The Midwest Rally is an area leadership training conference, where 11 lodges in the Central Region aimed to start on a path of success from the ground up. This event took place in October 2017, and was hosted at Camp Decorah by the Ni-Sanak-Tani Lodge. To make the experience meaningful for everyone, trainers were brought in from Timmeu Lodge from Section C-3A, and Michigamea and Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan Lodge from Section C-7. In addition, Taylor Giles, the 2017 Central Region Chief, served as a trainer.
The event had multiple training sessions, including these featured Link sessions: Unit Election Rate, Induction Rate, and Activation Rate. The last session tied it all together and gave participants a chance to come up with ways to apply it to their lodge and chapters.The training sessions were designed to mimic those from the National Leadership Seminar (NLS). With that in mind, each table had a current or past section officer as a table guide to provide every table with a wealth of experience and guidance. Uniquely though, the area leadership tried to set up the event like a section conclave to give an exciting atmosphere and experience.
The structure of the event worked very well, starting off on Friday evening with a show that set the stage for the weekend. Saturday morning had the first three training workshops and one in the afternoon. The rest of the afternoon was filled with the program they call the “Amazing Race,” which also incorporated how to use all these skills learned in their lodge as well as outside of Scouting. Later that night, the Rally featured a “Lodge Fair,” modeled after the old Founder’s Day events at National OA Conferences (NOAC). This allowed the lodges to showcase the best of their practices and help other lodges struggling with those areas gain a boost. Also, on Saturday night, the closing show featured a “Tonight Show”-themed closing.
The Midwest Rally was a culmination of hard work, planning, and determination that was two years in the making. In 2015, the head chairmen were the elected section chiefs as follows: Seth Murray from Section C-1A and Preston Podolske from Section C-1B. They got to know each other at Podolske lodge’s fellowship, where they decided they wanted to do another area-wide event. They went through three complete iterations before they finally decided on the Midwest Rally. Leading up to the event they had monthly conference calls with the chairmen and their advisers to gain status updates and to develop their plan.
As the event date arrived, it was the cheerful spirits of the brothers that made it work. For a better understanding, that Friday afternoon weather had started raining and carried on through the weekend. Although the event was dampened a little, the participants were actively engaged and said they learned and gained something from this experience. Thanks to the great success of the Midwest Rally, the area is looking to host another similar event in 2019.