Epic Order of the Arrow #TBT

Today, I’m sharing a massive Throwback Thursday (#TBT): A stockpile of thoughts and memories that have come to me in recent weeks as I’ve been pondering the 100th Anniversary of the Order of the Arrow. I’m also sharing audio of two great men who had a huge impact on my life: my old mentor & lodge adviser Jim Dedera, and the founder of the OA Dr. E. Urner Goodman.

Last Thursday was the true 100th Anniversary of the first callout and Ordeal in the Order of the Arrow, the founding of Scouting’s National Honor Society. I Facebooked:

100 years ago today, the Order of the Arrow, scouting’s national honor society and the bedrock of the formation of servant leaders among scouting’s best, was founded. Apart from my family and church, the Order within scouting provided the most opportunities to grow in leadership and service, and to practice skills of management, organization, marketing, writing, communication, leadership, and more that I use in my day-to-day life. The Order of the Arrow helped make me who I am, and I’m honored to still be active and playing an active role in the celebration of the 100th Anniversary this year.

I’ve been meaning to dig up a little Throwback Thursday (#TBT) in honor of the 100th Anniversary, but first I needed some time to digitize an old tape that’s been sitting on my desk for a few months since I ran across it. Now I’ve had time, so it’s time to share. So here’s a random assembly of memories of my time in the Order of the Arrow, sandwiched between the 100th Anniversary date last week and me leaving to help on the staff of the 100th Anniversary National OA Conference (NOAC) at Michigan State University next week.

First, some memories of my own Ordeal, when I became a member of the Order of the Arrow after being elected by my fellow scouts in my own troop. My Ordeal (per my copious childhood notes) was on June 20, 1990. I give you 25 years ago:

Notes from the inside of my first OA Handbook
Notes from the inside of my first OA Handbook

These two pictures are scans from a framed collage that the Hewlett family gave me the day I was presented my Eagle Scout rank. In these pictures, I’m wearing the red scout hat, my dad is wearing the boonie hat, my friend and troopmate Mark Hewlett is in the red shorts, and our Elangomat John Peery is in the white shirt with green bands. Mark, my dad, and I served our Ordeal together. Mark and I went on to become the first two Eagle Scouts in our troop, with our boards of review on the same night (November 14, 1991).

Ordeal, June 1990
Ordeal, June 1990
Ordeal, June 1990
Ordeal, June 1990

We put in a lot of work that weekend in moving and re-building the camp’s monument to the donor of the land to its new location. Our troop had moved the monument as a service project during our week at camp – on our Ordeal, we built a stone walkway up to the monument.

For context, here’s a picture of me with 3 of my boys and my dad at the same monument, just 2 years ago:

At the Sunnen monument with dad, Thomas, Matthew, & Joseph in 2013.
At the Sunnen monument with dad, Thomas, Matthew, & Joseph in 2013.

After my Ordeal, I attended NOAC in 1990 at Indiana University for two days (dad, Mark, and I drove out and “walked in” – we even made it into the Theme Show! I was hooked). I got active in the newly-merged Kishkakon lodge in 1991 as camp promotions chairman, then served as lodge secretary from 1992-1994. I served on staff at the 1992 NOAC on the publications staff, writing for the NOAC Today newspaper. I covered the ’92 Summer Olympics and all things happening in the arena with OA Shows.

Working NOAC publications staff in '92. Reading an advance copy of a show script and pre-writing the article on an antique computer.
Working NOAC publications staff in ’92. Reading an advance copy of a show script and pre-writing the article on an antique computer.

At the ’94 NOAC, I was in the Theme Show cast as part of the shows staff. Here’s a picture of me with a bunch of my lodge brothers (and fellow cast members) before we left for NOAC in ’94:

NOAC 1994 Theme Show cast, before leaving home for NOAC.
NOAC 1994 Theme Show cast, before leaving home for NOAC.

Just prior to leaving for NOAC, I was honored to be called out to keep the Vigil:

Vigil callout, Camp Warren Levis, July 1994.
Vigil callout, Camp Warren Levis, July 1994.

I served as lodge chief in 1995-1996, blessed to work with our lodge adviser Jim Dedera, who by then had become a close friend, adviser, and mentor. Jim passed away a couple of years ago, but not without leaving an indelible mark on hundreds of young men, including me and the close friends that I made while sharing in the leadership of the lodge in our service to our council and communities.

With Jim (our adviser) and my fellow officers, Winter Banquet 1994.
With Jim (our adviser) and my fellow officers, Winter Banquet 1994.

A few years back, Jim gave me a cassette tape that I tucked away until finding it a few months ago.

Cassette tape from Jim.
Cassette tape from Jim.

The cassette tape had a recording of Dr. E. Urner Goodman’s (the OA founder’s) recorded message to Arrowman on the occassion of the OA’s 50th anniversary in 1965, and a short reflection recorded by Jim himself. I’ve finally digitized it and can share it here:

Here’s “Vision Check”, in Jim Dedera’s own voice:

Here’s the text of the Jim’s “Vision Check” recording:

When was the last time that you had your vision checked? No, I don’t mean a physical eye check, but a vision check of the spirit. Each one of us needs to check the vision of the spirit within us often, and to reflect. The vision of brotherhood, cheerfulness, and service is important to each of us as individual Arrowmen. Brotherhood is not self-serving or lacking in love for one another, but Brotherhood is love, and Brotherhood is trust. Brotherhood is friendly. Brotherhood is kind. Brotherhood is caring. Brotherhood is accepting each other for who we are. Is that a reflection of our vision of Brotherhood? Cheerfulness is also a thing of the spirit. It comes from within. The inner vision of Cheerfulness is reflected in our attitude toward life and those with whom we come into contact. Cheerfulness is a reflection of our individual being. Is this a vision that we might have of Cheerfulness? Service, also, is of the internal spirit. Service is caring for each other and a willingness to share ourself. Yes, Service is a thing of the individual and of the team. Think of that word Team, and the letters in it. Together Everyone Achieves More in service to fellow man. Good vision is important for every Arrowman. Vision gives focus, expectation, motivation, and it sustains us for the long haul, to keep the spirit alive. Good vision of the spirit truly shapes who we are. A regular vision check of the WWW is always worthwhile. Be sure to remember that a vision check without a task is only a dream. May we together in the lodge continue to seek the higher vision and to find the greater beauty.

Pre-Vigil Callout, mid-'90s. Dan Reid, me, Matt Reid, Kris Klaustermeier.
Pre-Vigil Callout, mid-’90s. Dan Reid, me, Matt Reid, Kris Klaustermeier.

It means the world to hear Jim’s voice talking to us, challenging us, again. Talk about a “Throwback”!

With these brothers and friends, I learned to serve and to lead.

In 1996, I assisted in the direction of the NOAC Theme Show; in 1998 and 2000, I served as assistant and then Technical Director for NOAC Shows; in 2002, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to write the NOAC Theme Show; in 2004 & 2006, I led the communication operations for NOAC shows and in ’06 was lucky to be able to walk my first-born son Thomas across the NOAC stage in a stroller (the setting was a mall, and we were a “young family” of extras – I maintain that he’s now the youngest cast member in the history of the NOAC Theme Show). I also helped produce and lead the OA’s thematic theatrical productions at the ’97, ’01, and ’05 National Scout Jamborees.

Without a doubt, the Order of the Arrow “provided the most opportunities to grow in leadership and service, and to practice skills of management, organization, marketing, writing, communication, leadership, and more that I use in my day-to-day life. The Order of the Arrow helped make me who I am, and I’m honored to still be active and playing an active role in the celebration of the 100th Anniversary this year.”

Most importantly, it gave me skills AND FRIENDSHIPS for life. All around the country, but especially here at home.

My groomsmen, 2004. All brothers in the Order.
My groomsmen, 2004. All brothers in the Order.

So I’ll close this Throwback Thursday with words from the founder of the Order, E. Urner Goodman, from his recording for Arrowmen on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Order in 1965. Here’s the audio:

And here’s the transcription:

My fellow Arrowmen, during this our Golden Jubilee year, I just wish I might fly on some magic carpet to attend the celebrations in each area and in each local lodge of the Order of the Arrow. What a time we could have together. Well, for lack of that magic carpet, I do want to use the modern magic of the tape recording to bring my greetings and best wishes to you on this happy occasion. So here I am in my living room up in Vermont. My technician this morning is none other than the moderator of our town meetings here in the town of Winhall, Vermont. As I speak, I shall try to picture you in my mind’s eye, gathered about me, and imagine myself looking at each of you, face to face.

Well, Golden Jubilees are rare events, aren’t they? And we do well to make merry. I remember the golden wedding of my grandparents, in whose home I was raised. Grandpa Goodman was a very dignified old gentleman, but on that festive occasion, he even did a dance – after fashion. And he and grandma lived to celebrate many more wedding anniversaries after that one. So as the Order observes its 50th Anniversary, it is natural that we should have some big doings. As I speak, I am looking forward to the weekend celebration at Treasure Island in June. What a time that should be. God-willing, we should have a notable reunion, too, of the pioneers of the Order. My associate director of Treasure Island Camp in 1915, whom I like to call the co-founder, Carroll Edson; and then the very first chief of the very first lodge, George Chapman; and the young fellow who went with me into the woods to select and to prepare the first ceremonial grounds, Harry Yoder. Interestingly enough, George and Harry are still very active and interested in the Order, 50 years later.

Then, of course, my heart is set on the 50th Anniversary National Conference in August, at Indiana University, August 27-31, you remember. This fine campus has been the scene of many a national conference through the years, and in a very real sense, the Order has left its imprint on the grounds. Look for it when you get there. What a time it will be on our 50th. Plans are going forward to make this the biggest and best national conference ever. Meanwhile, in the Boy Scouts of America Report to the Nation during boy scout week, we are presenting a special report on our 50th anniversary to the President and to the governors of our 50 states. And besides such spectacular events, I am sure that in area conferences – yes, in local lodge celebrations, we shall make merry during our 50th anniversary year. I’m so glad that a special ceremony for such anniversary pow-wows in local lodges has been published. 1965 should be our big year in the Order of the Arrow – full of dramatic events. Now, my brothers, this you would expect me to say too: Our 50th anniversary year should be marked not only by festivities, but also by some notable achievements in service. I’m delighted that this begins with each individual arrowman.

By this time, I’m sure you’re all familiar with the special emblem that is to be awarded to each member of our Order who does five things related to our usefulness to scouting this year. I want to challenge every one of you to win this individual award, and shall be looking for it, ultimately, on your Order of the Arrow sashes. Earning this award means many more boys in troops in our camps, many worthwhile camp improvement projects, better scouting, better advancement, and most important of all, many new boys will have an opportunity to join in on the fun and adventure of scouting as cub scouts, boy scouts, and explorers.

One further admonition do I have for you as individual brothers: That you will in this anniversary year do your level best to set the very finest personal example as a true scout and a real brother. I have found, as you have, that others look upon us and expect to see a quality above the ordinary. The arrow is a hallmark of distinction. By the same token, it will be a wonderful thing if each lodge in the nation undertakes some special service project of worth during the year: One that will make your local scout council glad that 50 years ago the Order was brought into existence. Here we have a challenge and an opportunity to do some really big things. Let’s do them cheerfully.

Our chief area of service, of course, is in camping, for the Order has its roots in the camp. One thing that had delighted me in the past few years has been the way in which a number of our lodges have produced booklets on where to go camping for the use of all scouts and explorer units in their territory. Recently, I received another such booklet from the adviser of lodge #468 of the Mount Diabalo Council in California. It was one of the more complete jobs I have ever laid eyes on. It gives guidance not only to local council camping centers, but also to regional parks, state parks, and recreation areas, national monuments and parks, national scout camps, and historic trails. Now I must confess that this particular booklet had a sentimental appeal to me, my brothers, because the adviser who sent it to me is Gilson M. Talmadge, whom I have sometimes called “My very first scout.” You see, it was he, who as a boy led a handful of other boys to my front door in April 1911 and asked me to take them on a hike, eventually to become their Scoutmaster. Well, anyway, let’s make a great record for scout camping in our jubilee year.

I have another specific project which has been on my heart as a feature of our jubilee program: It relates to our preservation of the lore and the culture of our aborigines, the American Indian. My hope is that in each lodge, there will be a special report during 1965 on its study of the particular tribe or tribes which occupied its council territory. Yes, more than that, a report on what it has done to make the costumes and learn the dances and ceremonies of these early people come to life again. When we assemble all of these reports at the end of our anniversary year, it should make one of the most noteworthy reports ever compiled in this field. It would be a great birthday present to the nation.

There’s one more thing I want to say: The Order is not, and indeed never was, one man’s doing. From the very beginning, there were those, young and old, who helped lay the foundation. Men like Dr. Hinkle, a Philadelphia Scoutmaster, for instance, who did much of the early work on our ceremonies. As the Order grew, many men gave superb leadership to its growth in local lodges, and in our various areas and regions, and above all in our national committee. What a wonderful succession of chairmen we have had for that body. What a great step forward it was when we began selecting outstanding young men to be our national secretary and had area chiefs take over our national conferences. So here we are today, a great host of over 200,000 brothers in cheerful service, that covers every state in the Union. I shall never cease to be grateful to those who have helped bring us to this day.

My brothers, I remember how I felt when I became 50 years of age. I was ready to conquer the world for righteousness, figuratively speaking. I was a man full-grown, with a lot of experience behind me. And so, bring on your problems and give me a chance at them! That was my frame of mind. So may it be with us as we celebrate our golden jubilee. With the help and guidance of Almighty God, may we be willing to tackle any appropriate task of cheerful service that will contribute to the brotherhood of man. Amid all the voices of pessimism and discouragement in the world today, we offer out of our 50 years’ experience with dedicated youth, hope for brighter, better days ahead. May God guide each one of you to make the most of his life in this great crusade.

Well now, as I close this little talk, let me lead you in the traditional birthday song, using the words “My brothers” at the end… Happy birthday to you…

To brotherhood, cheerfulness, and service! To the next 100 years!

2 thoughts on “Epic Order of the Arrow #TBT

  1. This is so well done. It belongs in our Orders own website to inspire the Brothers of the Order. This gives clear meaning and direction to those that become the foundation and future of this great Order. Although you might be hard fought to find any arrowman that would ask “what’s in it for me?” This not only gives answers to that question, it inspires one to pursue it. Thank you for sharing your beautiful insight to one of the greatest organizations offered to the youth of today. God Bless You.
    WWW Woody Halbrook

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