By: Kyle Hoffmann
Membership Day’s largest and most noteworthy event on campus was the MAZE. Here, delegates identified issues with membership that the Order of the Arrow faces today and were given the resources needed to go out and tackle them when they return home.
Participants entered the MAZE and found themselves in a small room surrounded by black curtains on three sides and large windows on the other. In front of the windows was a screen playing a video in which Hunter Jones, our National Chief, and Tyler Inberg, our National Vice Chief, explained that the challenges with membership retention and growth our Order faces today must be overcome as we enter into our second century.
The message was urgent. If we do not solve these problems now, who will? It became clear to delegates as they entered the MAZE that they must be the ones who will strengthen our membership as we move into our second century.
Delegates were then met with a series of three rooms. The first, Problems, detailed what issues we are facing as an Order. Many Scouts don’t understand our purpose. Others simply “don’t play OA.” The room told of the issues we are facing, issues that are mostly based in false, perhaps outdated, perceptions.
The second room, Realizations, had delegates understand the root cause of these problems. Questions were asked such as “Why does your lodge strive for high brotherhood conversion? Is it JTE driven or fellowship driven?” and “What is the new Ordeal member’s perception of the ordeal process?” in order to get delegates thinking about the issues. They then had a quick discussion with their crew on their answers to these questions before moving to the next room.
Lastly, they entered the Truths room – where facts about the Order of the Arrow’s membership retention were fully displayed. Delegates received a flyer with a few statistics on it, such as one noting that the Order has “provided 1,424,075 hours of service in 2015.” However, despite so many hours being dedicated to service by the Order, the flyer pointed out that “in 2015 the national brotherhood conversion rate was just 32.38%.” By the time delegates were through with the rooms of Perceptions, Realizations and Truths, it was apparent that the best way to grow in spreading our message of cheerful service is to grow our membership nationwide.
The MAZE did not end there, though. Delegates, now fully aware of the Order’s membership challenges, were ready to get started conquering them. The final room was full of resources to bring home designed to help lodges expand and retain their membership. Flyers such as the “Guide to the OA Unit Election” gave tips on how to smoothly conduct a quality election. The flyer “Order of the Arrow Program Highlights” gave examples of what opportunities the Order provides Scouts, including OA High Adventure and National Leadership Seminars. Other resources were available to guide lodges in outreach to LDS units, Operation Arrow promotion and more. In bringing these resources back to their home lodges, delegates became ready to go forth and make a change back home.
Through its twists and turns, through our challenges of membership as an organization, the MAZE gave delegates the inspiration to strengthen their lodges’ membership when they return from NEXT. Delegates were equipped with the tools they need to grow and retain members in their home lodges like never before. When they return, expect to see big things coming in your lodge!