This year we have the pleasure of having the National Chief, Forrest Gertin attending our Conclave. Forrest is an Eagle Scout and Vigil Honor member of Tschipey Achtu Lodge, Seneca Waterways Council. Conclave 2017 is from September 15-17th at Camp Lassen.

What are some of your greatest experiences in the OA?

My experience as a Conclave Coordinator (Host Lodge CVC) really shaped my career in the OA. I had a great team that really supported me. It was the first large scale event I had a significant part in. Sometimes the most meaningful leadership roles aren’t the ones everyone recognizes as important roles. Another is my time on OA Trail crew. You can’t go out for 2 weeks with 24 guys and not have that be an amazing experience. It changed my life.

How was Trail Crew?

Some of the best parts were the service aspect. You got to make friends with guys and form bonds that just can’t form in an LEC setting. You’re really doing meaningful work. When you go back you can look at the trail and know you made a difference. The Trek rocked too. It was an awesome couple of weeks

What’s your role as National Chief in Operation Arrow?

I lead all of it. Service corps, Indian Village, Trek guides, etc. I see it more of a servant leadership position. A lot of what I’m doing is making sure program ideas are being exchanged between our team and the overall Jamboree staff. Basically, I did my job if both the staff on Operation Arrow and the participants have an amazing time at Summit.

How would you encourage other Arrowmen to stay involved in the Order in College?

If you can’t participate in your local lodge events just support when you’re at home. Do what you love. It’s very easy to be a part of your lodge’s communications team. You can help with social media or emails. That doesn’t require you to be in town.

Do you know Ryan Thomure?

Yes he’s great.

How did you get involved on a section level?

Well I started out as the Conclave Coordinator. Next, I did a year as Secretary, followed by two years as Section Vice Chief, and one and a half years as Section Chief. I spent a lot of time forming relationships with Arrowmen of different lodges.

What was your first conclave?

My first conclave was at Camp Gorton in the Fingerlakes. The theme was Arrow-Nautics. My favorite memory was a training session when we learned how to make sumac tea.

What was your favorite Conclave?

I can’t pick one. Of course, I haven’t gone to the W-3N Conclave yet!

Was there any defining moment that inspired you to serve as a section officer?

During my induction, we were cleaning latrines. Halfway through, an older arrowmen came and helped out. He didn’t interact with us but he was the same arrowmen who gave me my sash. He came to serve with us when he could’ve just sat in a cabin all day. That inspired me.

How has scouting affected the rest of your life?

Scouting has been the biggest catalyst for leadership development. It’s given me a lot of life skills through tangible leadership opportunities.

Do you have a hero?

My father is a hero to me. He’s hard working, he loves his family, and he really cares about scouting. He was my den leader when I was a cub. He’s definitely a reason I stuck with scouting.

What is one of the best parts about being a National Officer?

I’m really looking forward to jamboree. I’m super excited for the staff at Operation Arrow to see what we’ve put together. They’ll be able to take part in all the awesome opportunities Summit has. I’ve been waiting to be on staff since 2013 so I’m really stoked. The other thing is being able to meet scouts from across the nation. I’m looking forward to sharing my experience in scouting with them and hearing what they have to share with me.

Are there any downsides to being a National Officer?

Well, I’ll be spending a lot of time away from school. If there’s one thing about Georgetown, may students, myself included, are very, very, very much in love with the hilltop. It’ll be tough being far away from school and friends almost every weekend.

Any favorite merit badges?

I had a lot of fun with both kayaking and pioneering merit badges. I did kayaking at my local summer camp. To be honest, I’m not a strong swimmer so it was big for me to pass the swim test and get that merit badge.

What would you want to tell a new arrowmen who is on the fence about Conclave?

The Order offers opportunities for everyone. There’s patch training, competitions for athletes, and leadership opportunities for those interested in student government. It’s our organization’s strength that we have experiences for everyone.