Vol. XXXIX No. 12 — December 1961

Youth Programs for Boys and Girls

C. C. Faulkner, Jr.

This Short Talk Bulletin is a paper prepared by Brother C. C. Faulkner, Jr., executive secretary of the Indiana DeMolay Foundation. It was read before the Midwest Conference on Masonic Education in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, October 27, 1961, by the author, who has graciously consented to its publication as a Short Talk Bulletin.

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As one who is privileged to devote all of his time to a youth program for all the branches of Freemasonry in Indiana, I am particularly pleased and enthusiastic that you have again chosen to devote a part of your conference to the subject of youth this year.

Let me preface my remarks by stating that, in my opinion, we in America have the finest crop of young people in the world. They are every bit as good and not one bit worse than your generation and mine. We do our country a great disservice when we add to the chorus of Jeremiahs who complain continuously about our young people.

Brethren, make no mistake about it: youth, properly influenced, is our nations and our Fraternity’s greatest asset. Improperly influenced, it can, without a doubt, become one of our greatest liabilities. But remember this especially: there is no such thing as uninfluenced youth.

To believe that the youth of today are the responsibility of someone else is to believe that freedom, democracy, Freemasonry, your own particular brand of religion are the responsibility of someone else. There can really be no question as to what our attitude as citizens and Masons should be toward youth.

Therefore, in the few moments allotted to me today, I will endeavor to discuss generally what our attitude as adults should be toward youth, what we as adults can and should be doing, and some of the needs of youth today.

As adults, we must face the startling reality that Freemasonry, freedom, and democracy will die with every generation unless we teach our young people to carry on. We cannot preserve our heritage by looking to generations older than ours, nor by looking entirely to our own contemporaries. We have to look to the future, and that future is around us every-where — in the form of our young people, no matter what you think of them.

As Chester B. Steele, our distinguished brother from Illinois, said during the 1959 Conference here in this city: “We must teach, and continue to teach, or die.”

I believe that we, as citizens and as Masons, must have a two-fold purpose in our determination to develop youth. First, we should want to do all we can all the time to encourage and to guide young people. That is a part of the philosophy of Masonry. It should always be a part of our activity and philanthropy.

Secondly, let us remember that our hopes for the perpetuation of Freemasonry, our ideals and philosophies, rest only in those who come to us voluntarily, and who are prompted to do so by having been favorably influenced by the good deeds and prestige of the Fraternity and by contact with Masons.

Brethren, we had better cultivate the youth of today. Other agencies, some of them teaching a way of life that is diametrically opposed to the principles of Masonry, are cultivating them intensively; unfortunately, they are doing an effective job. J. Edgar Hoover recently said this in one of his reports; he was speaking on the subject, “Communist Target — Youth”:

All our hopes for the future of our country, as well as for a world at peace, are bound up with our hopes for the future of our nations youth. They will not fail us if we do not fail them. Only our apathy and laxity . . . can cause such a failure.

And he is so right! That is why I believe that Freemasonry had better cultivate the youth of our country. We had better cultivate them with our time, with our interest and with our dollars. We had better “invest” in youth, through Masonically sponsored programs to build character and to perpetuate our philosophies. We must do it methodically, persistently, and enthusiastically. Above all, we must do it!

Show me a thriving youth group, and I’ll show you a group that has the benefit of good adult leadership. When youth programs fail or drift, it is because of a lack of adult leadership and support. Young people are our nations and our Fraternity’s future — and we are the future of our youth.

Call it a challenge, or call it an opportunity. But, remember this: it is a serious responsibility, one that no man can evade or avoid. The challenges and problems can be pointed out by speakers, but they can only be met and solved by doers. One of the greatest potential forces in the world, for our nation and for our Fraternity, is the minds of our young people. Everything that Masonry and mankind can hope to achieve will depend upon the willingness of men and Masons to work actively on the “grass-roots” level, with individual boys and girls. To Masons, this should mean working with Chapters of DeMolay, Bethels of Job’s Daughters, and Assemblies of Rainbow Girls, to develop, by association, precept and example, the mental attitude and moral fiber of our youth.

Let me emphasize that youth programs should not be designed to take the place of the home, Church, or school, but to supplement them.

Now, what are some of the needs of our youth oftoday, and what can we do to help meet those needs? Let’s get down to specifics. Young people need and deserve:

  1. Leadership — real, dedicated leadership.
  2. A set of values — something substantial, something that has eternal value. I’m thinking now of love of home; reverence for God; courtesy; faithfulness to high ideals; cleanness of thought, word, and deed; a desire to associate with other young people with similar high ideals; a devotion to our public schools; a belief in the dignity of man and the immortality of the soul; the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man. Sound familiar? Of course they do! We learned all these things and more when we knelt at a Masonic altar!
  3. They need to be encouraged to develop themselves physically, mentally, morally, and spiritually. They must be inspired to achieve their highest capabilities, to raise themselves to their full stature.

What young people know is what they do, and what they are to be, they are now becoming. They are in their formative years, and their minds are the most fertile soil we have.

Why should we be interested in how other people’s children are trained, and what can we do to fulfill our responsibilities?

There are many good reasons why we should be interested, some of them previously pointed out. Here are several more. One of these days you and I will retire — from our livelihoods, our civic duties, our active leadership in the Craft. Today’s youngsters will step into our positions, we know. How well they are prepared to fill them depends upon their training today. They will control the economy into which we retire, and the philosophies that will shape the destiny of our nation, as well as the destinies of their children and grandchildren.

They will man the controls of all the devices of peace, and of destruction. How well they are prepared to exercise good judgment over their use depends in a great measure upon the set of values they are adopting today. So it really is important to us who are responsible for training our youth. It is vitally important, and unfortunately, more vital than many men realize. It is really immoral, not to be concerned with the kind of young people we are developing today.

What can we do? Remember — anything worthwhile requires planning, time, effort, and money. There is no easy way.

First, I believe that individual Masons, as shareholders in our way of life, should always be interested in projects that benefit youth, whether Masonically — sponsored or not. It is essential to know the direction in which our future is moving, and to help channel the activities of young people and youth leaders into proper and wholesome directions. There are numerous youth groups, all having one common need — intelligent adult leaders.

Masonry's greatest opportunity, challenge and responsibility in the field of youth lies, in my opinion, in our Masonically-sponsored groups: DeMolay, Job’s Daughters, and Rainbow Girls. The real value of those programs must be measured by the impact and influence they have upon their youthful members. That impact and influence is dependent upon enthusiastic leadership and support. Those organizations depend entirely upon Masons and Freemasonry to provide it. That support is much more effective — and much more beneficial to the Fraternity and to young people — if it is a combined and unified effort of all the branches of Masonry in one jurisdiction.

That support should consist of:

  1. Constant encouragement by Masonic leaders, by all those members of the Craft who can actively work with local groups where they exist, and to form new groups where they do not exist but are needed. The great need to be filled here is manpower and leadership.
  2. Financial assistance to enable the state leaders of the organizations to develop and carry out the programs that are essential to the growth and development of youth.
  3. Willingness of the leaders of all branches of Masonry to meet regularly around a conference table with the designated state leaders of the various sponsored groups, to discuss frankly the needs, problems, and progress of the youth programs, and to learn how and where Masonry can assist, financially and physically. In Indiana we believe sincerely that this common effort has given all Masonic Bodies a deeper sense ofpurpose and a more skillful use of the trowel — to see “who best can work and best agree.”
  4. Stress on youth activities in Masonic and related pubheations. Let the young people know that you are not only interested, but that you are doing something for them. Youth groups should in turn let their communities know what they are doing, and who their sponsors are.

We have such an organization in Indiana in the form of the Indiana DeMolay Foundation. The members of our official board are the leaders of Freemasonry and DeMolay. In the three years of the Foundations existence we have achieved results that have amazed even the most optimistic. Those men devote their time and ability, and Freemasonry provides the dollars to get the job done. The dollar figure is no small one, either.

I could recite to you instance after instance where this has been done, and has produced tremendous results — not only for youth, but for Masonry as well. I shall not dwell on the obvious fact that many former DeMolay boys have become members of our great Fraternity. Last year more than a dozen grand masters in the various states were former DeMolays.

What is even, more important is the fact that in our young peoples organizations we have fertile groups to sow the seeds of the great ideals of the Fraternity. Many of these young people will never become Freemasons, but they are receptive to the great humanitarian ideals that our Fraternity teaches: the dignity and worth of the individual, the moral requirements for democratic citizenship, the Brotherhood of Man, the Fatherhood of God. But they must be taught, by men who know the truths and who are zealously interested in their propagation.

Cast your bread upon the waters by proving to your youth that you want to be a part of them. In the years that follow they will want to be a part of you; they will want a portion of the heritage that your Masonic ideals express.

Who touches a boy, by the Master’s plan, shapes the course of the future man” (Unknown)

Touch young people with Freemasonry!

The Masonic Service Association of North America