In the summer of 1915, only five years after the beginning of Scouting in the United States, the directors of the Treasure Island Boy Scout Camp of the Philadelphia Council realized that it would be appropriate to show recognition to those scouts who best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law. They therefore formed the Wimachtendienk, Wingolauchsik, Witahemui after a legend of the Delaware Indians. It was later to be known as the Order of the Arrow.
Progress was rapid and the organization proved so useful that many councils soon incorporated it into their programs. In 1930 the Order of the Arrow was introduced into the St. Louis Council at Irondale Scout Reservation. At first it was known as the Osage Lodge. By 1931 when the first “President” was elected it had been discovered that another lodge had the same name. The name was then changed to “Shawnee,” after the tribe that had inhabited the neighboring territory. The “thunderbird,” which means eagle, was adopted as the Lodge totem. When the St. Louis Council became of size to adopt the district system in 1939 the Lodge had a membership of about 1,000. Chapters were therefore established. At that time each member had to be 15 years of age. Because of the older registration, several socials were held each year. One such event was the crowning of the “Indian Princess.”
During the 1933 National Conference held at Owasipee Camps of the Chicago Council, the proposal was made that the Order be made a component of the National Council, Boy Scouts of America. The following year the proposal was passed. In 1938 the National Order of the Arrow Conference was held in the St. Louis Council at Irondale Scout Reservation.
Shawnee Lodge has now become one of the largest lodges in the United States. It boasts a membership of more than 4,200. Shawnee also is one of the nation’s most active lodges. In the many years of service of the Shawnee Lodge it has done countless major service projects for the Greater St. Louis Area Council. At the 1957 Banquet, the Lodge decided to sponsor the Taum Sauk and Daniel Boone Trails. The man-hours of service save our Council thousands of dollars every year.
In the early sixties, the Ordeal was taken out of summer camp and moved to the Fall Reunion in order to give Scouts more time to work on summer camp activities and give proper attention to the induction of new candidates. The Lodge began the practice of having candidates make and wear an Indian headdress.
The year 1965 marked the start of a new era of the Shawnee Lodge, with the dedication of S bar F Scout Ranch at the Fall Reunion. Camps Sakima and Famous Eagle were opened in the summer of 1966 with the generous help of the Order of the Arrow. Since then, Spring Conclaves have been held at Beaumont Scout Reservation and Fall Reunions at the S bar F Scout Ranch. In 1969 Camp Gamble was completed by the Order and it was opened in 1970.
Since 1971 Shawnee Lodge has been active in Section 5 of the North Central Region, Order of the Arrow activities. Beginning in the late 1950’s, the Shawnee Lodge has taken a leading role at National Order of the Arrow Conferences by being active in training events and national shows. In 1975, after the National Order of the Arrow Conference, Shawnee Lodge became one of the first lodges to adopt the Elangomat Clan System, with the development of the first extensive Elangomat training sessions. These have helped make this new induction enrichment program a part of the Shawnee Lodge.
In 1976 at Beaumont Scout Reservation, the first Ceremonial Seminar was held and each year has helped strengthen the Indian traditions of the Shawnee Lodge. Camp promotion has been reemphasized as one of the most important goals of the Lodge. Since 1976 Shawnee Lodge has been talking to more Scouts about summer camp than ever before. A camp promotion video highlights our camp facilities.
At the 1977 National Order of the Arrow Conference, the Shawnee Lodge LOOKOUT, our newspaper, was voted best in the nation, and clearly remains an outstanding publication. In the summer of 1978, Shawnee adopted the new pre-Ordeal ceremony which brings more meaning and symbolism to the Ordeal ceremony.
In 1987 the Shawnee Lodge initiated the Beyond Brotherhood Program which enables Brotherhood members to gain additional recognition’s for their service to the Order and their troop.
During the summer of 1999 the first Shawnee Lodge Order of the Arrow Summer Camp was held at the S bar F Scout Ranch. Scouts must be members of the Order of the Arrow in order to attend the camp. Program features included instruction on ceremonial team characters, regalia, memorization and gestures, speech, a dance Pow Wow, mountain biking, rappelling, and swimming. Order of the Arrow Summer Camps are now held each summer of a non National Order of the Arrow Conference year.
At the 2000 National Order of the Arrow Ceremony, members of our Lodge received recognition in the Pre Ordeal and Vigil competitions. At the 2002 National Order of the Arrow Conference, the Shawnee Lodge was recognized for its ceremonial teams and won the first place trophy in the soccer competitions.
Within the last several years the Lodge has conducted additional programs for its members. Dance teams and the National Day of Service are just two of the programs that are gaining momentum among members in the Lodge.
The Shawnee Lodge hosted the 2004 C-4B Section Conclave at Beaumont Scout Reservation on October 1, 2, and 3, 2004. Order of the Arrow members from eight lodges in Illinois and Missouri participated in a wide variety of training and program events.
In 2005, the Shawnee Lodge celebrated its 75th anniversary. The year was packed with a variety of activities and commemorative events. In June of 2005, The lodge held the first ever chapter versus chapter softball tournament.
On September 23-25, 2005, the Shawnee Lodge again hosted the Section Conclave at Beaumont Scout Reservation, but this time it was for the Section C-5C. Order of the Arrow members from six lodges participated in a busy weekend of fellowship, training, and competitions.
The Order of the Arrow has become the highest honor that can be attained for outstanding camping qualities. The Shawnee Lodge, your Lodge, has had a great past and is looking forward to an even greater future.