Attracting over 10,000 Arrowmen as patrons, the Goodman Edson Observatory (GEO) was one of the hotspots of the 2015 NOAC. Located centrally in the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center, the GEO was the largest exhibition of Order of the Arrow history and art ever collected.
With nearly 70 staff members and the help of an additional 500 volunteers during NOAC, the 2015 NOAC GEO
GEO was no small operation. Staff members were onsite five days before NOAC commenced to begin construction. Two years prior to that, central staff had been selected to begin planning, and the GEO began to take shape. With soil and ashes collected from Treasure Island and the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve to artwork and artifacts compiled from around the nation, the GEO culminated as an attraction that was never seen before.
One particular artifact drew special attention, the National Chief Portfolio that once contained the Chief’s Bonnet. This artifact was lost for decades, but was recovered just in time to be displayed at NOAC. This prompted visits from numerous past National Chiefs, including NAME, the first African American National Chief who had entered a note in the portfolio in the 1960s.
Upon entering the GEO, patrons were first taken into one of three theaters to watch the introductory film, NUWINGI – The Willing, a story telling of the inspiration E. Urner Goodman might have felt while keeping his Vigil Honor Fire. This film was directed by Jake Topkis and was produced onsite in the Great Salt Lake Council, with most support coming from volunteer Arrowmen.
The GEO also appeared to be a favorite of many NOAC VIPs, then-current Chief Scout Executive Wayne Brock visited the GEO daily, twice extemporaneously setting up within the GEO to welcome young Scouts to NOAC and to sign patches. BSA President and Former United States Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, accompanied by BSA National Commissioner Tico Perez and incoming Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh, also came by for nearly an hour to take in the Order’s history. Truly, most NOAC attendees could not resist the experience of the GEO.