Leaving Your Mark in the New Year

133 Mark Penny tailsOne of the things that our Masonic forefathers were known for was the ability to leave their mark. Whether this was the stonemason in the quarry placing his rudimentary signature on a hewn block, or the philosophical Mason giving his signature to warrant a new Lodge, they all had a desire to do something that would be recognized in the world long after their time on this earth has gone. Operative builders erect monuments; speculative Masons create legacies.

We all have this inherent desire to leave a legacy for future generations. For many, it is simply a family legacy of children and grandchildren, to perpetuate the family name. For others, it is a legacy of action and service to others. Sometimes it manifests as wanting to make “your year” as Master one that the Lodge won’t soon forget. It could be shown through a program that your Lodge takes up and continues to support for years to come due to your involvement. Even financial “legacies,” such as gifts to the Masonic charities or endowments to your Lodge can leave their mark on history. Yet, each of us is overlooking one of the easiest legacies we can leave – that of being there for a member of our Masonic Youth Groups.

There isn’t one senior or majority member of a Masonic Youth Group in Pennsylvania who doesn’t have fond memories of the adults who were involved with the organization. From Rainbow Girls who were guided by Mother Advisors, to Jobies who depended on their Bethel Guardians, or DeMolays who learned important life lessons from their Chapter Advisors; the adult volunteers of our Masonic Youth Groups are leaving a legacy bigger than they could ever imagine – that of memories and positive experiences, moral training in Masonic principles, and guidance in the exercise of leadership skills.

Make your New Year’s resolution one that counts – assisting a Masonic Youth Group in 2015.

Video Games and Kids – How bad are they?

2051752971_1385077490One of the more popular activities for our youth group members is to play video and computer network games and with the holiday break upon us, we know they will be playing them quite often.  Hours and hours and hours of gripping a controller and shooting aliens might seem like such a waste of time.  But just as music improves math skills, there are benefits to all this laser-blasting button-pushing!

Video games have been around for a long time, now, and some of you may remember the first Atari or Nintendo that came into your house with Pac-Man and Donkey Kong.  Today’s games require much more sophisticated knowledge of  the technology, and often the subject/genre of the game’s context.  In a book from the Harvard Business School Press called  “The Kids are Alright” by John C. Beck and Mitchell Wade, tells us that video games are changing kids for the better!  Three major premises suggest that, “Gamers are more social, Gamers are natural strategic thinkers, and Gamers are prepared to be great leaders!”  Today’s networked computer games teach teamwork and competition, help develop risk/reward strategies, allow young people to learn resiliency and optimism, and have a measurably broader leadership skill set.

Here are some basic lessons learned by gamers:  “Be a hero to get satisfaction.”  “Be an expert to be the best.”  “Failure isn’t the end of the world—press restart and try again!”  “Practice makes perfect is really TRUE!” and “Go global— bond with people who share your experience and interests, instead of limiting your contact along national or cultural or religious lines.”  So don’t despair of the “Gamer Generation” and give the kids some credit for all that time they spend in front of the screen— they might actually be learning leadership right in their very own home!  And if they invite you to sit down and play— JOIN ‘EM!  Everything, in moderation, can be good for you, too.  And now, if you’ll excuse me, my squad needs to a point man to run a mission.

Dollars that Make Sense

what-is-a-background-checkProviding a safe and enjoyable environment for our Masonic Youth is a top priority of the Pennsylvania Masonic Youth Foundation. Ensuring the children’s safety is the top priority for the Masonic Youth Groups. To that end, the PMYF, PA DeMolay, PA Rainbow for Girls, and PA Job’s Daughters have committed time and funds to performing thorough background checks on all of their adult volunteers. This is certainly a necessary and important commitment, but what does it really mean, in terms of finance and time?

Since the year 2007, nearly 600 adult leaders of the Masonic Youth Groups in Pennsylvania have submitted themselves for backgrounds checks. These checks are extensive and include reference checks, driving records, and criminal activity checks.  Even minor blemishes, such as speeding tickets, are brought to light by these checks,  so our parents and adults know that the persons with their children are as safe as possible.

This isn’t an inexpensive process, however. As part of it’s ongoing mission of supporting the Masonic Youth Groups, the PMYF has been the leader in helping fund this important function. In that same four year period, since 2007, the Masonic Fraternity in Pennsylvania has paid tens of thousands of dollars to perform the initial background checks. This amounts to roughly $45 per volunteer. Each adult leader pays an annual registration fee which funds recurring random background checks on a percentage of the adult leaders and a guaranteed re-check for everyone at least once every five years. But, at the October meeting of the PMYF Board of Directors, the Board voted to cover this additional cost for the year 2015 as another means of supporting the work being done. By providing these checks the Masonic Youth Groups in Pennsylvania are able to continue to offer high quality programming at an affordable price – all thanks to the support of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania.

This is a program provided by you, the Free and Accepted Masons of Pennsylvania, and we bet  you’ll agree these are “dollars that make sense.”

 

How do they pick them? – Part III: DeMolay

With each Masonic organization having its own methods for picking leaders, it can quickly get confusing how a person might become the head of body. Add to that mix the Masonic Youth groups, with all of their titles and responsibilities, and even more confusion prevails. This series of articles will detail each of the three Masonic Youth Groups in turn, and provide a little bit more information on how their leaders are chosen. For the final article we will be focusing on Pennsylvania DeMolay.

Bro. Isaac W. Holtzer, 80th State Master Councilor of PA DeMolay
Bro. Isaac W. Holtzer, 80th State Master Councilor of PA DeMolay

Pennsylvania DeMolay has had 80 State Master Councilors (highest ranking youth leaders) since its inception. Also serving the jurisdiction are 5 other elected officers; Deputy State Master Councilor, State Senior Councilor, State Junior Councilor, State Scribe, and State Treasurer.

To be permitted to run for State Master Councilor a young man must have served at least one year as an Elected State Officer and attend an interview session with a panel of peers and advisors. To be eligible to run for any elected office a member must have served as Master Councilor of his Chapter, be a Representative DeMolay (an award which is earned by completing an involved self evaluation), have completed all five lessons of the Leadership Correspondence Course, and be approved by the adult leaders of his chapter. Once a young man has been approved to run, he will participate in the elections held each year, at the annual Convention.

The annual Convention is a meeting of all Chapters that make up Pennsylvania DeMolay. Each chapter selects 5 active DeMolays to be voting delegates to represent them at this meeting. Also permitted to vote are Past Master Councilors, Past State Master Councilors, and current Elected State Officers. These young men then cast their ballot for who they would like to have serve in each office. Most years see contested elections, and some have been won by only a single vote!

DeMolay prides itself on presenting a program where the young men can excel and display their leadership abilities. As evidenced by the lengthy process to attain the Office of State Master Councilor, one can see how much of a leader a young man must be! Check out www.pademolay.org for more details.

This concludes our three part series on how the leadership of the Masonic Youth Groups is chosen. We hope you found it interesting and educational. If you have any further questions, or would like to learn more, please contact the Pennsylvania Masonic Youth Foundation.

How do they pick them? – Part II: Rainbow

Miss Ashley Loeb, current Grand Worthy Advisor for PA Rainbow
Miss Ashley Loeb, current Grand Worthy Advisor for PA Rainbow

With each Masonic organization having its own methods for picking leaders, it can quickly get confusing how a person might become the head of body. Add to that mix the Masonic Youth groups, with all of their titles and responsibilities, and even more confusion prevails. This series of articles will detail each of the three Masonic Youth Groups in turn, and provide a little bit more information on how their leaders are chosen. For the second article we will be focusing on the Order of the Rainbow for Girls. Special thanks to Helen Snedden, Supreme Deputy in Pennsylvania for supplying this information!

The Order of the Rainbow for Girls has a long and rich tradition in Pennsylvania. With recent changes in leadership, and new assemblies opening around the state, Rainbow is experiencing a renaissance within the commonwealth. Leading this growth is the Grand Worthy Advisor for Rainbow in Pennsylvania, but how does a young lady attain this office?

The selection process for Grand Worthy Advisor currently has three steps. Any member of Rainbow, 18 years or older, who aspires to the office fills out an application for the station. The applications are reviewed and approved by the Supreme Deputy. The approved candidates are then interviewed by the Senior Grand Executives, who operate like a board of directors for Rainbow in Pennsylvania. The interviews include: ritual demonstration, term presentation, and answering set interview and impromptu questions. The Grand Executives then meet with the Supreme Deputy and a decision is made. The new Grand Worthy Advisor is announced and installed at Grand Assembly, the annual state convention, held in June each year.

For more information on PA Rainbow Girls, check out their website at www.parainbow.org!

How do they pick them? – Part I: Job’s Daughters

With each Masonic organization having its own methods for picking leaders, it can quickly get confusing how a person might become the head of body. Add to that mix the Masonic Youth groups, with all of their titles and responsibilities, and even more confusion prevails. This series of articles will detail each of the three Masonic Youth Groups in turn, and provide a little bit more information on how their leaders are chosen. For the first article we will be focusing on Job’s Daughters. Special thanks to Jan Harms, Past Grand Guardian for Pennsylvania Job’s Daughters for supplying this information!

Miss Victoria M., the current Miss Job's Daugher of Pennsylvania
Miss Victoria M., the current Miss Job’s Daugher of Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Job’s Daughters has three young ladies who serve as leaders for the State. You are most likely to first meet the young lady serving as Miss Job’s Daughter. She is chosen in the spring at the highly competitive Annual Miss Job’s Daughters Scholarship Pageant based on her public speaking ability, knowledge of Job’s Daughters, and personality. Her primary responsibility is to be the organization’s “spokesperson” and attend various Masonic functions throughout the year.

You may also get the pleasure to meet Miss Congeniality. She is chosen in the spring, by her peers, at the Miss Job’s Daughters Scholarship Pageant. Her primary responsibility is to raise money and awareness for the HIKE fund, which helps children with hearing disabilities.

Lastly, one young lady serves as the Grand Bethel Honored Queen. She is chosen each June at the annual Grand Session. She oversees the operation of the statewide Mary Etta Wright Grand Bethel, presides at its meetings, and performs the ritual work in a meeting of the Grand Bethel. The purpose of the Grand Bethel is to promote membership and add another level of opportunity for leadership for girls.

For more information about PA Job’s Daughters, check out www.paiojd.org!

A Summer of LifeSkills

DSC_0193While cold November weather may be upon us, many young people are thinking back to the warmer day so summer and the PA Masonic Youth Foundation’s LifeSkills Conference, held each summer at Patton Campus in Elizabethtown and scheduled for July 19 – 24, 2105.

We all know that the LifeSkills Conference centers its teachings on three core concepts; Respect for others, Responsibility for your own actions, and establishing quality Relationships with others. But how exactly does the program teach these concepts? Through interactive and fun presentations and workshops, that’s how!

Participants in the LifeSkills Conference don’t sit around and listen to lectures about how they should behave and act. Rather they participate in the learning experience by becoming partners in personal growth. A great example of this is the classic “Trust Fall.” In this exercise, participants willingly lose their balance and fall, trusting that their peers will be there to catch them. While this exercise may seem a little cliché, the philosophy is sound. The LifeSkills conference takes this task to the next level though. Falling backward and having someone catch you is one thing, but what about voluntarily falling off of a platform several feet in the air? Would you willing be to do that?

The LifeSkills Conference is more than just a week of pep talks and feel good stories. It’s about coming together as young people in a challenging world, and learning how to handle oneself as a person, and how to contribute back to society in a positive way. These ideas are not new. In fact, one could say they are several hundred years old, being of the same foundations that erected our fraternity. So, have you considered sponsoring a young person to attend the LifeSkills Conference? The ideas of Respect, Responsibility, and Relationships depend on the Masonic fraternity to continue!

Click here for registration information for the 2015 Conference!