|Volume LIII||November 2006||Number 4|
DeMolays Learn By Doing
Employing a "reality-based learning" approach, the 21st Annual Pennsylvania DeMolay Key Man Conference was held the week of August 6 - 12 at the Masonic Conference Center in Elizabethtown. For the 136 "students" (116 young men and 20 adults) who attended this innovative conference, "learning by doing" was the order of the day! They were given the opportunity to organize, charter and name their inter-conference DeMolay Chapter; elect their officers; develop a week-long term plan that included all the ingredients that a schedule for their home chapter should offer; work on civic service and Masonic service projects; help plan and execute a prospect party for new members; and induct eight real new members at the end of the week! The adults learned how to better support and advise the young men, without taking over or doing the work for them.
While a majority of the participants were from Pennsylvania, the conference included youth and adults from 11 states and two Canadian provinces. Just like "real-life DeMolay," the jurisdictional officers (older members who are elected into state-wide leadership positions) were tasked with planning, executing and evaluating the success of many of the activities throughout the week. Over the years, the PA DeMolay Key Man Conference has become universal in scope and is recognized as one of the finest conferences offered to DeMolays anywhere.
One of the highlights of the week was the visit with the residents of the Masonic Village at Elizabethtown. On Thursday morning, several skits were presented for the residents of the Village Green Residential Living Area of the Masonic Village. This program included the very popular DeMolay Flower Talk, honoring motherhood. In the afternoon, the young men met and escorted residents of the Masonic Health Care Center to the Roosevelt Assembly Room for the very popular "American Idol" competition, featuring residents and staff of the village. The interaction that the Key Men had with the residents of the Masonic Village remains one of the most memorable parts of their conference.
In reflecting on his week at the conference, Eric Bell, a DeMolay from Westminster, Colo., expressed the feeling of most of the young men: "When I arrived here, I didn't know what to expect. I looked at the schedule and how little free time we'd have, and I wondered what I had gotten myself into. But as the week went by, I realized how lucky I was to have been given the opportunity to attend the Key Man Conference. I have learned so much that will make my chapter back home better! I have made so many new friends! This really has been one of the best weeks of my life."
Pennsylvania DeMolay has been moving much of the leadership and planning responsibilities away from adults and placing more trust and confidence in the young men of the program. The 22nd Pennsylvania DeMolay Key Man Conference will be held August 5 - 11, 2007, and, for the first time in its history, a youth will be named as an Assistant Conference Director to help plan, coordinate and run the program! In Pennsylvania, the DeMolay program is run by the members, for the members, with adults acting as mentors and guides. It doesn't get any more real than that!
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