As I write this message I am in the midst of spending a week at the most amazing place, the Florida Elks Youth Camp! In my new role as COO I thought it appropriate to spend a week shadowing the activities of the camp to obtain an outsider’s perspective on how our camp operates. From camp check-in to laundry, from the camp kitchen to nighttime chaperone, from the cabins to the maintenance barn, from infirmary to campfire, it has been a view of our camp unprecedented until now and an experience I won’t soon forget! Suffice it to say, wow, wow and more wow! What a well-oiled machine we operate and what an impact we are making on our youth! Our entire staff is second to none!
It’s time once again for the annual update of our statewide membership numbers! To borrow a phrase from last year’s report, we were once again “so close.” Last year we were just 209 members (0.37%) from a statewide membership gain and this past year which ended March 31, 2016, we were just 315 members (0.56%) away from a gain! We have certainly slowed the pace of our losses and maybe, just maybe, 2016 will be the year we record our first significant gain since 1991! Congratulations to everyone who helped contribute to our success this year! We start the year 55,536 members strong!
Greetings and a very happy new year to all! Speaking of a new year, the start of a new year in our lodges is right around the corner, April 1. Will your lodge once again elect qualified leaders for the lodge, members who are not doing the lodge a favor with their service? Or, will your lodge continue a trend of electing only self-serving members of the clique who will make sure to keep the bar and food prices low and the dance bands on stage? Exercise your right to vote in the lodge officer elections. Take the time to meet the candidates and ensure that they have every member’s best interests at heart. When evaluating the leadership potential of a candidate, go back and read my article in the last issue of Florida Elks News or online and hold them to some very high standards.
When I set out to write a new article, my goal is always to get our members thinking! I believe that far too often we allow our thinking to get confined to local lodge issues and local community needs and this causes us to limit our scope. By sharing with you my insights and thoughts on a scale of the somewhat bigger, I hope that we can expand our horizons and develop new solutions to the issues that affect our lodges. It is gratifying to me to be thanked for my articles by our members, but what I find most gratifying is when a member tells me that they implemented a thought or idea in their lodge and they share with me the results! It is in this spirit of seeking continuous improvement that I share with you a few of my latest thoughts and ideas!
At our recent national convention in Indianapolis, the Florida Elks were honored to receive two very flattering mentions. The first was from our national president, John Amen, who remarked at our Florida Dinner that in his travels to all 50 states this past year, the Florida Elks were by far the best state in Elkdom. His exact quote was that we were at the “pinnacle” of leading change in all of Elkdom! The second honor came from Rick Gathen, the Grand Lodge Membership/Public Relations Manager, who recognized Florida for being the most improved state in all of Elkdom for membership after the dramatic turnaround in our membership loss wherein we slowed our annual loss from -3.77% to -0.37%! These are great honors indeed from men who are in the know, and many thanks go to all our members who have worked so hard for us to earn them!
Should you ever need confirmation that you belong to THE BEST state association in all of Elkdom, you have it now. Not to rain on the parade here, but what is it going to take for us to remain on top? It has been a long and slow grind to get here. Do we have what it takes to stay?