During the summer of 1915, Dr. E. Urner Goodman, Camp Director of the Philadelphia Council's Treasure Island Camp, desired to find some means of definite recognition for those scouts who had best lived up to the spirit of the Scout Oath and Law. From this desire, and from the rich Native American traditions of the area, Dr. Goodman and his assistant, Carroll A. Edson, developed that we know now as the Order of the Arrow. The organization grew slowly during the next few years, but as the 1920's began, the small camp honor society of 1915 had taken hold in several nearby councils.
In 1924, Charles M. Heistand, then Scout Executive of the Chester County Council, B.S.A., wrote to the National Chief for information on the new organization then known as the "Wimachtendienk" or "Brotherhood." He had become interested in the program through Mr. Horace Kern, Scout Executive of the Philadelphia Council at that time. "Chief" Heistand's interest in the organization became an integral part of his planning for the 1926 summer camping season at Rothrock, the council's camp in the South Mountains of Cumberland County.
In preparation for the camp season, the charter for Lodge #22 was approved on May 17, 1926 and a nucleus of nine new members were given their induction by founder Goodman. This group was given both the First (Ordeal) and Second (Brotherhood) Degrees at this ceremony which took place at Hilldale, a weekend campsite of the council, located along the banks of the Brandywine in the western part of the county. Six of these nine charter members were to recieve the Vigil Honor before the decade was out and several went on to hold national positions in the Order and in Scouting. "Chief" Heistand continued in Scouting as a Scout Executive, Regional Executive, National Program Director, and Assistaint Chief Scout Executive as well as serving for many years on the National Order of the Arrow Committee.
As plans for summer camp were unveiled in the May edition of TRAILING, the council newsletter, the scouts of the county learned that: "This year we will institute a lodge of the W.W.W., a Lenape Indian fraternity, for honor campers." The article went on to explain that each troop would be able to select one scout for every eight it had attending camp. The new society proved to be a popular one as forty more new brothers joined the ranks of the lodge during that first summer. Under the leadship of Scout Executive Heistand and the Lodge's first Chief, Joseph Brinton, the Chester County chapter became a firmly established part of the W.W.W. In November of the same year, a delegation of Chester County brothers journeyed to the Reading-Berks County Council Camp at Indiandale for a meeting of the Grand Lodge, the forerunner of today's National Conference.
Little is known of lodge activities of the next two years although it is evident, in light of continued achievement of the Vigil Honor by Lodge 22 members, that the lodge continued to develop during this period. The primary focus of the council's activities during these years was the selection of a new council camp, an event that would provide the young lodge with a home, a name and a focal point for its service.
Guided by the vision of Scout Executive Heistand, the council selected the old Reynolds property along the banks of the Octoraro Creek near Rising Sun, Maryland as the site upon which to build the new camp. A tribute to the foresight and dedication of the council leaders of the day, the beginnings of Horseshoe Scout Reservation are as significant in the development of the lodge as they are in the growth of the council. As years passed and the camp expanded, members would come to surround the camp as completely as the muddy stream "Octoraro" from which the lodge takes its name.
Purchased in the early 1800's for $300 in sheep and dried peaches, the property became the home and family farm of Samuel Reynolds and three generations of his offspring. Much of the heavily wooded land was cleared for use as farm and pasture land. During their 100 years on the land, the Reynolds family left many monuments. Their family home, the "White House." was used, after a brief occupation by bootleggers and assorted shady characters, as the Headquarters building and infirmary for the scout camp, while the barn and carriage shed provided the foundations for the Kindness Center and Browning Lodge, respectively.
Following crop failures and an aborted attempt to divert the Octoraro through a tunnel under Flagpole Hill, the land passed to a mining company, whose discovery of several low grade ores, including gold, sparkled intrest in the area. The problems of extracting the ore, however, soon put an end to the venture.
Located and identified as a possible campsite by the Philadelphia Council, the area was passed over as being too far from council headquarters to be a practical council camp. On a bright Saturday morning in 1927, however, the Camping Committee of the Chester County Council, with several brothers of the Wimachtendienk among them, traveled the old wagon road over Goat Hill to view the property and, shortly thereafter, purchased the site for development as the new council camp. A new camp was required to replace Rothrock, a victim of encroachment by various resort communities.
As the camping season of 1928 approached, the lodge was figuring prominently in the building of the reservation. Brother Gilbert McIlvaine of Downingtown served as Camp Architect, and the mainstays of the camp staff are recognized as being among the Charter Members of the Class of 1926. Camp Director Heistand with Joe Brinton and Ben Thomas as his assistants set to work with a staff that included charter members Raymond Watson and Thomas Gillingham. With five campsites and a capacity of 160 boys, the first season proved a great success and a bright future was forecast for the camp and the lodge.
During 1929, the procedures of lodge organization became standardized. Regular meetings, both throughout the county and at camp, were held for the planning of activities. The slate of officers was decided upon: The Lodge Chief, Senior Vice Chief, Junior Vice Chief, Lodge Recorder, Guardian of the Trail, Deputy Guardian, and Chaplain. This system of two vice chiefs, which fell into disuse in the Thirties, was destined to be revived in 1969.
In May of 1929, Octoraro Lodge played host to a regional meeting of the Order held at Camp Horseshoe. This meeting was the equivalent of the Section Conclave of today. In the fall of the same year, the lodge undertook the establishment of a tree planting project to honor the Eagle Scouts and Adult Scouters of the County. Known today as Eagle and Scouter's Groves, these trees stand at opposite ends of the camp athletic field in lasting tribute to the early scouts of the council.
Continuing its tradition of participation in national affairs, the delegation of Scout Executive Price, Lodge Chief Donald Hughes, Vice Chief Ray Watson, and Ben Thomas attended the 1929 Grand Lodge Meeting held in Philadelphia at the end of October.
Lodge activities continued in earnest as the thirties dawned. The year 1930 saw the lodge meet several times at camp to promote work on Eagle and Scouter's Groves as well as other projects. The lodge's primary camp project during these years was the construction of a camp chapel on the hillside overlooking the camp. This open air chapel, with its breathtaking view of the surrounding countryside, has been a place of inspiration for generations of Horseshoe campers. The final meeting 1930 was a ceremonial weenend at camp held in late December. At this meeting, eleven of the lodge membership were elevated to the Brotherhood Degree and four more were nominated for the Vigil Honor.
The lodge grew slowly over the next several years as we see only 17 new brothers inducted during the summer of 1936. By the end of that year, however, 20 additional brothers were inducted, and a period of new growth was underway. Seventeen lodge members attended the National Conference that year, held at the birthplace of the Order, the Treasure Island Camp on the Delaware. In addition to a schedule of camp activities, the lodge was expanding into the social scene as well. The first lodge banquets were held during this period and they set the precedent for these events which were to become the highlight of the lodge calendar in years to come. The 1937 banquet was held on December 27, and featured as its guest speaker Joseph Brinton, first chief of Octoraro Lodge, who was then serving as National Chief of the Order.
While the year 1941 found the world at war and the young men of Chester County answering the call of the country, the year is equally significant in that is marks the arrival of a man under whose leadership Chester County and Octoraro Lodge would begin a period of continual growth and success. Louis L. Lester began his sixteen year term as Chester County's Scout Executive by immediately establishing himself as both a leader in Scouting and in the Community. His vision and dedication to the improvement of the council and, especially, the Horseshoe Scout Reservation, moved him into an association with Octoraro Lodge which set the lodge on a course of vital growth and development from which it emerged as a vital force in the life of the council and the camp.
On September 7, 1946, the Lodge officers, degree team, and several members journeyed to Darden Scout Reservation of the Tidewater Council in Norfolk, Virginia to install and induct the charter members of Lodge 349 to be known as Blue Heron Lodge.
During 1944 a fund was created in Octoraro Lodge for the construction of a Lodge building at Camp Horseshoe. Ground was broken in 1952, and on June 20, 1959, in a gala celebration, Octoraro Memorial Lodge was dedicated by former Scout Executive Louis Lester.
Three days before Camp Horseshoe was to open for the summer 1972 season, the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Agnes shut the camp off from the world. Through herculean efforts of the lodge, after being totally inaccessible with extensive flood damage in many areas, camp opened on time and campers arrived Sunday afternoon as usual. Damage to the camp included destruction of the OA swinging bridge, built only 4 years earlier. Loss of a campsite, the pool was filled with muddy Octoraro water, the camp road nearly impassable and extensive damage to many buildings and campsites.
In June of 1974, Octoraro Lodge 22 was the host of the first Northeast Section 5A Conclave. With an all-out effort to prepare the camp for the conference, roads, bridges and buildings were repaired. The conference set the standard of excellence for the next decade.
Since 1974, the members of Octoraro Lodge have given countless hours of unselfish service to the Lodge and the Camp. Octoraro Lodge has been instrumental in maintaining the buildings of the camp and in helping to build several new campsites and buildings around Camp Horseshoe. This unselfish service, to helping Camp Horseshoe become one of the best camps in the nation, has not gone unnoticed. Octoraro Lodge 22 has been recognized several times for their camp promotion efforts which speaks highly of the dedicated service of the Lodge members.
Today, Octoraro Lodge remains an active, working Lodge striving to uphold the high principles and traditions upon which it is founded.
Some brief, History Highlights:
1976 - Octoraro Lodge #22 celebrates its 50th Anniversary, and issues the famous Gold Border lodge flap, which easily fetches $200+ at lodge patch auctions.
1980 - After fire destroys the kitchen of the Allen Memorial Dining Hall at Camp Horseshoe, the Lodge plays a major effort in the construction of a new, modern facility.
1983 - Octoraro Lodge #22 hosts the Section 5A Conclave.
1980, 1981, 1983 - Octoraro #22 recieves the E. Urner Goodman award, the only lodge to ever get the national award three times.
1986 - 60th anniversary celebration at Horseshoe with founder of lodge and former Scout Executive Charlie Heistand.
1991 - Octoraro Lodge #22 hosts the Section NE-4B Conclave at Camp Horseshoe.
1995 - Octoraro enters
the telecommunications age with it's own web site. Octoraro #22 is the
first lodge with their own Internet domain.
Wulamoc - Online Services - Patch Collection - Vigil Honor