First created in 2012 by the Southern Region Committee, the "We Support Camping Award" is designed to recognize lodges who go the extra mile to promote campership in their councils. There are two sets of requirements for a lodge to earn this award. The lodge must complete all of the following:
- Provide funding to the council for two (2) camperships for summer camp
- Encourage active lodge members to serve on summer camp staff
- Complete Scout Executive-approved service project(s) on a BSA camp property
- Utilize chapters (or camping promotion committee if the lodge does not have chapters) to conduct council-wide camp promotions to troops and teams
- Organize an Order of the Arrow Service Corps for council/district outdoor activities
The lodge must select and complete three of the following requirements:
- Provide an OA Camp Coordinator for summer camp
- Provide leaders and guides to council high adventure activities
- Provide camping instructors & staff to council and district training venues
- Develop an OA Indian Village at summer camp
- Publish or update a "Where To Go Camping Guide"
- Help with the identification and recruitment of potential summer camp unit leaders
- Encourage active lodge members to serve on fall or winter camp staff
Timothy Brown, a member of Kawida Lodge in the Blue Grass Council, serves as the lead adviser for council camping support on the Southern Region Committee and was responsible for the creation of this award. "The very first year I thought we were going to have forty or fifty lodges. Dr. Flatt was the Southern Region Chairman at the time and said 'we'd be lucky if we got fifteen.' We received fourteen. I was a little overambitious; but we kept promoting it." Brown worked hard to learn what worked and what didn’t from the first year in order to ensure that more lodges could be recognized for the hard work they do to promote campership in their councils. "My job now is to shepherd it, to make sure it keeps on going," Brown says.
The award continued to be improved to this day. Last year, the Southern Region found that many lodges had a hard time turning the award petitions in, so an online form was created to help ease the submission process. Recently, the award requirements have been modified in order to better fulfill requirements for the 'E. Urner Goodman Camping Award', an award serving to encourage lodges to work closely with their councils to promote camping. The E. Urner Goodman Camping Award can be earned by two lodges per region each year.
The hard work to improve the Southern Region "We Support Camping" Award has really paid off. "This past year we had a record number of thirty-two lodges receive the award, a dozen of them it was their first time. So we've had over a hundred awards given out over the five years. A lot of lodges are repeat recipients," Brown said. Since its inception in 2013, forty-nine different lodges have received it, for a total of one hundred and two awards issued. Recipients of the award receive a wood engraved plaque to acknowledge their hard work. Occoneechee, Shenshapotoo, Ittawamba and the Kawida lodges have been recipients of the award all five years. Brown shares, "we know that a lot of lodges are completing the criteria. We want to encourage lodges to keep note of what they’re doing to support campership and we want to recognize them publicly for it."