Lake-side thoughts: A Perfect Chapter Awards Model

Day 18 … Sports Week is a 6-day flurry of activities at Eagles Mere held once each in July and August.  It’s a sports contest. It’s friendly competition. It’s a model for chapter award programs. Why? Well everyone has a simple, achievable goal – complete at least 5 (3 if you’re 20 or older, a category called the Bald Eagles) events.

You choose from the 18 events that include everything from the lake swim to nail driving to Pele ball to the cannon ball splash to speeches. Everyone can be a winner. For those who aspire higher, there are additional awards. And for those who do things a little out of the ordinary, there are special awards.

It all begins with registering and getting your official wrist band.  The goal is to earn a “participation” award – an awesome tee shirt.  For those interested, you can vie for ribbons in most events and the “all-around” trophies. Then there are the “E” awards given each year to those who, well, do cool things. It’s for sportsmanship, for who helped most, for most enthusiastic. But, you have to complete the minimum to go higher. And, the prevailing mantra is “No Whining!”

About once every quarter, someone asks on the ASAE listserv for chapter award ideas. I’ve been helping a couple of associations look at their awards and recognition programs. And the common thread is that so many current programs miss the point entirely. They don’t reward participation. They don’t focus on mission-related outcomes. They do allow for everyone to win. I say Sports Week for all!