|Remembering the Ordeals
at Camp Billy Gibbons. The Ordeals at Camp Billy Gibbons were a real challenge
both for the new candidates as well as the Summer camp staff and OA Members
who came to camp on Thursday evening to put on the Ordeal. The Camp Director
or Lodge Chief of the Order would give the Scouts a briefing on the Ordeal
and what the Order of the Arrow meant at the evening meal. The troops would
go single file with their arms folded from the flag pole area over to the
campfire ring. The Scouts would always go in a clockwise circle around
the campfire ring. Indian dances such as the Feather Dance preformed by
Dabney Kennedy would be presented to the Scouts. By the way, it took me
six years to figure out how the feather actually danced in that sacred
ring. Other dances including the Snake Dance would be presented after the
fire was lit by the Four Winds Ceremony.
After the Indian dancing was completed the Order of the Arrow would light a large arrow on the bluff south of the OA ring. Allowat Sakima and Meteu would walk around the campfire ring and tell the Scouts that many are called but few are chosen, they said if your name if called rise remove your shirt and report to Allowat Sakima at the base of the flaming arrow. Each Scout or Scouter was called by troop number and his name. As the boy was called he did rise removed his shirt and reported to Allowat Sakima. Allowat Sakima would then tap him on the shoulder followed Meteu :tapping him on the shoulder. Nutiket would paint a red arrow on his left arm and Kitchkinet would place a wreath made of willow around his neck. He would be moved into a line with the other candidates where they awaited for the end of the ceremony. The arrowmen would then take the new candidates back up to the dining hall were they were instructed to go and get their sleeplng bags and report to the camp gate at a certain hour. Once the candidates reported to the gate they were lined up on the road and a rope was placed in their right hand; each candidate was also blindfolded. It was my Job to pull the rope with thirty to fifty candidates on it. Each candidate had an arrowman walking beside him to tell him were to step, when to duck, etc.
We would pull the candidates around the camp for thirty -to forty five minutes with them still blindfolded. We would finally take them to the creek Just outside the camp gate. At this point the candidates received the pre-ordeal ceremony. From there each candidate was taken again blindfolded up the creek to a point were he was put out for the night. He was given a sack with one egg, a piece of bread, one piece of bacon, and two matches in it. The candidate was then instructed to build a fire to burn his wreath, meditate on what Scouting meant to him. He was to keep the fire coals going long enough to cook his breakfast on a flat rock the next morning. The candidate then was instructed to go down to Brady Creek and take a bath being careful not to remove the arrow on his left arm. The Arrowman was then to report back to the dining hall for further instructions.
The candidates from this point were broken into crews and did work around the camp. The Ordeals happen on Friday after the calling out ceremony. I remember working on the camp gate, when I took my Ordeal and then again the next year when I took my brotherhood, we went back and finished the entrance gate to camp. The candidates worked on a number of different projects throughout the day. They were given I believe a banana and some crackers for lunch and then was fed a good supper that evening. The candidates were placed on strictest silence and each time they uttered a sound they received a notch in the arrow that had been given to them. If they received three notches in their arrow the Medicine Council of the lodge would meet and determine weather this candidate should continue. In most cases if candidate talked three times the medicine council would asked the candidate to come back and take the ordeal at another time. After the evening meal of Friday, the candidates were put back onto the rope and blindfolded. They were pulled to the swimming area, down the creek and up the bluff to the ordeal site. The Ordeal site was a very sacred area at Camp Billy Gibbons, only arrowmen knew where it was. Following the Ordeal Ceremony the candidates were welcomed by their brother arrowmen and returned to the dining hall for a cracker barrel.
The Brotherhood Ceremony
It was a real honor to belong to the Otena Lodge and to the Order of the Arrow.
1958 National OA Conference
I just want to say a special thank you to some men who meant a great deal to me as I was growing up in the Order of the Arrow. I would like to thank my Scoutmaster Manley Webb, my Asst. Scoutmaster and Sea Scout Skipper Bill Lynn, our Lodge Advisor Dabney Kennedy, other Scouters such as Loyce Gee, Joe Galbrith, Bob Sliger, Neal Pepper, Uncle Tom Pinto, our District Executive Troy Boone and Wally Walski. I would like to tell these quys thank you for touchinq my life.
A red arrow on the white
sash on Brady Creek, was a big part of my life, it was also a launching
pad to my career as a Professional Scouter, and it brings back an awful
lot of great memories.
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