Mrs. J. C. Gibson of Richland Springs wrote a story about the calling out ceremony held by the lodge at Camp Billy Gibbons. Her son, John Gibson, of Richland Springs Troop 36, was inducted into the Order of the Arrow in the summer of 1976. He received his Brotherhood in 1978 and served on the summer camp staff. Here is her story.
"The moon is almost full and sheds its soft light. As you cross Plum Hollow you are told to remain silent -- cross your arms Indian fashion. As you near the Council Ring of the Otena Lodge you hear the chant of the young Scout Braves.
"You are an outsider, but you will know by the sincere deep ring of young male voices that this is important to them, therefore you respect their ceremonies and your privilege as a visitor to sit on the outside circle of their council.
"The whispering boughs of the cedar are accompanied by the beat of a slow tom-tom drum and from the east comes the figure of an Indian and he explains that the Order of the Arrow is based on service and brotherhood.
"Still yet another Indian all in full regalia steps forth and invokes the blessings of the spirits in traditional Indian fashion. Through all this the tom-tom holds the cadence of the speakers as they circle the council ring.
"Then comes the Indian Scout Dancers. You are told how the Indian used the dance to express his many and varied ways of life. It was a great part of the young braves life to be able to dance in the Council Ring and these young scouts were no different. They began with the Indian heel dance and the cadence of the tom-tom picked up a faster beat.
"Then came stories in pantomime dancing that told of evil spirits and their removal by the medicine man.
"Now the fun is over and the time for the chosen ones to be called. All is silent, save the wind whispering through the cedar boughs and the crackle of the council fire.
"Suddenly, as if by magic across a deep ravine and high stop a bluff is a flaming arrow. From the council ring this gigantic arrow looks 20 feet long with the flames outlining it making it even look larger. Then a loud voice breaks the stillness and says, 'Many are called, but few are chosen' and the young scouts wait in rigid expectation.
"If you are called you are to stand up and remove your shirt. Then you are escorted not too gently by a young Indian brave to where the Chief officially 'taps' you for the Order of the Arrow. Just one name at a time comes booming into the silence and the Chief in his beautiful headdress taps you and you are escorted out of the council ring into the deep ravine. This means you are on your own and your ordeal begins.
"'From the moment you stand you have just one year to fulfill the tasks the Lodge brother put before you.
'"When the call out voice is silent and the sounds of the night are again upon you, you hear the call of the Whip-o-will and your spine tingles because you really know it is the call of one of the Indians to another. Then from the bluff comes the screech of an owl answered again by the plaintiff Whip-o-will.
"You leave as you are politely bid to do, filled with curiosity as to what the night holds. Somehow you are sure your son or brother will be a better person if he is man enough to perform the tasks set forth for him to fulfill.
"The Order of the Arrow is something all scouts reach for. It is not unattainable. It is based on cheerfulness, service and brotherhood. 'The first ordeal may be passed within one year -- the other two may take an entire lifetime. It depends on the candidate for the degree."
Editor's Note: Mrs. Gibson
pretty well described what the calling out ceremony had been for many years
at Camp Billy Gibbons. Only a few changes were made over the years. The
Scouts no longer removed their shirts before having a wreath place around
them and they were treated more gently as they were led around the council
ring to the bluff, all brought about by changes in time. But as she said
"Many are called but few are chosen." How many times have you said those
words or heard them said as a camper at Camp Billy Gibbons? In the fifty-eight
year history of the lodge over 1,500 Scouts and Scouters in the Comanche
Trail Council had been called to membership in the Order of the Arrow.