The 2018 National Planning Meeting is coming up in just 5 days. Our website coordinator, Thomas Driscoll interviews Sean Alewine about what the National Planning Meeting is. Sean Alewine is the SR-7B Section Chief, this is his second term as Section Chief.

TD: What is the National Planning Meeting?
SA: The National Planning Meeting is an annual meeting for the leadership of the Order of the Arrow to meet and plan the next year’s program.

TD: When and where is the NPM?
SA: NPM is traditionally held from December 27-30 in Dallas, Texas. People will often refer to the event as “Dallas” because of where it is held.

TD: NPM is a packed event, but what would you say are the most important items?
SA: Every NPM is a little bit different, as the focus of the meeting is dependent on what the national focus is for the following year. There aren’t many people who get to attend more than one NPM so we have a nearly blank canvas to work with when planning. While the national officer elections are considered a highlight of the event, I truly enjoyed the ability to spend four days with the organization’s top youth leaders and lay the groundwork for the 2018 NOAC in just under four days. It was a fantastic experience where all of the section chiefs fell right into their roles. We were able to take committee positions that fit our strengths and apply those to organizing one of the largest Scouting events of 2018.

TD: How do the National Officer elections work? Is it similar to how we elect section chief?
SA: The national officer election is the main focal point of the first day. After section chiefs arrive on the 27th, they have dinner, are greeted by the national officers and chairman, then at 8 pm go into the election room. What’s really cool about this process is the tradition and gravity behind it. The election is conducted behind closed doors and section chiefs must stay in the room for the duration of the process.

It’s similar to electing a section chief in that there are speeches and questions but depending on the number of people running, there can be over four rounds before the chief or vice chief are elected. Because of this, the election can run into the early hours of the morning. Last year it was nearly 3 am before we had elected the vice chief. We then elect region chiefs in a similar process very early the next morning. I didn’t spend very much time sleeping at NPM.

TD: You plan the Program of emphasis, what is this year’s program?
SA: In 2019 we’re having a year of Focus. Section chiefs will work on innovating conclave and lodge program and host another Hackathon.

TD: What is a year of Focus?
SA: Without a NOAC to plan or Jamboree to support we are taking a year to work on growing and improving our organization’s program. Section chiefs will be broken up into committees where they will work on planning the Hackathon, revolutionizing Conclave, and finding ways to better engagement at the lodge level.

TD: You mentioned committees. What are the committees this year?
SA: There are a number of committees this year all targeted at our Focus objectives. There are two main committees with several sub-sections. The first is Conclave 2.0 with sub-committees targeting Conclave Content and Conclave Administration. The second is the Lodge Performance committee with sub-committees focusing on: Election Rate, Induction Rate, and Activation Rate. The last committee will plan the 2019 Hackathon. Each of these committees will have 4-5 chief’s that will lay the groundwork for the year.

TD: Do you get to pick what committee you are on?
SA: Section chiefs get a lot of preference on their committee. We provided our top choices to Anthony, the national chief and he will assign the section chiefs based upon that information. The process was really similar last year for NOAC.

TD: Anything else, you want us to know about NPM?
SA: While the year’s program and the election are big-ticket items for NPM, every national subcommittee that operates year-round is meeting at the same time. For example, OA High Adventure worked on promotion and other logistics for the summer. The National Communications, Training, Technology, and Trading Post teams, among others, also met to plan out their year. Over 100 people are working almost non-stop for four days to make the OA what it is at the national level. The four days are kind of a blur. Nearly all of my time in Dallas was spent in meetings gearing up for NOAC in 2018. We had a lot of work to do and had to think on our feet to create a memorable

TD: How can Arrowmen like myself follow along from home?

SA: You can follow the OA on Twitter @OABSA, and on Snapchat @OA-BSA. They will be live tweeting and snapping all the major news from NPM.