Shout Out for CHiP

This past Thursday, T and I were helping run one of the most important events that the Masons coordinate. It wasn’t a fundraiser, or a fancy ball, instead, we gave our services away for free.

The CHiP program, or Child Identification Program, sometimes called Masonichip, is a service that Masons help provide, that parents hope they never have to use. CHiP helps create a packet for your child, containing current photographs, a short video, fingerprints, a DNA sample, a scent pad (for scent dogs), and dental impressions. The idea is that in the event a child goes missing, a parent who has participated in the CHiP program simply has to give the packet to police, which will hopefully greatly assist in finding the lost child. Despite what many conspiracy theorists want you to believe, the CHiP program does not microchip or mark your child in anyway, nor is any of the information kept on a list. Nothing, in fact is saved as far as the Masons are concerned, and all of the information goes home with the parent or guardian. Since they grow so fast, it is recommended that a new CHiP packet is made each year in order to have the most up to date information. Often CHiP events are held at county or state fairs, the one that T and I helped out at was at my hospital’s safety fair.

The CHiP program is 100% funded by Masons, and it is Masons and their families that help run the events themselves. The CHiP program actually works directly with the Center for Missing and Exploited Children. I’m not going to go terribly into too much detail about this topic, because I run the risk of repeating myself. If you would like to know more about the CHiP program and similar programs funded and ran by Masons, including Take25, you can check out last year’s post here. The national CHiP website can be found here. Although often, an individual state will have its own separate website. If Masons do not have a CHiP program in your state or jurisdiction, there is lots of information on the national site about making that happen.I highly encourage you to do so if it is not available in your state.

I’m keeping it short and sweet for this week. I feel that this is a very important program that certainly warrants passing the word along from year to year. If you would like to get involved with a CHiP program in your state, or would like to help start a CHiP program in your state, contact your Grand Lodge.If you have kids and find yourself at an event where a CHiP program is running, I would highly encourage you to have your children participate. It is wonderful for both the welfare of your children, and helps support Masonry at the same time.

That’s all for now; hope you have a wonderful week!

I’m Masonic Youth, and You Can Too!

Life is hectic. Between work, Lodge, Masonic dinners, and other activities, T and I are forced to schedule time together- and we don’t even have kids yet! A major component of our activities revolves around supporting the Masonic youth organization DeMolay; as I have said before, T and I are both adult advisors. We had our first advisory panel meeting since I joined recently, and even though I was exhausted from work, I came to realize just how much goes into running these groups, and more than that, how often they can be overlooked by the rest of the Masonic family.

What is Masonic Youth?

I go into greater detail on each organization here, but this is the quick recap. There are three Masonic youth organizations, DeMolay for boys, Job’s Daughters for girls with Masonic relations, and Rainbow for Girls, who accepts members with and without a Masonic relationship. The ages for each group varies, but they all age out at 21; old enough to be a member of a Lodge or Chapter for 3 years, which allows them to theoretically transition from one group to the next.

The groups do a lot of different things together, but most activities fall into one of a few categories: regular business meetings, initiation/ritual practice, fun nights, service activities, and fundraising. Each group is set up so that the youth are the ones in charge; they run the meetings, vote on activities, give the obligation to new members, etc. In addition to this, each group has one or two state wide conferences each year, which usually includes ritual competition as well as group activities between Chapters. Some states may have mixed conferences every so often, such as MYLC.

In short, Masonic Youth groups provide excellent opportunities for kids that might not receive them otherwise. The minimal cost (I pay $20 a year for my dues), intermingling of groups (i.e. DeMolay sweetheart, dances), lack of religious affiliation, and Masonic connection and values makes them more appealing for many families over other youth groups, such as the Boy Scouts of America.

What are some issues these groups are facing?

Like all of the Masonic organizations, the biggest issue the youth groups are facing is membership numbers. Following in the footsteps of Blue Lodge, none of the organizations openly advertise, and instead rely solely on word of mouth. As many members of Masonic organizations know, membership numbers have been dwindling in the last decade. It can be very hard to interest people, especially teenagers, to come out and do extra “work” (you would be amazed at the difference of guys that come to fun nights vs nights we volunteer to wash dishes), in addition to school, and for some, jobs. The membership issue, in turn, leads to a lack of public interest and knowledge, and the cycle is fueled again.

While I cannot speak for all chapters of these organizations, I can tell you a bit about what is going on in my own. One cannot say that there is a lack of leadership within our Chapter, in fact, we have a few guys that make excellent and natural leaders, that help the Chapter flow the way that it should. These guys volunteer first, are always there on service days, and encourage others to do the same. The issue is it tends to be the same handful of guys that are in this position. Ideally, everyone should be taking turns filling the leadership roles. This I feel, however, is more due to the nature of the beast that is teenagers. Often, youth feel insecure in themselves, are wary about what their peers think of them, and therefore would rather follow than lead.

Another issue that most, if not all, of the Masonic youth organizations face, is that of money. Each Chapter, Bethel or Assembly must be sponsored by an adult Masonic body. Our DeMolay Chapter is sponsored by our local Shrine, for instance. Usually this simply means that the Lodge, Shrine, or Chapter allows the youth to use their facilities for their meetings. We are lucky enough at our Chapter that our sponsor also allows us to be active in supporting events that they put on, mostly through service. Sponsorship does not, however, usually entail much funding, if any. The majority of the funds required by a Masonic youth organization, come from the public, either fund-raising done by the youth, or from the adult advisors.

What are they doing to remedy these issues?

As I said above, Masonic youth organizations are not really advertised the way that other youth groups are. Often, the only way someone even knows they exist is if their child is a member. At one time, DeMolay used to be a household name (I suppose the same could be said for Masonry), but all you will get is funny looks if you ask around. To my knowledge, no real changes have been made on this front (at least for DeMolay). Unlike Freemasonry, Masonic Youth organizations do have an International Council. Statewide, the youth are encouraged to bring in new members, but that is more or less where that ends. Although all of the groups have moved onto social media, this tends to serve more for communication between members more than anything else. Personally, I am not so sure what I would do to bring in more members, but I do know that something needs to be done if these organizations want to continue in the States. Oddly enough, Brazil and Australia have a booming Masonic youth population. Let’s hope that the US takes a page from our Masonic families overseas.

How a group handles the issue of youth leadership really depends on the needs of the specific Chapter, Bethel, or Assembly. Masonic youth groups encourage youth leadership because they are all lead by the youth, instead of by an adult leader, like Boy/Girl Scouts of America. Just like Blue Lodge and other branches of Masonry, these offices exist on a state level, and unlike Masonry, exist on an international level as well. As far as encouraging the youth to take up these positions is concerned, our Chapter is trying a few different methods. We’ve gotten a bit lax over the years with dress, and we want to encourage our members to dress in business casual, instead of shorts and a t-shirt. Many of them will be joining Blue Lodge soon, and this helps ease that transition, and also helps create feeling of specialness when the Chapter is open.

As far as the issue of money is concerned, there always seems to be only one answer: fund-raising. Our Chapter sells baked goods, and I am sure that Job’s and Rainbow does something similar. Of course, all of the members do pay dues, however the dues cost is low enough that it does not put a lot into our coffers. We rely a good deal on donations from the public, both Masons and not. Many of our activities are paid by the guys themselves, for instance if we go out for ice cream, our comes out of the advisors pockets, like gas money when we go to state events.

What can I do to help?

As always, the number one answer is get involved. I cannot tell you what an awesome time I have had in just the few months that I have been an advisor. If you have the time, and meet the requirements I highly recommend it. You can find your local group through Google, or click the name of the organization, which will take you to the main page. By the way, here are the requirements to become a Masonic youth advisor:

*Any adult 21 and older
*No Masonic affiliation is required

Job’s Daughters
*At least 20 years of age and:
Master Mason
Majority Job’s Daughter
Person of Masonic heritage
Parent, grandparent, stepparent, or guardian of an active or majority member of the bethel

Rainbow for Girls
*At least 24 years old and :
Master Mason
Majority Rainbow Girl
Member of Eastern Star, White Shrine, or Amaranth
Parent, grandparent, or guardian of an active or majority Rainbow Girl

If circumstances do not allow you to become an advisor, there are many other ways to get involved. Encourage your children to become members. If you do not have kids of your own, recommend the organization to friends who are looking for activities for theirs. Suggest to your WM that your Lodge support a Masonic youth group that may be looking for a new home. Contact the head of the group in your area, and see if you can sit in on a meeting, to see what it is all about. Attend public events put on by the groups, and encourage others to do the same. Welcome and greet a Masonic youth just as you would any other Mason or affiliated member, encourage them to also attend your events. This will also help your Lodge or Chapter’s membership when the time comes. If nothing else, donate. Time, money, your backyard pool; it may not seem like much to you, but it can make a world of difference to them.


Alright! That was a little bit of a rough week! I hope everyone is feeling well, I know that I am. This last weekend, I was lucky enough to attend the Nebraska Masonic Youth Leadership Conference, otherwise known as MYLC, as a DeMolay advisor. I had a ton of fun. September was really the month for Leadership, as I also was able to present at the Nebraska Grand Lodge Leadership Conference. I am sure you were expecting a big post about the importance of leadership, and believe me, that is in the works. However, this week I wanted to share everything that we did at MYLC. I had a few kids that this was not only their first big Masonic trip, but also their first overnight stay (far) away from home, and they were a little freaked out. I know that it can be just as scary to send your kiddo off for the weekend without really knowing what it is they will be up to.

Our journey (eventually, after a turnaround for a misplaced cell phone), began with me driving a car full of teenagers at 6am. Luckily, most of them slept through the 3 hour journey across state, and didn’t wake until around the halfway point. Once we arrived, we were given matching t-shirts, and randomly assigned groups. Everyone then convened in the main ballroom, where we were introduced to the state officers for DeMolay, Rainbow, and Job’s, as well as our emcee for the weekend, Amanda Hammett (more on her later). We all then got to know each other quite well via a group photo.

Nebraska only holds their youth leadership conference every three years, and this year we easily more than doubled the attendance!

After a quick ice breaker and a run down of what our day would look like, our keynote speaker, Josh Shipp did his thing. If you ever get a chance to hear Josh speak, do it. I don’t care if you’re a teenager, a grownup, Masonic, or not, that man has a lot of really awesome things to day, and has an excellent way of saying them. I actually had one of our members turn to me and say, “This is so much better than a keynote speaker!” Josh talked about two major points as far as leadership is concerned; don’t be average, and be human. I will be writing more about what Josh had to say next week, so be on the look out for that.

After Josh was done speaking, we had a quick lunch, and then broke up into our respective groups. My group first met back up with Amanda, who talked with us about leadership and failure. She reminded us of something that I think is excellent for youth to be reminded of; everyone fails, and failure is okay, and not the end of the world. Amanda alluded to the fact that she had failed big time, but wouldn’t tell us exactly how until the next day.

Pondering had about our own failures, we headed off to the just for fun part of the day, a Frisbee show put on by Flying Houndz. I’m pretty sure this video will give you a better idea than I can:

Needless to say, it was pretty cool. Our next stop was our service project. We stopped by the local food pantry and sorted canned goods for a bit, before heading to the store to buy some more.Within our groups we broke off into smaller teams of about 5 or so. Each team had about $65 dollars to spend (remember, when you donate to Masonic youth, this is the kind of things you are funding!), and 10 items that we had to buy, the rest we could buy any non-perishable items we pleased. Of course, its more fun with a little competition, so our goal was not only to spend the most money without going over, but also to buy the most amount of items. While my team did not win (we ended up with 129 items, mostly canned goods), I will say that I am very proud of my kiddos, as they decided to vow to not spend any of it on ramen. They felt that buying ramen would be the easy way out as far as winning was concerned, and that no one really wants to eat ramen in the first place, and that the food pantry probably already had pallets of it anyway. They literally decided to sacrifice the win in order to obtain higher value foods (mostly canned veggies and muffin mixes). Can’t say no to that, and I applaud them wholeheartedly for that decision.


I had been up for about 14 hours at this point, and it was barely 6pm. I was starting to drag, but a nice dinner and my 3rd cup of coffee for the day did the trick. After dinner, we had a beautiful short presentation called the “Nebraska Family Masonic Portrait”. T tells me that they have done it in years past, but I do not think that changes the impact at all. Basically, the head officer for each Masonic organization in Nebraska, or at least someone in the Grand Line, took time out of their weekend, to come and represent their organization for the youth. Although it was short, the results were really quite stunning.


We were then given a show by a great magician (of which I ended up with no pictures of, somehow), and then it was time for  the tradition for any Masonic Youth conference (leadership, or not), the dance.  It was more or less just like any junior high or highschool dance you’ve ever been to, the girls acting a little boy crazy, and the boys awkwardly standing on the sidelines, not really sure they want to dance with any girls. I suppose this is where I should mention that in my state, girls out number the boys as far as Masonic youth at least 3:1, maybe even 4:1. I talked my guys into staying for 45 minutes, then they could do as they pleased, and was surprised when they agreed. Their time was up shortly after the tradition of Masonic youth dances in Nebraska (at least, I don’t think it happens anywhere else), the Dashboard Light skit. I wish I had video of this, but for some reason I decided pictures would suffice (they don’t). Somehow, at some point in time, a tradition was started where the DJ plays the song Dashboard Light, by Meatloaf. Not the most wholesome song, but I recognize a lot of the kids probably don’t “get” it. During the song, the youth act out this fairly elaborate skit that goes along with the song. I was first introduced to it at the Master’s Ball, where I got drug into doing it with T and his old DeMolay friends. Not sure how it started (I asked, apparently it started sometime in the 80’s). Anyway, the rest of the dance was filled with sweet moves, as seen below:

After some much-needed sleep, our next morning gave us Curt Tomacevicz, an Olympian on the 2 and 4 man USA bobsled team. He spoke to us about fear, and how we can keep it from running our lives and keep us from being leaders. It also resulted in this awesome selfie (excuse the shaggy hair)


After getting to hold an Olympic gold medal (!), Amanda came to speak with us again, more about failure and success. She lost everything due to a simple error, but was able to find so much more than she had in the first place through talking with youth. She was truly wonderful and very easy to approach.

There was one more point of business to attend to, shown here by our state officers:

With our send off song finished, we hugged our new friends goodbye, and loaded back up into the Expedition to head home. I had a wonderful time, and learned a good deal; not only about leadership, but also about our youth members. I know that many of them felt the same. Too bad it’s another three years until the next one!

Hopefully that helps put some of your minds at ease as far as sending your kiddos off on Masonic youth trips. As I said before, next week I will be covering more in-depth on the content of the two conferences; and a goat.

What a Relief!

I would like to start things a bit differently this week with a story:

A young man passed a pawnbroker’s shop. The money lender was standing in front of his shop, and the young man noted that he was wearing a large and beautiful Masonic emblem. After going on a whole block, apparently lost in thought, the young man turned back, stepped up to the pawnbroker, and addressed him: “I see you’re wearing a Masonic emblem. I’m a Freemason too. It happens that I’m desperately in need of $50 just now. I shall be able to repay it within ten days. You don’t know me; but I wonder whether the fact that you are a Freemason and that I am a Freemason is sufficient to induce you to lend me the money on my personal note.”

The pawnbroker mentally appraised the young man, who was clean-cut, neat and well-dressed. After a moments thought, he agreed to make the loan on the strength of the young man being a Freemason.  Within a few days the young man repaid the loan as agreed and that ended the transaction.

About four months later the young man was in a Lodge receiving the Entered Apprentice Degree; he had not really been a Mason when he borrowed the $50. After he had been admitted for the second section of the degree, the young man looked across the Lodge room and saw the pawnbroker from whom he had borrowed the $50. His face turned crimson and he became nervous and jittery. He wondered whether he had been recognized by the pawnbroker. Apparently not, so he planned at the first opportunity to leave the Lodge room and avoid his benefactor. As soon as the Lodge was closed he moved quickly for the door, but the pawnbroker had recognized the young man, headed him off and, to the young man’s astonishment, approached him and greeted him with a smile and outstretched hand.

“Well, I see you weren’t a Freemason after all when you borrowed that $50,” the pawnbroker commented.

The blood rushed to the young man’s face as he stammered, “No, I wasn’t, but I wish you’d let me explain. I had always heard that Freemasons were charitable and ready to aid a Brother in distress. When I passed your shop that day I didn’t need that $50. I had plenty of money in my wallet, but when I saw the Masonic emblem you were wearing, I decided to find out whether the things I’d heard about Freemasonry were true. You let me have the money on the strength of my being a Freemason, so I concluded that what I had heard about Masons was true, that they are charitable, that they do aid Brethren in distress. That made such a deep impression on me that I presented my petition to this Lodge and here I am. I trust that with this explanation you will forgive me for having lied to you.”

The pawnbroker responded, “Don’t let that worry you too much. I wasn’t a Freemason when I let you have the money. I had no business wearing the Masonic emblem you saw. Another man had just borrowed some money on it, and it was so pretty that I put it on my lapel for a few minutes. I took it off the moment you left. I didn’t want anyone else borrowing money on the strength of my being a Freemason. When you asked for that $50, I remembered what I had heard about Masons, that they were honest, upright, and cared for their obligations promptly. It seemed to me that $50 wouldn’t be too much to lose to learn if what I’d heard was really true, so I lent you the money and you repaid it exactly as you said you would. That convinced me that what I’d heard about Masons was true so I presented my petition to this Lodge. I was the candidate just ahead of you.”

From the January 1977 New Mexico Freemason

There are three main guidelines that Freemasons are taught, three main ideas to strive to achieve. These are Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth. The two others I will be discussing in a later post; the one I would like to focus on here is relief, or charity. Masons are perhaps best known for their charity work, it is one of the few things that tends to put them in the public view. First and foremost, relief refers to helping out fellow brothers. This is discussed at more length here. This does not necessarily mean that there needs to be an emergency in order for relief to be given, just that a brother is in a tight spot, and could use some assistance. The point is, if you need help, do not hesitate to ask a brother.

The more known about type of charity when it comes to Masonry is public charity. Freemasons have a number of their own charities that assist the public, in addition to contributing to pre-established ones.

Shriner’s Hospital

Perhaps the most well-known Masonic charity is the Shriners Hospital for Children, owned by, you guessed it, the Masonsic appendant body Shriners International. They have numerous locations all over the United States, however they only specialize in four areas: burns, cleft palate, orthopedic and spinal cord injuries. This sets it apart from the children’s hospital that you may have in your city that will see children with a large variety of issues. Focusing on only four areas allows them to have more specialists and more specialized equipment, therefore being able to provide a higher level of care for the children that see them. A major aspect of Shriner’s Hospital is that they will not turn down a family because of their inability to pay. As a member of the Shrine, you pay a $5 “hospital assessment” fee with your dues, which goes directly to the hospital. In addition to this, many Shrines will hold fundraisers for the hospital, as well as individual hospitals themselves holding fundraisers. The Shriner’s Hospital is the beneficiary of many wills as well, of both Masons and non-Masons.

Masonic-Eastern Star Homes

A quick Google search of “Masonic-Eastern Star home” will give you results for two vastly different age ranges. Both the Masonic-Eastern Star Home for Children, and the Masonic-Eastern Star Retirement homes are services provided by Blue Lodges and Star chapters. However, only one of these are a charity the children’s home. The concept is similar to that of the Shriner’s Hospital, no one is turned away due to their inability to pay. The children’s homes offer safe havens for children who may not otherwise be able to live at home: runaways, cases of abuse or neglect, or simply children of divorce. The homes provide them with a stable environment to grow in, and almost all of the children’s homes have on campus schooling. There is no requirement that the child be that of a mason, or related to one in any way. The homes are funded by Masons giving donations, non-Masons giving donations, and of course fundraisers. Many children that attended the homes go on to join the Craft. These homes are generally run by a board of MM or Star members. There is not one overarching organization for these homes, instead they are usually run by the jurisdiction they reside in.

Rite Care

A little bit different, the Rite Care clinics are the charities of the Scottish Rite. Rite Care provides speech and language therapy for children (as you might have guessed!). The idea is that while schools often provide speech and language therapies at school, a school therapist may be seeing several children in one day, and often there is simply not enough time for some kids to get the help that they need. Alternatively, some children may require more intense therapy than may be able to be provided in the school setting. Usually Rite Care clinics are associated with a local hospital, in the big O the clinic works alongside the university hospital. There are currently over 175 clinics in the United States, giving tens of thousands of children the ability to communicate with the world. Most of the funding comes from the Scottish Rite Foundation, as well as from local Scottish Rite lodges, and of course, non-Masonic donations. Again, no child is turned away because of an inability to pay.

There are numerous other Masonic affiliated charities. To give you an idea…

  • Blue Lodge: CHiP program
  • Job’s Daughters: HIKE (Hearing Impaired Kid’s Endowment Fund)
  • Knights Templar: Knights Templar Eye Foundation
  • Royal Arch: Royal Arch Research assistance Program (Supports research into auditory perception disorders in children)
  • Grottos of North America: Humanitarian Foundation Dentistry for the Handicapped
  • Cryptic Masons: Cryptic Masons Medical Research Foundation (Supports arteriosclerosis research)
  • And a LOT more!

This is only in the United States of course. Over in the UK the Masonic charities are very well-organized, and are all overseen by the Grand Charity. They also have the Royal Trust for Boys and Girls, the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution, and the Masonic Samaritan Fund.

So, we know that Masons give charity, and who they give to, but why is it that they give to charity? Surely there is something beyond “this book said it was a good idea”. I think it is best summed up in this song: