DeMolay in South Dakota...a Bright New Opportunity...for Your Young Men
This Masonic youth organization was founded in Kansas City, Missouri in 1919 by Brother Frank Land because he believed in using the teachings of Masonry to benefit the youth of his day. The organization grew until literally millions of young men were introduced to the concept that what our Fraternity could provide would be beneficial to young men in every community in America. While DeMolay started as a “club” for young men it has become an organization which channels the vigor and enthusiasm in every young man toward positive personal growth and understanding of self and others.
The structure of DeMolay is pretty simple. A Supreme Council exists to set governance of the DeMolay members and advisors. The Council is headed by a Grand Master elected to a one-year term. He is responsible for ensuring that each state within the DeMolay organization has a state leader known as the “State Executive Officer.” The State Executive Officer serves at the will and pleasure of the Supreme Council, but usually for several years. Such structure allows for long-term planning and execution together with essential continuity for the young men and the various Chapters and leaders within a state. Each Chapter is sponsored by a Masonic organization within that city. Some are sponsored by the local Blue Lodge, others by a York Rite body or the Scottish Rite or Shrine.
How does one start a DeMolay Chapter? The Masons in a given town decide to start a “Chapter” of DeMolay. They identify their members, parents of young men who may desire to join (including moms) and ask the Executive Officer to provide a workshop for them. The purpose of the workshop is to identify the standards for adult advisors, help them to plan for a year of activities, learning, honors and awards for the boys. An essential part of the plan is the training for the adults and the young men regarding behavior, cultural social norms and the DeMolay Youth Protection program. During the early planning stages the players in a community will be encouraged to identify, at least for themselves, the elements of leadership and which one or ones each individual will lead. Before opening the doors to youth, the adults must know what the kids will find and that it is beneficial for young men. Before the first boy is invited to participate, a plan is in place.
In previous years it was necessary that the young men had to be at least eleven years of age. As anyone who has been in contact with kids these days will attest, the maturity level between age eleven and eighteen (high school graduation) is simply so diverse as to not be able to be charted. The interests of eleven year olds are vastly different from those of elder teens! Similarly, through the adult leadership which teaches mutual respect and appreciation, the high school seniors become incredible role models for the younger boys, literally lifting them to new heights of responsibility, caring, initiative and pride.
Today we believe that by age eleven too many young men have been “captured” and are held hostage by school activities, homework and undirected social activities. Whether that is true depends upon the adult leaders and parents. To argue that men of the Masonic fraternity are unable to influence the current generation in terms of providing a dynamic organization in which young men can grow and expand their horizons for personal endeavor is, to be very blunt, an admission by those men that they have chosen to give-up on making their community a better place for all its citizens.
As a further opportunity to develop a DeMolay program in a community, DeMolay International has developed a program specifically designed for young boys, say age 8 or 9. It is called Squires and South Dakota is working right now to open the first Squires group. While some ritual exists, that is far from the primary focus. Rather, Squires learn the beginnings of responsibility, interaction with other boys and adult leaders and how to develop leadership skills while focusing on academic achievement...all of which is encased in a fun and experiential program. It is perhaps the focus on success rather than failure in school that can set this program apart. Especially in an era when the schools are called upon to do more and more of the “raising” children, DeMolay Squires gives parents and guardians a big assist in helping boys to become more interested in academics and all the while providing a strong moral environment in which to learn.
New video electronics, Kingdom of DeMolay has helped to freshen the appeal to the youth of today and membership opens that door. Endeavors for charitable purposes, recognition of accomplishments within the organization, leadership workshops, opportunities to meet and work and learn with other DeMolay Brothers, athletic contests, courtesy and good etiquette continue to be traditional opportunities available to the Brothers of DeMolay. And, perhaps the best way to say it is...so much more limited only by the limitations of creative minds dedicated to making new opportunities for young men.
Jacques DeMolay, the last Grand Master of the fabled Knights Templar of the Crusades is the patron of all DeMolay Brothers. It is the allegory of the Templars as staunch defenders of Christian principles against the tyranny of the French King Philip and his accomplice, the Roman Catholic Pope that provides the basis for this modern day arena in which essential lessons of caring for and about others, excelling in “the arena of life,” promoting respect for parents and the nation and encouraging success in school.
The ritual of DeMolay is similar to that of Masonry but not nearly as involved as in any of the Masonic Degrees. By use of the ritual, the DeMolay Chapter is able to provide some needed structure and, at least for many of the young men, a “hook” upon which they may attach their future growth and development.
Perhaps the absolute essential one must understand about DeMolay is the need for young adult Masons to care enough about the youngsters in their community that they are willing to make this program their contribution to the future. In a time when Masons are promoting their various charities, what DeMolay asks of our Masonic members is for our Brothers to donate their skills, talents and abilities to improving the lot for young men in their own home towns. It is not a monetary gift, it is the gift of caring enough about others to help build a better life for them.
If you wish to talk about DeMolay, contact the Executive Officer for South Dakota and arrange a time when you and he can meet, answer questions and perhaps start the process of bringing this program for boys to your town. His name and contact information is: