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Why Indoctrination?

Gone are the days of the "Cork Game" where the object was to entice friends into the midst of fun-loving entertainers. Gone are the days of the small groups of compassionate friends forming small Lodges for social and charitable purposes. Gone are the days when word-of-mouth was enough to keep a member.

At the end of his year in reporting to the Grand Lodge, Grand Exalted Ruler John L. Walker said "One of the basic factors in the problem of Lapsation is our failure to indoctrinate new members with a knowledge and understanding of Elkdom and the achievements and the great contributions to the public welfare that the Grand Lodge, the State Associations and the subordinate lodges are making. Some of the Lodges are accurately aware of this fact and have developed excellent indoctrination programs that have been of invaluable assistance to them in eliminating and curtailing Lapsation."

In 1957, Grand Exalted Ruler Hobert L. Blackledge named as one of his major objectives the adoption by every lodge of a planned, comprehensive and intelligent indoctrination of new members. He offered various suggestions and ideas for this program and at his suggestion a Section was added to our Statutes at the 1957 Convention in San Francisco, making it mandatory that a committee on indoctrination be named in every lodge to prepare, supervise and conduct a planned program of indoctrination for all newly initiated members. (later, this was changed to be a prerequisite to Initiation)

At the 1961 Convention, Grand Exalted Ruler John E. Fenton, Springfield Mass. Lodge No. 61, reported to the Grand Lodge that a committee of which PGER L. A. Lewis was chairman had prepared and distributed to all lodges a splendid set of Visual Indoctrination Slides and an accompanying commentary, narrated by Vincent Grocott, Santa Barbara, Cal. Lodge No. 613.

He further stated "The purpose of this program was to furnish to each Lodge condensed material which should be used by the lodge in the indoctrination of new candidates for membership and also to increase pride of membership in present members. These slides and narration can be used at public meetings of the lodge or before service and civic club meetings.

"These slides and narration graphically portray Elkdom in action and depict all of the magnificent programs of the Order. Youth Service, Veterans Service, Elks National Home, The Elks Magazine, Elks National Foundation, Elks Memorial Building, State Association Major Projects, Family participation and the myriad programs carried on by our Lodges for civic and community betterment and for youth, patriotic and benevolent purposes.

"The slides were first shown at the Exalted Rulers’ Luncheon in Dallas and received a most enthusiastic reception. They were also shown at the District Deputy Conference.

"This program has been notably successful and already has had the expected profound effect of not only increased pride in membership but of setting before the public the record of the wonderful works of our Order."

Every year since the slides were first sent to the lodges, the Committee has sent additional slides to update them.

Gone, also are the days of the slides, the monotone narration, the suppressed yawns and seat squirming of those being indoctrinated. The Indoctrination Cassette is now less than seven minutes long, encapsulating the history and works of our Order. This short documentary should open the door to discussion and additional commentary on "WHAT IT MEANS TO BE AN ELK".

There are more than 1.1 million members in more than 2100 local lodges.

A proper Indoctrination is a necessity. Without the member’s knowledge of the Order and the pride of being an Elk, how can we sustain and increase our Membership?

Information Source: History of the Order of Elks