Tag Archives: Militia

Notes from this Weekend

I spent this past weekend at a Maryland Jaycees convention up in Timonium. One of the more memorable moments of the weekend was a presentation my friend Angela gave on Saturday evening. She was kind enough to share a copy and I thought the folks who regularly read this site might find it interesting.

Hi everyone, this person is your typical Militia honoree: they’ve chaired or co-chaired projects from small to large, held many board positions at both the local level and the state level, they’ve crisscrossed the state to assist other chapters, recruited new members, participated in state programs such as speak-up, write-up, and degrees. Most importantly, her chapter has witnessed her growth from the shy person who sat quietly in the back of the room to someone well known, liked, and respected across the state.
This person was nominated for many reasons, but one thing stands out above all others: her ability to successfully mentor chapter members and Jaycees all across the state. She coaches new project chairs through the project planning process and teaches them the fundamentals. She understands the importance of guiding and teaching them how to plan the project, rather than doing the work for them. In the nominee’s own words, “…sometimes people ask for advice, and then they follow-up by asking questions. That’s when you get to be a mentor. And that’s kind of cool. You don’t run the project for them: you answer questions, you give advice, and you help out. But you don’t take over. (It’s gotta be rough for momma bird when the baby bird takes that first step off the branch!)”
Many of you are familiar with quite a few of her…uh, HIS mischief and mayhem. That’s right, he is known around the state for taking the Special Olympics turkey plunge quite literally. Two of our members had recently gotten engaged (they decided to “take the plunge”) so he secretly raised funds to get them to jump in the frigid water, but he took it a step further by making turkey wings out of brown paper bags to go with the turkey plunge theme. They looked stunning! He’s also responsible for our chapter’s largest turnout of speak up and write up competitors at a quarterly convention simply because he challenged the chapter president that he could get a high turnout. Unfortunately for the president, this person won the challenge and the president took a pie in the face!
One of my own foolish moments has paid off in dividends for all of us. After his first year in the Jaycees, he hemmed and hawed about renewing his membership so I made a silly comment about what I would do if he didn’t renew (something about bunnies — you’ll have to ask him). Somehow, he turned it into a practical joke on me, but he’s been around ever since. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
Lastly, I am so very pleased to be the person presenting this award because I greatly value his friendship. We became friends long ago when we served on the chapter’s board and our friendship has grown throughout the years. When I became chapter president, I frequently sought his advice (usually over lunch or ice cream!). His ability to see things I could not were as invaluable to me then as they are now.
His greatest strength is his compassion and caring. He’s known for being quite the practical joker, but last year with great planning and care, he turned the long-time practical joke of bunny ears into Operation Bunny Foo Foo to lift my spirits during my illness. Compassion and caring — that’s him.
But tonight it is not about me — it’s about him. At this point, will the members of the Gaithersburg/Germantown Jaycees please don your ears and escort the newest Militia Major, Blair Learn to the podium.

And then A BUNCH OF MY FRIENDS PUT ON BUNNY EARS and led me to the front of the room where I was presented with a plaque, hat, and other accouterments recognizing me as a member of the Maryland Jaycees Militia. (A Militia Membership is the highest honor you can achieve in the Maryland Jaycees.) The Gaithersburg/Germantown chapter sets a pretty high standard in order to consider someone for a Militia membership and given the caliber of people who had been honored in the past, I figured it was a pretty safe bet I wouldn’t be one of them.
I’m still a little blown away.