleet Commander Rauschenberger – Mission: Lead!
            Captains: Holtzer, E. Ippolito, Rowles and Donahue
This mission will be accomplished by getting inactive Space Crusaders involved in our overall mission. This mission cannot be completed without the help from all of you!   

Fleet Commander TempleMission: Learn!
            Captains: Glass, Barber and Meyer
This mission’s main goal is to complete 100 LCCs by NASA Class (Dec. 2nd – 4th). We know each of us have what it takes to complete this mission. What are you waiting for? Go complete Mission: Learn!
Fleet Commander Kallhoff – Mission: Alliance!
            Captains: Adamcik, Cancilla and Spence
This fleet’s first goal is to have 100 members signed up for the Mission: Control Alliance of Pennsylvania DeMolay. Stay tuned on our website for regular Alliance updates!
Fleet Commander Ms. Wiggins – Mission: Give!
            Captains: Bausinger, Rodriguez  and Blew
Mission: Give! Will focus not only on the contributions of each spacecraft in conjunction with the  Children's Dyslexia Centers, but also the advancement of the Sweetheart program. Without you, this mission will not be a success.

Fleet Commander Maple – Mission: Reflect!
            Captains: Neubauer, Hample and Kopp
It was “Dad” Frank S. Land’s mission to have every DeMolay become a Representative DeMolay, but it is our mission to push this mission with all of our rocket thrusters! We want to have at least* 20 RDs completed by NASA Class (Dec. 2nd – 4th) and to design and execute a similar RD application for Chapter and State Sweethearts. (* NOTE: 20 is the minimum, go above and beyond that goal and aim for other galaxies!)

Fleet Commander Skibicki – Mission: Observe!
            Captains: J. Ippolito, Chubb and Dufour
This mission will shoot for Chapter appreciation and observance of the Obligatory Days we all know and love. We want to prepare every Chapter for DeMolay Month and other Obligatory Days throughout the year. This mission is in the hands of the Space Crusaders of your spacecraft!

Although these missions have commanders and captains, please offer your intel for anything we can do to make your DeMolay experience, and the experience of Space Cadets following a greater one!

What’s your Mission

Thursday, July 21, 2011

One Advisor's Epiphany

This is a special guest post from "Mom" Jan Harms of Pilgrim Chapter. Enjoy!

As a DeMolay Advisor who recently attended Convention, it dawned on me how lucky and blessed I have been to make the choices that I have made to be involved with such a forward thinking and progressive organization for today’s young men.  I was amazed at the talents our members exhibited, both by those in leadership positions and by those who were merely participating.  There was a sense of respect, pride, and dignity exuded by every young man I came in contact with – not only in a formalized setting – but also at the fun parts of the Water Park, paintball, etc.

I can’t think how to better spend my time, personally.  I realize that I am very blessed to see that the young men of today – while they are constantly bombarded by negativity in the media, schools, and society around them – that something good exists in their lives through their participation in DeMolay.  But, what I am even more impressed with, and will NOT take for granted, is that this is an organization that allows our members an opportunity to excel in leadership skills – public speaking, impromptu speaking, leading a group, taking charge, and most importantly – to be independent thinkers! 

The most amazing part of it – it is all allowed and impressed upon the youth by the adults advising these young men – not dictating or doing the jobs that need to be done in this organization for the members. 

I am proud to be an advisor in this organization and hope that my fellow advisors sit back and realize the gifts that we have given in return for the time we give to this organization, and I hope that they  have pride in the young men that join.  We are truly given a gift and should realize it!  It is what motivates me! and makes me proud to be called a “mom” by the members!

Showing Appreciation

Sunday morning at the PA DeMolay Annual Convention is a flurry of activity, and this year's event was certainly no different. From the Sweetheart crowning, to the Guild of the Leather Apron presentation, to the installation of the State Officers - it's a whirlwind day! It's a great time to highlight the leaders of our organization, both young and old, and give out some pats on the back to those who most deserve it.

This year I had intended to publicly present one of these "pats on the back" but due to time constraints I wasn't able to. "Dad" Zack Panitzke has been my right hand man throughout my entire DeMolay (and Masonic) career. He was the guy who first line signed my DeMolay petition. It was with him that I traveled the Commonwealth to DeMolay events. It was his family that first introduced me to Masonry. Without "Dad" Panitzke, I wouldn't be where I am today. He continues to work with me, even now, and I can't thank him enough. He gives tirelessly of his time and efforts to make whatever program he is assisting with work.

Convention is a big job but it is made easier when you have great people helping you. I couldn't have pulled off Convention the last three years without "Dad" Panitzke. The lanyards that were given out this year were entirely coordinated and designed by him (with the exception of the new Mission: Control! logo.) He was also responsible for arranging the hospitality suite and served as an onsite staff member with all of the venues over the weekend. He truly made himself indispensable.

So, on Sunday morning of Convention 2011, I had intended to publicly present "Dad" Panitzke with the DeMolay Medal of Appreciation. But, just what is this award? According to DeMolay International "A Chapter (or Jurisdiction) may recommend any person over 21 years of age for the DeMolay Medal of Appreciation in recognition of outstanding service to DeMolay. The nominee can be a man or a woman and does not need any Masonic affiliation. Nominations may be made at any time. The nomination form must be forwarded to the Executive Officer and, if approved by him, will be forwarded to the Grand Secretary."

I ended up giving the Medal to "Dad" Pantizke after the event and personally thanked him for his help during the year. If you happen to see "Dad" Panitzke (he'll be at Key Man in just a couple of weeks) thank him for his hard work in making Convention 2011 a success!

Oh, and because I can never go without making a good Brotherly jab at him, check out this video of "Dad" Panitzke doing the chicken dance - at least until he realized we were filming him!

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

PA SMC Tom Moyer Speaks to Masonic Leaders

One of the last duties of a State Master Councilor in Pennsylvania is to stand before 600+ members and guests of the Pennsylvania Council of Deliberation and speak for a few minutes on the experience of leading Pennsylvania DeMolay. The Council of Deliberation is a gathering of all of the leaders of the Scottish Rite, plus all of the major appendant Masonic bodies in Pennsylvania. It is a very imposing group to address for most adults-- it can be downright scary for a young man!

But Tom Moyer did an exceptional job of sharing what he learned while serving you last year, and you can watch and listen to his remarks, here.

As an Executive Officer, I couldn't have been more pleased and proud of his presentation. He represented YOU well, and proved the value of the DeMolay program once again!

The next time you see Tom, say thank you for his leadership, for his example, for his dedication and for his sacrifice of personal time for YOU this past year. He is a hard-working, thinking, caring servant of the Order of DeMolay, who could have been a leader in any organization he chose, and we are fortunate that he gave his time and talents to us!

"Dad" Thomas R. Labagh
Executive Officer in PA

Monday, July 18, 2011

Know from whence you came...

PA DeMolay has survived another Convention! It was a great weekend and from the point of view of the staff, it couldn't have gone any better. Thank you to everyone who attended and made it such a fantastic event. Also, congratulations to Bro. Matt Blaisdell on his election to the office of State Master Councilor!

If you were at Convention you saw a great video that Matt put together to launch his membership campaign. So, let's start by checking that out...

I hope you're willing to accept Mission: Control. Now that you know what your mission is and that this year's theme is space and exploration, you should take a moment to brush up on your NASA knowledge. Check out this video presented by Google Tech Talks that does a great job of summarizing the history of the space program's first 50 years.

You have your mission and the knowledge to complete it. Are you going to control it?

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Monday, July 11, 2011

Welcome to the Busy Season

Well folks, we've hit that fabled time of year - the summer season where myself and PA DeMolay are incredibly busy. Today sees us making final preperations for Convention 2011. We're printing agendas, making name badges, finalizing packing lists, and dealing with transportation arrangements. One week from now it'll be all over and I'll be a little calmer, but in the mean time, my stress level is on the rise.

Why am I telling you this? It means that posting is going to be a little sporadic over the next few weeks. I'll try to post my musings as much as possible, but more than likely, I'll be giving you links to other items to read. Enjoy the break from my crazy mind and I hope to see everyone at some upcoming PA DeMolay events!

Let's start off with a link to my favorite website of all - the Art of Manliness. Today, they posted a great article that relates perfectly to my situation. It's titled "Be Clutch, Don’t Choke: How to Thrive in High Pressure Situations (Part II)"  This sounds like the month I have coming up - enjoy!

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A DeMolay's Guide to Mission: Control

Today's post is brought to you by Bro. Matt Blaisdell, DSMC of PA DeMolay, and candidate for the office of State Master Councilor at Convention 2011 in just one week!

Visualize that you’re strapped into your seat, staring up towards your destination. You hear an announcement “10…9…8…7” While closing your eyes, you imagine what is up there to be discovered “6…5…4…3…2…” You grip the armrests and prepare for take off. “And we have lift off!” A large rumble strikes the shuttle, and no, it wasn’t because you forgot to finish your burger and fries from Burger King! The flames shoot out the bottom of your ship and you hurtle towards space; towards your Mission…

For Astronauts, there are many, and I mean MANY, rules you need to follow to assure a safe and successful Mission, but out of all those rules, here are some of the most important ones to remember:

Always keep your life pack with you!
In the deep, dark voids of our galaxy, the closest and most important thing to you will be your life pack. Forgetting to have that with you could cost you your life if you try to leave your spaceship! Once you get your life pack, keep it with you at all times!

Don’t forget your Mission!
Always remember to keep an eye on your goal while up there. It may be an exciting and overwhelming experience to say “I can see my house from here!... I think?” But what exactly is your Mission for this launch? Space exploration, information collecting and moon “prospectin'" will be some of the most important goals!

Don’t be afraid to tell someone you’re an Astronaut, working under Mission: Control!
Trust me, if you say that you’re an Astronaut, you’ll become a world class hero like Apollo 14's Edgar Mitchell, who is a Senior DeMolay. Wear insignia that shows what rank you and people will recognize you as a hero for doing everything you can to help!

If you see aliens, talk to them!
There’s no proof that aliens are bad. After much debate, the decision has been made that if you ever come across a person of another universe, try to strike conversation with them! You never know what they could do to help your Mission or the planet!

Stay safe and have fun!
Granted, being in a multi-billion dollar space craft will be fun unto itself, but you won’t have the leisure of sitting back and playing Xbox or rocking out on your guitar. Being an astronaut requires a strict mindset, with the hopes that you won’t go insane while floating in space! Don’t’ forget, YOU’LL BE IN SPACE! There’s a lot of stuff to do, and you’ll be one of a handful who get’s that opportunity to soar to new heights!

It’s your Mission; Control it!

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Kingdom of DeMolay

Have you heard about the KINGDOM OF DeMOLAY, yet? The KINGDOM OF DeMOLAY is a developing online virtual world, or community, where DeMolays, Advisors, Sweethearts and possibly even prospects will be able to gather and meet and interact using avatars (simulated characters) for gaming and competition, discussion, socialization and learning. Yes, learning-- this is not just a video game-- and the possibilities of this are mind-bending.

Can you imagine going to a DeMolay meeting, without ever leaving your home?

Or a Ritual practice?            Or a soccer game?           Or a sailing competition?

NO?            THEN, WATCH THIS, and come back to read the rest of this blog!

Interesting, isn't it? Just a little tiny peek at what is being "built" for us. will be the URL but access is not available, yet.

John E. Lester is the lead programmer on the project. He is well-known in the development of the Second Life community. His biography is included in the PDF file of an explanatory PowerPoint program presented to me at the Executive Officer's Conference. Check it out, here.

The Graphic Designer of this Kingdom
RJ Kikuchiyo, is a 20 year veteran of 3D design for media. His real-world experience in machining and set design for the film industry adds to the ability to use the tools effectively and produce works of realism depicting historic and accurate objects and places. He now finds the virtual reality world known as “Second Life” to be a creative expression of experience that can be shared, and he is using his skills in the tools of "Second Life" to animate an incredibly realistic environment for the KINGDOM OF DeMOLAY.

Here is a link to Kikuchiyo’s description of the selected central location site for the "Kingdom."

Here you can see a tentative Map of the Kingdom has been revealed.  It is complex, and will have multiple levels of play and interaction.  Prospects and non-affiliated parties will be able to explore a basic level, and members will be able to progress further into the realm, and to access features reserved only for members.

Here are some links to other location scenes:

The following test videos will show you more of the complexity of the site where DeMolays will be able to meet and interact:



And, yes, it does look like that-- Dad Williamson and Dad Boyce and I were there a few years ago!

Here is an unsolicited (and very complimentary) review of the development of the Kingdom of DeMolay by someone who is active in the Second Life virtual reality world. He talks a language that I don't fully comprehend, but what I do understand further convinces me that DeMolay International is on the right track with a first-class team of visionaries who are going to give DeMolay International something that no other youth organization has!

Here is a link to a blog written by ONE of the animators or designers (of HAIR no less!) The video she refers to was removed, but, read of her enthusiasm for the project! This is new ground being plowed-- this is a cutting edge world, and people OUTSIDE of our usually secluded fraternal community are looking in and getting excited about something WE are doing! This hasn't happened for DeMolay since before Dad Land died in the late 1950s!

These are just a few glimpses of something that I think will be very exciting for the DeMolay program.  DeMolay International has committed a very large amount of funding to this project, which also includes some traditional radio, TV and poster-style promotion.  Hopefully it will also make use of a marketing campaign on Facebook and other social media. 

It will take a long time to build all the details of the Kingdom, and then it will take a lot of members using it to make it really valuable to us all.  Look for details in the future months, and we hope everyone can be active in the Kingdom by the new year!

“Dad” Thomas R. Labagh

Executive Officer