Otena Lodge has a rich history of working on service projects at Camp Billy Gibbons. Had it not been for the "spirit of service" of Otena Lodge, Camp Billy Gibbons would not exist today as the great camp it is. Of all the things Otena accomplished in its fifty-eight years of existence, the projects done at Camp Billy Gibbons had to be its greatest achievement.
The lodge also served at Council Camporees and Cub Scout events such as Day Camp, Pushmobiles, Pinewood Derbies and Fun and Son.
It started with the OA helping to tear down the buildings at the "old" Camp Billy Gibbons and moving everything to the "new" Camp Billy Gibbons in 1946. There was much to be done to get the camp open in 1947 and the new OA Lodge was there to help.
The next big project of the Arrowmen was to add the porch onto the dining hall. This took some time as the cement was poured in three sections by hand.
In 1958, the Lodge built the permanent gateway to camp and ran the first water lines to some of the campsites. By now the members wanted a building of their own so in 1959 they laid the foundation to the OA Lodge. By the end of 1960 part of the wall was up and the plumbing was completed on the Lodge. The windows were installed, the roof put on and the fireplace was finished by 1963.
In 1964, a road was built behind the dining hall and the cook's cabin was built. The foundation of the cabin was built at the dining hall where there was electricity and then carried over by hand to the site where the sides and roof were added. Today that cabin is used for storage of summer camp equipment.
By 1965, it was time to put a new roof on the dining hall along with painting the latrines and moving the rifle range to its new location.
At the Spring Conference in 1967, a group of OA members spent the weekend trying to find the "plug" to drain "ye olde swimming hole" as it was filling up with silt and rocks. They dug and dug into the gravel and rock under water but were not able to locate the plug. Finally on the afternoon of July 15, 1967, at the Summer Induction, they located the rock that served as a plug to the drain. They tied a rope around Rick Wilkins and he dived under water and grabbed hold of the rock. Ten Arrowmen on the bank then pulled him and the rock loose from the drain! We understand that it took another two weeks for the water to drain from the swimming hole.
Years later, around 1993, some OA members once again tried to drain the swimming hole. They dug in the gravel but were unable to find the plug. They went into the dam from the drain hole on the downside of the dam, but were unable to unplug it from there. It was probably a good thing that they did not success, for the Soil Conservation Service later told them that had they drained the dam and left it dry for a couple of weeks, it would crack and break apart when they refilled it. The dam was over 50 years old.
The camp flag pole had to be reconstructed by the Lodge in 1970 after it had been destroyed by lighting.
The next year a retaining wall was built in front of the dining hall. The waterline to the OA ring was run over the bluff on a cable to the ring in 1972, and in 1973 the Trading Post was completed.
The OA built a new Sunday night Campfire Ring with seats and raised altar fireplaces, relocated the Staff area and built real tent platforms, cleared brush in front of the dining hall and along the waterfront, planted pecan trees, and repainted all the buildings in camp. All this was accomplished in the early part of the 1990's. Some of the other projects completed included the fence around the water tanks, built additional tent platforms in the staff camping area, the moving of the rifle range, and building the ADA restrooms.
The Lodge also built a new entrance to the Chapel and re-roofed the Gee Lodge. The Lodge has been erecting stone campsite markers and flag poles in each campsite at the time of consolidation of the Otena and Kotso.
Also, the Lodge embarked on building a new First Aid Lodge in camp to replace the one that was on the end of Gee Lodge. The Lodge finished this major project in May 2003 just before Summer Camp started. This was the final big project of the lodge prior to consolidation with Kotso Lodge to form the new Penateka Lodge.
The most time consuming project next to building the ADA restrooms and First Aid Lodge was the moving of the water coolers from the front porch of the dining hall to the back windows of the dining hall. Ceiling fans were also installed at this time to help with the cooling of the dining hall.
Under the new Penateka Lodge name, the members of the Order of the Arrow have continued to help with district and council events and make improvements at Camp Billy Gibbons.