Working Tools

Generation Zoom

What Youth Orders Can Show Us About Going Virtual

By Ian A. Stewart

Netflix parties. Virtual cooking classes. Video game marathons. If you’re looking to maximize your lodge’s online potential, look to the Masonic youth orders, whose chapters, bethels, and assemblies have flourished online. “We haven’t stopped being DeMolay,” says James Banta, the executive director of the Northern California jurisdiction. “We’re marching forward.” Here, a few tips from the kids:

Meetings and installations can be elaborate affairs. Online, that needs condensing. So both DeMolay and Job’s Daughters now play prerecorded slideshows in place of opening and closing ceremonies.

Youth order leaders have had to get comfortable with the limits of digital security—and their own members’ good common sense. That means using passwords and waiting rooms and, for DeMolay, distributing instructions on “tiling” their own homes, says Don Peterson, executive officer of the Southern California jurisdiction.

Membership organizations including Rainbow for Girls and others can’t leave their members twisting in the wind. That’s why Job’s Daughters introduced an online Sisterhood Ceremony, a pre-initiation that new members can take in order to feel connected to the bethel in advance of their formal initiation.

For JDI, one lesson of the Zoom era is that there’s a lot of back-end work that is frankly better done online, says Denise Jow, the grand guardian of the state. That includes things like adult council meetings and volunteer training sessions.

A two-hour Zoom meeting is a drag, no way around it. So chapters have made a point of having some fun during Zooms. Things like scavenger hunts and crafts demonstrations are common in JDI meetings; DeMolay held a virtual science fair. Banta points to a three-hour binge one chapter had of the video game Among Us. “It’s all about keeping the kids together,” Banta says.


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