Scouting provides numerous opportunities to grow leadership skills through a program based in youth-run units. Through this principle, Scouts can foster their leadership abilities on the local level and beyond their own councils. Some Scouts, however, take their leadership to the next level.
Catie Simpson, a Vigil Honor member and James E. West Award recipient of Woa Cholena Lodge has given immense service to the Order of the Arrow since her induction. She has shown true leadership through service, from serving as the Section E4 chief to the 2022 National Order of the Arrow Conference as the conference vice chief of Adventure Central.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Catie and discuss her leadership and service to our organization in more detail. You can watch the full interview here or read the transcript below.
Talk to your lodge chief today to register for NOAC 2024 and experience Adventure Central for yourself!
Paige Morgan: Hello everyone. My name is Paige Morgan. I’m an Arrowman from Lowwapaneu Lodge, and today we are joined by Catie Simpson, a Vigil Honor member of Woa Cholena Lodge, inducted in the fall of 2019, who served as the 2021-2022 Section E4 chief, as well as the 2022 conference vice chief for Adventure Central at the 2022 National Order of the Arrow Conference. Hi, Catie.
Catie Simpson: Hi. It’s so good to be here. Thank you for having me.
Paige Morgan: Catie, can you tell me a little bit about your journey of leadership and what brought you to where you are today? Your lodge leadership and into your section leadership?
Catie Simpson: Joining, I was really, really eager to get involved in leadership locally. I ended up getting my first leadership position as lodge treasurer two months after my induction, which I will admit was a little bit scary. Not knowing what you’re doing or what the organization is fully about and jumping headfirst into a leadership position can be a real challenge, but I feel like it was one of the areas where I had the most growth as a leader. When you’re faced with a lot of responsibility in that regard, you get to take stock and be grateful for the opportunity you have in the first place. The transition from lodge to section was obviously a challenge, but I really enjoyed my work at the section. I met people from other areas in my lodge and my section that I honestly didn’t really have a lot of communication with previously. I consider my section work to be some of the most rewarding work I got to do throughout my time in Scouting.
Paige Morgan: You got to run conclave as section chief; tell me about some of the fun you got to do with that.
Catie Simpson: Conclave is so fun. If you ever have the opportunity to go to a conclave, if there’s ever a conclave happening within driving distance, go to it. It doesn’t even matter if it’s your own conclave. I love conclave. I’ve attended other people’s. My favorite part about running it was getting the opportunity to speak at the Very Important Arrowmen luncheon. Public speaking can be a lot of fun, but it can always be a little bit stressful. Getting the opportunity to challenge myself that way but also get to inspire the next generation of leaders in my local area was really exciting. It would be remiss if I didn’t mention how much fun the Founder’s Festival is every year.
Paige Morgan: Can you tell me a little bit about how each of these leadership positions were different and what kind of experiences you’ve gained from each of these positions?
Catie Simpson: Lodge treasurer is mainly focused on designing patches and selling things, you know, it’s very lodge finance-based. It was kind of a really interesting way for me to understand the actual inner workings of a lodge and how national can support its program through the sales of those things. That was interesting. And then getting to be involved in the section was probably the most enlightening experience I’ve had with my leadership. I absolutely loved being section secretary; that was my favorite job I ever did. I got to run the section social media, as well as the website, and I just had a lot of fun being able to be the one in charge of that. Then, obviously, as section chief, you’re running conclave. You’re part of the list of people who help elect the next national officers, so lots of responsibility there. Really an amazing experience getting to be involved nationally in the program of emphasis.
Paige Morgan: You got to serve in all these different roles, and you outlined what each of them done, but why were you motivated to become a leader in the first place?
Catie Simpson: It’s an interesting story. My brother was a section chief before I was, and he was really, really passionate about the program. I will admit, I did decide to do it because I wanted to see if I could achieve what he achieved in the program, but I grew to love the experiences that I had in the organization. The OA became my own relationship, rather than just an extension of my brother’s.
Paige Morgan: What kind of experiences were you granted as a result of your leadership in the Order of the Arrow? What kind of things did you get to do?
Catie Simpson: As I mentioned earlier, I had the opportunity getting to meet people from all across the country and elect the national officers for my year. But I also had a lot of opportunities, like NOAC [National Order of the Arrow Conference], where I got to meet people from all over the country. I got to provide experiences for people. One of the things that I consider to be the biggest highlights that has been an offshoot of my other leadership journeys has been the the National Leadership Seminar [NLS]. It’s given me an opportunity to make an impact in ways I never thought possible.
Paige Morgan: What was the most meaningful or you favorite experience you got to have?
Catie Simpson: I would say my favorite thing that I’ve gotten to do so far was all of the National Leadership Seminar. Each course is so different. Obviously, we got to staff it together, and it was really fun to get to know you and all the other staff members, as well. It’s been rewarding to meet so many different people and have an impact on their Scouting journey. I recently attended the National Jamboree and I got to run into a couple of my participants from previous courses. They told me it was an impactful moment and made them seek higher positions, and it made me really proud.
Paige Morgan: Catie, tell me a little bit about why you choose to staff the National Leadership Seminar?
Catie Simpson: I’m really passionate about what the National Leadership Seminar meant to me going through the program. As I got older and I got involved on staff, it was a unique opportunity for me to connect with people from all across my region. I was lucky enough to be one of the first women to be prevalent on staff, and now we’re so lucky to have so many talented women on staff. One of the first things that I really remember about that was getting to see the change in facial expression, and the change and the acceptance that so many women felt by having a woman on staff and by having somebody who looked like them and reflected them teach them about being a better leader and teach them about core values and things that are important in this organization.
Paige Morgan: Out of all of the National Leadership Seminar courses you have staffed, did you have a favorite moment?
Catie Simpson: I was lucky enough to teach and facilitate for two different women at two different courses. I actually ran into both of them later on at the jamboree. Sometimes, you don’t see the weight of your work until you’re not there anymore. I was lucky enough to get to talk a little bit with them and get an update on their leadership journeys. They told me that my words of advice and my leadership at the National Leadership Seminar inspired them to become more involved, and it really meant a lot to me.
Paige Morgan: Can you tell be a little bit about your service to the 2022 National Order of the Arrow Conference, and what that experience was like for you?
Catie Simpson: It was a wonderful experience. Not only did I get to work with some of my closest friends in putting together that experience, but I also got to understand more about how you put on a program of that size and how you’re able to make these impactful experiences for Arrowmen across the nation.
Paige Morgan: What was the biggest challenge throughout NOAC — in planning NOAC — and how did you overcome it?
Catie Simpson: The biggest challenge was definitely making sure that we kept everyone safe. My program area is mostly high adventure-based, so you’re doing some pretty risky stuff. You have to make sure that you’re taking note of all that stuff. You’re making sure that you do it in the safest manner, as well as, you know, coming out of COVID and making sure that we balanced being able to keep everybody safe, while allowing people to have a lot of fun and escape this solitude and quarantine we were living in for two years prior.
Paige Morgan: What was your number one part of your program area that you enjoyed planning and participating in the most?
Catie Simpson: Definitely the helicopter landing, and I know that that’s kind of a weird one. We did so many amazing programs. We had programs where people got to mountain bike and canoe across the Tennessee River, which is so cool. I just really enjoyed getting to see the looks on people’s faces, getting to watch people go up, and take pictures of the helicopter. Getting to talk with people and see the connections they maybe had to the Coast Guard or this is the first time they’ve ever seen something this cool. It’s definitely a really awesome experience to get to see those younger Scouts get to enjoy things like that.
Paige Morgan: Why should Arrowmen consider attending NOAC in 2024 at the University of Colorado Boulder?
Catie Simpson: It’s an experience like no other. You get the opportunity to do so many amazing things that wouldn’t otherwise be available. Where else are you going to see a helicopter land? Where else are you going to go up in the sunsphere at U.T.K. [University of Tennessee-Knoxville]? Where else are you going to be able to learn and train in the morning and then, in the afternoon, you get to go scuba diving? I also met some of the people that I’m closest to now. I mean, we met at the National Order of the Arrow Conference, and I got to see so many people from all across the country, meet each other who are still in communication now, and it’s just amazing.
Paige Morgan: Our whole theme for this publication is “Leadership in Service.” Tell me a little bit about what leadership in service means to you?
Catie Simpson: Leadership in service really means to me that you look at a more personalized way of being able to relate to people and you give them the opportunity to tell their journey to you and you’re able to relate that back to yourself and create common ground and really provide the best service because you know them personally and you know what will be the most impactful to them.
Paige Morgan: How have you been able to give back through mentorship in the OA?
Catie Simpson: I view my role on the National Leadership Seminar as a way to give back, and I’m definitely more looking towards getting involved as an adviser once I do turn 21. So a little bit of getting involved in conclave, getting involved with my lodge, and being able to transition into being a leader and mentor as an adult, rather than being the one who is necessarily hands-on, is something I’m looking forward to.
Paige Morgan: For my last question I have here, what kind of advice do you have as an experienced Arrowman, would you give to someone who was just their start out in our organization?
Catie Simpson: Make the memories. I know it sounds so cliche, but I genuinely wish that I had enjoyed every moment that I had in this organization more. I turn 21 in January. I don’t have much longer being a youth in the organization, so obviously, I’m pretty sentimental about the time I’ve had as a youth, because you’re not able to get that experience any other way. I would say, take the pictures and make the memories, because there’s nothing quite like it.
Paige Morgan: That is all I have in questions. Thank you so much, Catie. I appreciate you being here
Catie Simpson: Thank you all for having me.