Micah I. Evans, 32°, KCCH
Growing up in Tyler, Texas, Freemasonry was all around Cameron Gales. He just didn’t know it. Cameron’s interest in history and the aura and mystique of Freemasonry began at Texas A&M University in Kingsville, Texas, with his college fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma. Phi Beta Sigma—an African-American fraternity whose founding members were Masons—stressed the ideals of brotherhood, scholarship, and community service. In fact, as Shriners will readily recognize, Phi Beta Sigma pledges also “cross the burning sands.” Cam transferred to Bethany Lutheran College in Lindsborg, Kansas, and his interest in Masonry continued to grow. He would stop by a local store selling items for the college fraternities and sororities and ask the owners about Masonry. The owners, Masons, would tell him a little bit about Masonry at each visit, stoking his interest a bit more each time. After two years, Cam petitioned to join Salina Lodge No. 60 in Salina, Kansas, in 2006. It was after joining that he learned that his grandfather, his pastor, and other relatives were Masons.
Today Cam is 29 and lives in Omaha with his wife and two young children, where he serves as truancy officer at Northwest High School, funded by the Urban League, Building Bright Futures, and the City of Omaha. Gales is part mentor, part counselor, working to help kids overcome the barriers that keep them from attending school regularly. Working with kids, he may help them access social services, recommend a mentoring program, or even appear in court with them—whatever it takes to help them finish school. Recently, Cam organized a food drive to engage his students in the community, and he set up a Facebook page to help stay in contact with the kids. “My job is to build rapport, to earn the kids trust, to give the kids my word and keep it. These kids don’t have that dependable force in their life,” Cam says.
Many of the same skills we practice in the lodge room apply to the schools. As Masons, we treat each other “on the level” and Brother to Brother. “I talk to kids, on the level,” says Cam. Confrontation doesn’t solve problems. Building a relationship with kids, promoting attendance and participation, creating a welcoming atmosphere for kids—these are the things that will change students’ perceptions and behaviors for the better. “It’s not that different from a lodge room,” jokes Cam. “A welcoming environment, regular attendance and participation, a sense of belonging—it’s the same for a Mason and his lodge as it is for a student at his or her school.”
“A welcoming environment, regular attendance and participation, a sense of belonging—it’s the same for a Mason and his lodge as it is for a student at his or her school.”
In his spare time, Cam is also an offensive lineman for the Iowa Blackhawks, an arena football league based in Council Bluffs, Iowa. He finds a tie to Masonry on the football field: a sense of brotherhood, a sense of teamwork, and an environment where everyone has a different role, but everyone works together as a team for a common goal. “I’d like to be more active at the Scottish Rite,” Cam recently said, but he finds it hard to balance Masonry with his work as a truancy officer, a football player, a father, and a husband. In addition to his work, his football, and family, Cam recently completed his Masters in Public Administration from Bellevue University. “I can’t be in the lodge room all the time,” but I take the lodge room with me wherever I go and try to apply Masonry to my job and my life.”
Whether Cam is working to provide students a stable adult influence, or associating with his fans on the football field, he is building networks. “As Masons, we sell brotherhood, camaraderie, and belonging; ultimately, that is what it is all about.”
Bro. Cameron Gales, 32°, is a member of Salina Lodge No. 60, Salina, Kansas, and a member of the Valley of Omaha.