by "Dad" Thomas R. Labagh, Executive Officer
Often I have been asked, "Why is the PA. DeMolay Key Man program so successful?"
I don't think it is any secret that the strength of all of our programs is in the leaders who drive them forward. The program grew out of necessity, as the DeMolay International Leadership Training Conference program had effectively shut down through DI's financial difficulties of the late 1970s and early 1980s. After hosting three DeMolay LTCs at the Patton Campus, two pre-renovation and one after the new facility opened, PA DeMolay was faced with the cancellation of the DLTCs and the loss of this vital training opportunity for its members. Rumors of several regionally coordinated LTCs started to circulate, and it didn't take much coaxing for PA to start looking at the same thing.
In the year 2000, the Key Man program made a quantum leap in its curriculum and process when "Dad" Brent Richards conceived of the "reality concept," applied to all activities at the Key Man Conference. Every scheduled experience was tested with the question: "How is this any different from what really happens at the home Chapter level?" Each experience, from registration, to organizing their week-long chapter's officers and committees, to a real prospect party, fund-raisers, and obligatory day observances became models of how to establish and grow a Chapter at home. Success became a secondary goal-- planning, execution and evaluation of success and failure, and how to improve for the next time, was the primary lesson.
Late in this program came the development of the Brotherhood Contract and The Fidelity Pledge-- concepts "adapted" (some would say, stolen) from the "Full-Value-Contract" of the PMYF's Lifeskills Conferences also held at the Patton Campus. The Brotherhood Contract states:
All Conferees agree to conduct themselves according to these basic ground rules:
o SAFETY FIRST
o SHARED VALUES
o POSITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDE
o LEARNING FROM EACH OTHER
o OPEN TO NEW IDEAS
The Fidelity Pledge
I promise that I will try
to live by the DeMolay Virtues
in all that I think, say and do,
and will expect the same effort
from my brothers and Advisors.
When I fail to do so,
I will take responsibility for my decisions,
make appropriate amends, if possible,
accept the consequences of my actions,
and be as forgiving of my brothers
as they are tolerant of me.
We measured our success by the number of LCCs, RDs and Obligation Cards were earned, and the number of new ritual parts that were learned during the week, and also in the the ways the Key Men translated what they learned into valued behaviors that helped their home Chapters grow. This latter item was not an easy thing to measure, except through anecdotes and testimonials by their advisors. The "Reality Key Man" concept carried us for another 14 years, under the leadership of another corps of outstanding directors and adult volunteers.
And the next "big idea?" It may come next year or the year after, but, if patterns mean anything, 2028 should be a really interesting year for Pennsylvania DeMolay!