Tuesday, October 30, 2012

PA DeMolay Website is Down

Please be aware that the PA DeMolay website is down and will remain offline for about a week. We are in the middle of changing servers, which has interrupted service. We appreciate your patience.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Future of DeMolay

It's been a while since I espoused a little bit of my personal feelings on the DeMolay program, but I think I've formulated some thoughts that I'd like to share with everyone. Of course, this brings with it the caveat that these are my thoughts only and are not representative of PA DeMolay or any other affiliated person.

Lately, I've found that I've had a very similar conversation with many different people. The topic is always the same - "Where is DeMolay going to be in X number of years?" Usually, this talk happens with adults who are long time veterans of the DeMolay program. They decry the shrinking size of Chapters and revel in the "glory days" of some past time. Naturally, they see the DeMolay program changing with the times, often wondering if it's morphing into something different. After many of these conversations, I came up with a "theory" of what is going to keep our beloved fraternity going, well beyond its impending 100th Anniversary.

As we all know, DeMolay was founded by Frank S. Land. If one reads the biography of Land presented in "Hi, Dad!", it soon becomes apparent that he began as a blue collar worker, trying to help those in his local community. He started his adult life doing odd jobs, eventually taking over the family restaurant. Eventually, he landed a job at the Scottish Rite in Kansas City, working as an administrative official. He would later become a social dynamo but Frank Land started his life in a very ordinary way.

As the story goes, it was while Land was working for the Scottish Rite that he met a young Louis Lower. Louis's father had died in an accident and he was looking for some after school work to supplement the family income. Dad Land took a liking to Louis and thus commences the organization of DeMolay. But, for my purposes, this is the most important part of the story.

Lower wasn't much different than Land. He was growing up in a home with financial struggles in the American Midwest. While he was a good student, Louis wasn't the valedictorian of his class. He certainly didn't come from a family that had much. It was because of Dad Land and the Order of DeMolay that Louis was given a new lease on life. It provided him a solid foundation on which to build himself up. This is how DeMolay started and this is what makes our program so special.

At some point in our past DeMolay began to "gentrify" itself. The DeMolay program was so good that it attracted the best and the brightest, which modified the internal culture. For the first half of the 20th century, public schools were just that - schools. They didn't have sports, theater  music, or the arts. A young person went to school to - *gasp* - learn! This meant that teens had to find social interaction outside of school, in the community. DeMolay was perfectly suited to fill this niche and naturally attracted a wide array of members. Those young men would go to do great things, providing us with some of our more distinguished alumni, which includes politicians, actors, authors, and more. But, as time went on, schools began offering more and more. They added several extra-curricular activities that were once the sole domain of community organizations. Parents found this helpful, as it meant school was a one stop shop for all their child's needs. With this advent, DeMolay, and similar organizations, started to see a decline in members. While this isn't the singular reason for decreased membership, I believe to be one of the major factors.

We find ourselves in a quandry. Our membership is shrinking and we aren't always attracting the valedictorian, captain of the football team, and lead in the play. Those folks are so involved in school that it's nearly impossible to get them to come to a program like DeMolay. It's not to say that we don't have some of those folks involved, but in practice it's just tougher to interest them. Instead, DeMolay is a great fit for the kids that get passed over. It provides an outlet for young men to participate in several different kinds of extra-curricular activities that they may not be able to enjoy otherwise. In my eyes, this takes DeMolay back to where it started - with working class families who are looking for a positive social outlet.

The DeMolay program is built to take a "B" or "C" average student and give him chances and opportunities that he might not otherwise get in school. Through the DeMolay program, these young men are improved, raising their grades and giving them a leg up on their peers. I'm personally a great example of this. I was a "B-" student in high school. I did enough to get by and keep my parents happy, but I wasn't engaged in school because it didn't offer me anything. However, once I found the DeMolay program, I started to improve. My writing skills excelled, as did my public speaking abilities. Now, thanks to that evolution, I'm able to make a living for myself by utilizing those very skills.

As an organization, we have to stop living in the past. We must recognize that the program that took us to the very top has been supplanted by the public schools. We have to help the program evolve and once again become a valuable part of the community. In my eyes, that means returning to our roots by offering young men the opportunity to experience a world that they might not otherwise get to see. Our members are the most important thing to our fraternity. If we help them grow as people, they'll help us grow in the future.

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Double Check

Being the Director of Communications for PMYF means that I do a lot of writing. Between the Masonic Youth Minutes, this blog, the websites, and several other publications, I'm constantly churning out documents and pieces for publication. While we do our best to proof read each other here in the office, sometimes we're all very busy and we can't turn things around fast enough. This was becoming a bit of a problem, so I decided to take matters into my own hands and find another proofreading option.

That's when I stumbled across www.paperrater.com. This website is totally free to use and it will do a grammar check, spell check, word count, and language analysis on any written piece. It has saved me a lot of headaches with my writing. I now routinely use it to check my blog posts, website updates, and written articles.

If you're looking to get a piece of work proofed for school or another organization, I highly recommend giving this valuable tool a try!

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth C. Anthony

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Zeruba - who?

As part of my "day job," it falls to me to compile and edit the Masonic Youth Minutes, which is a newsletter that is published bi-monthly by the PA Masonic Youth Foundation. It normally contains an article on each of the Masonic Youth Groups, as well as program updates about what PMYF is doing.

However, for the last year or so, I've reserved the cover article for myself. Each issue, I use this space to write a "philosophical" piece. By this, I mean an article that relates to working with Masonic Youth in general. Often times, this space discusses why working with Masonic Youth is valuable, or what Masons themselves get out of such involvement.

One of the most popular pieces I've written in that column was entitled Wanted: Modern Day Zerubbabel. I'm re-publishing it here, as I think it had some valuable points and deserves wider distribution. Enjoy!

Wanted: Modern Day Zerubbabel

Masonry teaches that King Solomon, along with the other two Grand Masters, completed the Temple at Jerusalem, thereby cementing their place in Judeo-Christian and Masonic history. We, as Free and Accepted Masons, venerate the story and legacy left to us by Solomon and his workers. However, as many Masons know, there is another character of singular importance - that of Zerubbabel. It was Zerubbabel who, according to Biblical interpretation, led the rebuilding of the Temple, keeping the dream of Solomon alive. He is often regarded as a builder and visionary, having taken up the banner that Solomon left behind.

Masonry has its Solomons - those people who have built Masonic organizations from the ground up; men like Walter Fleming and William Florence, who started what would become Shriners International, or J. Raymond Shute, who brought several Masonic organizations to America from England. The average Mason, however, is rarely in a position to build a brand new organization. It takes rare individuals to have the drive for building, as was displayed by King Solomon.

That is when we look to Zerubbabel, the rebuilder. Many communities around our Commonwealth have previously had Masonic Youth Groups. Evidence of their presence remains buried in closets, with costumes, regalia, and supplies. This is not all that dissimilar from the way Zerubbabel found the remains of the Temple. He saw a worn down edifice that he knew deserved far better. Now, YOU can be a modern Zerubbabel. All you need to do is look to the Masonic Youth Groups for a legacy that can be built for generations to come.

Have you considered working to reopen a Masonic Youth Group in your area? The Temple of our Youth is ready for another generation; it just needs a Zerubbabel to lead the way.

Frat! ~ Seth C. Anthony

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Role of Sponsoring Bodies

DeMolay, as an organization, can't survive without the patronage of a sponsoring body. In the case of our youth group, those patrons are Masonic bodies that provided support and financial assistance. But, what is really expected of a sponsoring body for a DeMolay Chapter?

1.         Provide a proper place for the Chapter members to meet.  DeMolay Chapters should meet in a Lodge Room.  If it is not always available, a social room may suffice for informal meetings, but a Lodge Room is almost essential for all ritualistic presentations such as Degrees and the semi-annual Installation of Officers.  If rent must be charged, it should be reasonable, and within the funding capabilities of young people.  If rent is being contemplated, ask this question: “How much rent does a church charge its youth group?  Is Freemasonry’s relationship to DeMolay any different?”  The DeMolays should be able to earn their keep through Masonic service, rather than the payment of rent.

2.         Maintain an active Advisory Council of 6 or more trained adult leaders, one of whom must be a Master Mason to serve as Chairman of the Advisory Council.  Others may be Senior DeMolays, parents, or other adults (age 21) selected to serve. The Presiding Officer of the Sponsoring Body is asked to review the nomination of adults to serve on the Advisory Council.  He signs an adult worker profile recommending the appointment of any adult leader to service.The best Advisory Councils consist of 10 or more members, each with their own job, and none with an overload responsibility.  The Chapter Advisor is the key position, and may be expected to do more than other Advisors.

3.         Supervise the Chapter, through the Advisory Council.  The Sponsoring Body should have some input into the program, activities, membership and funding of the Chapter.  It is important however, to observe protocol by working through its representatives appointed to the Advisory Council.  A Chapter is much more likely to enjoy success when its Sponsoring Body demonstrates interest in the programs the young men have developed.

4.         Promote Membership in DeMolay.  Spread the word about the great program of DeMolay, among the children, grand-children, relatives and neighbors of the members of the Sponsoring Body.

5.         Visit DeMolay meetings or public functions.  It is important that the Sponsoring body be officially represented by an officer at the public Installation of Officers held twice each year.  Occasional visitations to a regular meeting or an activity by members or officers will show the young men that the Sponsoring Body is committed to the Chapter.

6.         Financial assistance is helpful, but not necessary.  DeMolays are expected to raise their own funds for activities, charity, and Masonic service.  However, Masonic sponsorship or scholarships, special activities, tuition for the Key Man Conference, and sponsors of delegates to the Annual Conclave are just some of the ways that sponsoring bodies have provided help, if within their means. The Grand Lodge has authorized the use of Lodge Funds to support the Order of DeMolay.  In addition, DeMolay Chapters hold an IRS 501(c)(3) classification and may accept tax-deductible contributions. 

7.         Provide a good moral and fraternal example to the DeMolays.  The purpose of DeMolay is to take good boys and make them into good young men.  We are, in essence, imparting Masonic principles to our youth.

Does your sponsoring body do this for your Chapter? Are you a member of a Masonic group that could manage this kind of support for a Chapter? Then shoot us an email at webmaster@pademolay.org!

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth C. Anthony

Thursday, October 11, 2012

What have you put out there?

As part of our Youth Protection program, we address the issue of internet safety. In many cases this means identifying bad online situations and getting out of them. However, there is another important part to this topic - that of identify theft and personal history. This video speaks for itself and might make you think twice about your online presence.

Just something to think about... for DeMolays and adults alike!

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Monday, October 8, 2012

Vocabulary 101

With the school year back in full swing, many DeMolays are facing the challenge of papers and tests. Some of the older members are probably staring at college applications and anticipating their future. This can be a stressful time, especially when you're under pressure to get things done by a deadline. With so many pieces to be written, it can be very tedious to draft paper after paper, essay after essay, especially if English isn't you're specialty.

One area that most men struggle with is vocabulary. Having a large vocabulary can make writing papers easier, as well as give an edge in tests and collegiate applications. Thankfully, the folks over at Art of Manliness recognize this and have put together a great article entitled "The Importance of Building Your Vocabulary (And 5 Easy Steps to Doing It)" It's worth a look by everyone - both DeMolays and Adults. 

All DeMolays have an edge in vocabulary thanks to our Ritual, but it can never hurt to expand your horizons.  Someday you'll realize just how important it is to have a wide array of words at your disposal. Just ask the Elected State Officers around the time of the Keystone Crusader deadline!

Frat! ~ 
"Dad" Seth Anthony

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Facing Your Past

One of the consistently trending topics among 18 year olds is the college admissions process. Each year, graduating seniors vie for the college they'd like to attend, usually through complex applications and essays. These documents are read by admissions counselors who then select the students that best fit the institution for which they work. However, as many students are learning, they may not be looking at your application materials only.

In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, entitled Web Profiles Haunt Students, several admissions officers are interviewed about their use of Facebook and social media in the admissions process. Specifically detailed are the policies of Wake Forest University, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Having spent time at Wake Forest, I can tell you that it is a premier school. It has a reputation for quality students and it actively seeks to maintain that positive image. With an endowment of $1.5 billion (yes, billion, with a "b"), the school can ill afford a scandal or issue arising from poorly vetting students. While Wake may be at the forefront of this issue, they aren't the only college using this technique.

What does this mean for students? Simply, they should vet themselves and clean up their profiles. Any references to drugs or alcohol should be removed. Also, students should monitor their own behavior. This includes using appropriate language, not bullying or teasing others, and double checking old photos for something that might be misconstrued. Taking a few moments to clean up your profile could mean that you get into that school you want to go to. Isn't that worth the effort?

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Monday, October 1, 2012

Marching 2 Success

A new resource has taken the DeMolay world by fire - March 2 Success. Already being supported by DeMolay in Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts, this site aims to help students to do better on standardized tests and college entrance exams. The service is provided free to everyone as part of an initiative created by the United States Army to aid young people in having successful futures.

What does the site provide? Why, an amazing amount of FREE resources! Anyone can take practice SAT and ACT tests, as well as download flash cards that will help students study for these important exams. The site also has resources for those trying to navigate the college entrance process and the maze that can be financial aid.

If you're a student, you owe it to yourself to check this out. If you're a parent or a mentor, you owe it to your  guys and girls to share this website!

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony