Monday, July 30, 2012

Convention 2012 Survey Results

Being the Director of Convention is a great job. I really enjoy planning one of the most anticipated events on the PA DeMolay calendar. I wouldn’t do the job if I didn’t get some satisfaction 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 of. Let’s review!

In total, we received 30 responses to our survey. Of those, five were from active DeMolays and 25 were from adults. This equates to just under one fifth of the attendees. This is an acceptable sample size for surveys, so I feel okay drawing some conclusions about the program (although the results are skewed to the adult perspective.) 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 and acceptable. 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.

You can click this graph to make it bigger.

So, what do I see when I look at this graph? Looking at the first number, I immediately think we had a slightly better than average Convention. This bar corresponds to the question “How would you rate your overall Convention experience?” The average was just under  3.79 out of 5. For comparison, last year we received a 3.75. 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 3.70. 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, the scores are almost equal, telling me that people were quite honest. 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 score was for paintball at Ski-Rountop. This event averaged a 4.14 out of 5, which is much higher than we've received on similar events in the past. I only received one "complaint" about paintball, so I'm fairly happy with the event. After last year, we contemplated removing paintball from the Convention program, but this proves to me that it does remain a viable option.
Next up we have the Harley Factory tour. It received a 3 out of 5, which was generous on the behalf of the respondents. Their were some communications issues at the factory, resulting in some people having their tour delayed, or not being able to go at all. This was compounded with the rudeness of the staff at the factory. Thankfully, we worked out method to get everyone through, but I understand the reason for this score being low.

Speedway 94 turned out much better than I expected. With the rain in the area, I was quite worried that we wouldn't be able to do much. Their staff came through and got all but one track opened up, which was great. Also, I can honestly say that NASCAR driver Tony Stewart saved this event. His presence distracted people while the tracks were readied, making the down time easier to manage. With an average of 3.91, I feel comfortable looking for similar venues in the future - meaning places with go-karts and games, all in one.

The hotel party was a real gamble for us. With the increase in cost of amusement parks, we had to find another way to work some fun into the program. We've never "brought the party to the hotel," but I was quite pleased with the result. The inflatable attractions worked great, providing entertainment to both the young men and the adults. The game trucks were a smash hit! I've gotten several good comments on them. With a score of 4.04 out of 5, I would entertain doing this kind of event again if we are having trouble securing affordable entertainment.
Now we come to the low scores. I am very frustrated with the score the hotel received. It seems that no matter how many times I ask attendees to let me know of issues, I always hear about the problems after the event. This ties our hands in negotiating a discount, or trying to fix the problem. The score, a 3.32 out of 5, is deceiving. A large number of respondents complained that they found their rooms dirty or with mildew present. Several asked that we never return to this property again. With a response like that, I'm afraid that the Holiday Inn in York has been removed from our potential properties list for our next Central swing. We won't entertain returning for at least 6 years.

The food was our lowest score of all, coming in at a 2.96 out of 3. After reviewing the issues mentioned, I realized that the lowered score revolved around two problems - breakfast on Saturday and lunch on Saturday. It's often said that a Convention lives and dies on the food, so this is a major blow for me. The pancakes were not well received, with many people citing quality as an issue. The lunch was a different problem, with some folks not liking the lemon caper chicken. Banquet food is a major frustration, as you have to try to find something that both adults and kids want. We've tried going really plain, which causes the adults to complain that the food is bland. Every time we go the other direction, and add flavor, we get complaints that it's not kid friendly. We are in the process of selecting the food for 2013, so I'll keep this in mind. Another concern were those with special dietary needs. We will have an area on the registration form for 2013 to make a note of these. This DOES NOT mean that you can ask for a different meal just because you "don't like" what is being served. We will only honor changes that are vegetarian / vegan or medically necessary.

With a 4.29 out of 5, the workshop as presented by Bro. Chad Reichard worked out very well. Chad did a great job and this is one the highest workshop scores we've ever received. Hopefully we can continue to provide a workshop that both educates and entertains. Next year we are thinking of getting some players from the local AA baseball team to speak.

The ritual workshop was also well received, coming in just shy of 4.2 out of 5. "Dad" Brian Shaffer can take all the credit here, as he and his team put together a program that was both informative and entertaining. With ritual taking on a bigger focus here in Pennsylvania, I'm sure you'll see more of these types of workshops.

Last, but not least, we come to the luncheon and business meeting. This score rates how well these events were run and how smoothly everything flowed. Scoring a 3.79 perplexed me a bit. We've generally gotten very high marks on the speed with which we do the business of the organization. However, after a bit of thought, I realized the reason for the low scores - it was all the extras! This year we had a lot more special presentations, including collars, medals, and speakers. This made the session run a bit longer than usual. In general, it was still a good score, so I'm not going to fret too much.

The only other issue that came up in the comments was cost. Apparently there was some concern over the cost compared to the value. While I can't go into the detailed accounting of the event, I can tell you we broke just about even. PA DeMolay doesn't make any money off of Convention. Furthermore, a couple respondents asked about getting discounts on the cost through Grand Lodge or other means. The DeMopoly program will help with this by granting Chapters credit for completing Monopolies on their game board. Also, there are some other programs that haven't been announced yet, so stay tuned.

Whew - that was a lot! Where do we go from here? Well, next year is Erie, with the headquarters hotel being the Bayfront Sheraton. This is a fabulous facility that I think everyone will enjoy. As I have announced, this will be my last Convention as Director. Beginning in 2014, "Dad" David Labagh will take over as Director of Convention. He is looking at sites in Reading and Allentown for that year, as well as Gettysburg for 2015. As we lock in sites, we'll keep you updated.

Until next year...

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Thursday, July 26, 2012

DI Rules and Regs - What You Need to Know - Part IV

As I recover from Convention (and gear up for Key Man) the days only seem to get busier. I've been getting lots of responses back from the post-Convention survey that I sent out. If you attended Convention 2012 and would like to fill out a quick survey on how you thought the event went, drop me a line at and I'll get one emailed to you right away. I have 30 or so responses right now, but I'd like to get to 50 before drawing some conclusions and sharing them with you.

Today we are going revisit a series of posts that I started earlier this year - a discussion of the DeMolay International Rules and Regulations. Every Chapter must have a copy of the Rules and Regs of DeMolay International, however, in many cases they are out of date, misplaced, or just forgotten. Frankly, much of what is contained in the document has little to no bearing on what you do in a local Chapter, but there are some very specific sections that are important for you to know about. In the PA DeMolay version of DAD Training we discuss these, but sometimes we don't look at them as closely as we should. I hope this will help new and veteran advisors alike.

As a warning, some of these posts are going to be a bit longer, as we show the section of the Rules and Regs and then talk about it.

Today we're taking on Part IV: Article 18 - Meetings

318.1      Stated Meetings.  Stated meetings of a Chapter must be held at least monthly.

Discussion: This one is pretty simple. Your Chapter has to meet at least once a month. 

318.2      Special Meetings.  Special meetings of a Chapter may be called by the Master Councilor, with the approval of the Advisory Council, but no business may be transacted other than conferring of degrees, unless specified in a notice mailed to each member at least five days before the meeting.

Discussion: This is a throw back to our Masonic roots. If the Chapter needs to have a meeting other than what is scheduled, the Master Councilor can call for one, with the approval of the Advisory Council. To do so, he must send out a letter to each member, at least five days in advance, and specify what the meeting is about. Only the items that were specified can be discussed or acted on that that meeting.

318.3       Conduct of Business.  Business of the Chapter must be conducted while the Chapter is open on the Initiatory Degree.

Discussion: Again, a Masonic hold over. This permits members who have only seen the first of our two degrees to participate.

318.4      DeMolay Degree, When Opened In.  When the Chapter is opened in its highest degree, all preceding degrees are opened and it may pass from work in one degree to work in another without other form than the declaration that it does so.

Discussion: Now here is an odd-ball rule! Basically, when you open your Chapter on the DeMolay Degree, you can switch to working in the Initiatory Degree without any declaration. What does this really have to do with operating your Chapter? Not much, I'm afraid.

318.5      Quorum.  Eight members are a quorum for the transaction of business.

Discussion: For a quorum to be reached in your Chapter, you have to have at least 8 voting members present. In PA, we handle this a bit differently. Check out the EO's policy on this at

318.6      Request for Special Meeting.  The Master Councilor shall, upon the written request of fifteen members, call a special meeting in accordance with Section 318.2.  The request shall state the purpose of the meeting.

Discussion: This piece provides a way for the members to over-rule the Master Councilor and force him to have a meeting to transact a specific piece of business, even if he doesn't want to.

318.7      Voting by Proxy, Prohibited.  A member may not vote by proxy.

Discussion: If a member wants to vote, he needs to be present to do so.

318.8      Exclude Objectionable Persons from Chapter Functions.  Any member of the Advisory Council who is present may exclude from Chapter meetings, or entertainments or functions held by a Chapter, any member, any visiting DeMolay, Senior DeMolay, Mason or other person, whose presence is objectionable or detrimental to the peace and harmony of the Chapter.

Discussion: This article provides a way for any adult volunteer to stop or prevent an unpleasant situation that might arise. It grants pretty broad powers that most Advisors don't know they can exercise.

318.9      Visitors.
      (a)   A Mason who is in good standing and has been examined by a member of the Advisory Council of a Chapter or vouched for by a Mason is eligible to visit a tiled Chapter or witness any of the secret work.
                (b)   The father, mother, stepfather, stepmother and legal guardian of a candidate for the degrees or of a member of DeMolay, and any other individuals who have attained the age of 21 permitted to attend by the Executive Officer, may, after giving a pledge not to reveal the secrets of DeMolay, visit a tiled Chapter.  (2001)

Discussion: Who can visit your Chapter? Just about anyone, as long as the the EO has given his approval and the Chapter is okay with it. In PA, your EO has automatically approved any adult invited by your Advisory Council, as well as any adult family members, teachers, administrators, clergy, government officials, and law enforcement personnel.

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

Convention 2012 Ritual Competition Results

Ceremony Of Light                                                 
1st Place – JEFFREY  HAMPLE       975 PTS         
2nd Place – CARL BLEW                 940 PTS          
3rd Place – ADAM PRICHARD       830 PTS         

Flower Talk
1ST Place – JOE CIRILO           910 PTS
2nd Place – TYLER MOYER     855 PTS
 3rd Place – ERIC DYE               725 PTS

1st Place – LORENZO RODRIGUEZ     995 PTS
2nd Place – MATTHEW MAPPLE         950 PTS
3rd Place -  JOE CIRILO                          925 PTS

PRECEPTOR TRIO                                              
1st Place – JOE CIRILO                    965 PTS         
2nd Place – LUCAS SELLERS           900 PTS         
3rd Place – ALEX TEMPLE              885 PTS           

1st Place – TYLER MOYER               895 PTS
2nd Place – MIGUEL PEREZ             890 PTS
3rd Place – ROBERT SMITH             640 PTS

Monday, July 23, 2012

Wrapping Up

The Monday after Convention is one of my busiest days of the year. Not only do I plan and organize the event, but I also have to update all of the online information with the results. Between the elections, awards, and the fun times that were had, it's a lot of information to compile. Add to that the approaching Key Man Conference, and I have a busy couple of weeks.

So, instead of a long winded post, I thought I'd give you something useful from the Art of Maniless. Recently, they published a great graphic of how to fold a United States flag. Anyone who has been to Key Man will tell you that this is a good skill to have. Check it out and practice your folding before the event sneaks up on you!

Click the image to make it bigger!

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Monday, July 16, 2012

Convening for Convention

Around mid-July of every year, my attention turns to the annual PA DeMolay Convention. Besides being employed by PMYF, I also volunteer to help with this event by serving as its Director. I'm going into my fourth year with this program, having chaired Conventions in Harrisburg, Cranberry, White Haven, and now York. Next year we are going to my home town, Erie, PA, and I look forward to sharing what the "Gem City" has to offer with all of our members. But, for the time being, my attention is on Convention 2012 in York.

We have a great program planned, with some new innovations that we hope the members like. While going to a theme park used to be a hallmark of the Convention experience, the costs have just proven too great. With the average park ticket coming in around the $60 mark, plus busing (which costs about $15 more per person) we just don't feel that it adds that much value to the program for that kind of cost. So, this year we have decided to bring the theme park to us.

On Saturday night we will be having a huge party at the Holiday Inn where we are staying. We have a DJ, two "Game Trucks" (which will allow 32 guys at a time to play video games), inflatable amusement attractions, and full use of the pool at the hotel. One of the things we've consistently heard from our attendees is that they wanted more free time to enjoy the hotel and to just "hang out" with their friends. We hope that this kind of event will be a good compromise for everyone.

Not everything we are doing is at the hotel though! Participants have the choice of a free tour of the Harley Davidson factory on Friday afternoon, or going to play paintball during that same time. Everyone will finish Friday off with a trip to Speedway 94, in Hanover, PA, with a giant figure 8 go-kart track which is sure to please. These activities should provide a nice balance and keep the program interesting for all.

As with previous years, we will be conducting a post Convention survey to see what everyone thought of the events. These surveys are where we look to find information for making the program better each year, so everyone needs to take the time to fill them out! This is your chance to impact Convention for years to come.

Alright - time for me to get back to my preparations (and my yearly nightmares over something going wrong!)

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Parade of Understanding

Today was one of those days where I didn't have much of an idea of what I should blog about. Convention is coming up next week, so I'm knee deep in preparations for that event. This leaves me little time to just contemplate something to write about. However, my daily routine came to the rescue and provided me a nugget of a post.

Each morning I make it a point to check out what is going on in the world by reading Google News. Some folks pick up the paper, while others get their news through television; I just happen to get mine via the internet. One of the plus sides of getting information this way is that I can check out stories that might not make it into the papers or onto the television. Today, I read and watched a piece created by PBS on the issues that are still occurring in Northern Ireland.

"Issues? What issues?" is probably the response from almost any active DeMolay. The only Ireland they can remember is the peaceful one that beckons tourists to come to see the Emerald Isle. However, some of the older readers will certainly know what I mean. Ireland went through 30 years of internal conflict and strife, mainly due to differences between Catholic and Protestant residents. Known as "The Troubles," the conflict was a major problem in world politics. Bombings, beatings, burnings, and other heinous crimes were committed by both sides, all in the name of fighting for faith and culture.

The short clip I watched discussed "the marching season." Each year, around July 12, members of the Protestant community in Northern Ireland gather to parade through the streets to commemorate their victory over the Catholics several hundred years ago. Many times, these parades run right through Catholic neighborhoods, which obviously brings conflict to the area. There is a whole history to this tradition, which I find mighty interesting (and which involves some heavy Masonic influence as well.) However, the part that got me thinking was the discussion the reporter had with some Irish youths.

The young men she interviewed talked about the differences they face as Catholics and Protestants. In Northern Ireland, many schools are still segregated by faith. Most young people don't have a friend of another faith tradition at all. In fact, at one point, some Catholic young men discuss their interest in meeting a Protestant to "see if they get on like us." The two worlds are really quite alien to each other.

As usual, I'm guessing most of you are wondering what this has to do with DeMolay. Seeing these young men, living in working class neighborhoods, made me think of the members of our Order. While the teens of Northern Ireland are still divided due to an age old rivalry, the young men of American can't even fathom such a situation. In our country, parades are a celebration of the community - a summer tradition marking patriotism and pride. In Ireland, young men are bussed away from parades so they don't get caught up in the inevitable violence.

DeMolay creates an atmosphere where an open dialogue about faith traditions and religion can occur. I have friends of nearly ever faith tradition thanks to our organization - Catholics, Jews, Protestants, Muslims, Hindus, and more. As long as you believe in a Supreme Being, you are welcome in DeMolay. It is up to you how you interpret your faith. That is the power of our organization; it brings people together and puts them on the same level, letting them have frank discussions without any threat of judgement or violence.

My brothers, be thankful for what we have in DeMolay. It is small reminders, like this story, that show me how valuable our program is.

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Slow Day

I just returned from a big Masonic convention in Florida, so I was having trouble coming up with something to write about. Thankfully, the PA DeMolay Yearbooks came in today, so I thought you might like a sneak peak. Take a look!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Helping Bro. Parker Harley

A Pennsylvania DeMolay member needs our help... your help!

Do you remember the night you knelt at the altar of DeMolay and promised to be ever loyal to a brother of the Order... and that you would SEEK to aid him, in time of trouble and need?

Here is another chance to prove that your Obligation as a DeMolay means something to you...

Bro. Parker Harley, of Lancaster-Phoenix Chapter, NEEDS a liver transplant, and I am asking every Chapter, every advisor and every member to consider making a donation, no matter what size, to help a brother in a time of extraordinary need.  

When I say extraordinary need, consider this... the average cost of a liver transplant is quoted on a variety of websites as anywhere between $300,000 and $550,000 in the first year alone.  A detailed description of the costs involved with transplants in general can be found at  When faced with incredible costs like this, and the prospects of having to pay out more money than most of us have ever seen at any one time, it could be easy to lose hope.
But, you cannot live without a functioning liver... and so, Parker and his family have no choice in the matter.  The need is there, but there is no telling when the transplant might happen. Tomorrow?  Next month?  Next year?  They have to be ready, and they have medical expenses now, and so they must place their hope in God and in the generosity of family members, neighbors, church members, fraternity members and in the kindness of caring strangers.

Of course, Parker is a member of DeMolay, and his father is a Past Master of Ephrata Lodge 665-- they are a part of our MASONIC FAMILY.  We cannot let this brother and his family down.  Out of state DeMolay families have already contributed to the cause!  To see a photo of Bro. Parker, and his parents, and to learn more about the disease he is fighting, read this story in the Ephrata Review.

Direct contributions can be made to the "Parker Harley Benefit Fund" at Fulton Bank, or, checks payable to the same can be sent to: 
PA DeMolay 
1244 Bainbridge Road, 
Elizabethtown, PA 17022

and we will deliver them to the bank.

Or, you can attend the "Pound it Park!" Benefit Performance of "The Who's-- TOMMY!" on July 18, 2012 at the Ephrata Playhouse. Come on out and see this great show, and help raise money for Bro. Parker!Your $30 ticket includes a Summer Picnic themed Reception at 6:30 PM and Show at 7:30 PM.  100% of the proceeds are going to the "Parker Harley Benefit Fund" at Fulton Bank, thanks to fund-raising partners, Lily's on Main, The Hill Top Inn, deLyns's Gallery and many other wonderful people!  Details can be found at

Other benefit programs are being planned to raise funds for Parker's medical care. ANY amount that you can share with this brother and his family would be greatly appreciated.  Please... PLEASE act now!

-"Dad" Thomas R. Labagh, Executive Officer

Monday, July 2, 2012

State Sweetheart Q & A

As we prepare for Convention 2012, we turn our attention to those seeking election to leadership positions in our organization. One of the races that always gets the attention of our young men is the election of the State Sweetheart. This year, we have two young ladies as candidates for that office. In today's blog post, we are going to share with you some of their answers from the State Sweetheart application.

Miss Brooke Spence - Elizabethtown Chapter

Why do you want to be State Sweetheart? - To learn more about DeMolay

List your memberships in any youth or service groups: Job's Daughters

List any awards or honors, and offices held in the above group(s): Spirit Award, Chaplain, Several Different Messengers, Honored Queen

How do you plan to promote involvement in the PA State Charity? - To come up with a fundraising challenge that all Chapters can be a part of.

Hobbies or other Interests: Photography, Stage Crew

Miss Sabrina Steed - Reading Chapter

Why do you want to be State Sweetheart? - Rainbow and DeMolay have a lot of the same values and I want to help join the Masonic organizations together. I hold the lessons of Rainbow close to my heart and I believe DeMolay is an important organization to promote because it helps young men become more rounded individuals - much like Rainbow does for young ladies. I believe I could be a good representative of your organization.

List your memberships in any youth or service group(s): Rainbow for Girls

List any awards or honors, and offices held in the above group(s): Several Grand Offices, Past Worthy Advisor

How do you plan to promote involvement in the PA DeMolay State Charity? Ideas include Penny Wars, Dunk Tanks, and more.

Hobbies or other Interests: National Honor Society, Science Olympiad, PEACE Club, Envirothon, Debate Team

Who are you going to vote for?

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony