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First Ceremony

There is no written copy of the ritual used for induction of members into the Order throughout the 1915 Treasure Island camping season.

In 1965 the Unami Lodge released a copy of a ceremony purported to be the first ceremony. However, after discussions with Arrowmen active in the Lodge in 1965 and with the 1975 Lodge Chief, Phil Hittner, it is clear that the “first ceremony” released was a composite of later ceremonies and editorial license was taken based on what was believed to have happened. Factually the following is known:

- Robert Craig and Gilpin Allen were the first two inductees on July 16, 1915.

- E. Urner Goodman was the Chief of the Fire and wore a black robe similar to a graduation gown. He had a white triangular badge on his robe with a black tortoise superimposed on the white triangle.

- Carroll Edson was Sachem and wore a black robe, the same style as Goodman, with a while tortoise shaped badge on his chest.

- Harry A. Yoder, a camp staffer guided the entire camp to the new campfire circle. He was the only camper who knew where the campfire circle was because he had helped construct it earlier in the day with Goodman. Yoder was not a ceremonialist for the First Ceremony.

- The two Scouts who were to be inducted wore a black sash. Stories share that the black sash could have had a simple white strip length-wise superimposed on the sash OR a white arrow superimposed on the sash. No original black sashes are known to exist.

The exact words spoken at the First Ceremony are not known, but some of the actions have been reported. Harry A. Yoder reported that there were two tests that each pledge/candidate was asked to complete.

The early candidates were handed a bundle of sticks and told to break it. After each had tried and failed, the Chief took the bundle and separating the sticks broke them one at a time with ease.

As a second lesson each scout was told to encircle a large tree with his arms. After each had tried and failed they were instructed to join hands and thus encircle the tree.

George W. Chapman, the first Chief of the Wimachtendienk, recalls the actions in the first ceremony in his unpublished manuscript The Arrow and the Vigil as follows:

Unfortunately, no written records were preserved of the original ceremony of induction. Urner Goodman recalls the three steps, or parts, of the original ceremony to be as follows:

1. An attempt on the part of each candidate to individually encircle with outstretched arms the trunk of a large tree, followed by a joint encircling of the same tree by the candidate and one of the officers of the Council Fire. In the first instance it was, of course, not possible for the candidate to reach around the tree. For two persons, it was a comparatively simple matter. This demonstrated Brotherhood.

2. The candidate was directed to make an endeavor to scale an elevation, adjacent to the Council Fire, unaided. Failing, he was then assisted by one of the officers of the Council Fire and with his help he was able to scale the elevation. This demonstrated the principle of Service.

3. The candidate was given a bundle of small dry twigs and told to place them on the Council Fire. When he did this the twigs caught fire readily and blazed up brightly. This demonstrated Cheerfulness.

E. Urner Goodman was asked by Horace Kern in 1925 on the 10th Anniversary of the Wimachtendienk to share his memories about the first ceremony in 1915. Goodman’s memory of the first ceremony was as follows:

The ritual was rather simple to start; indeed it can hardly be signified by the use of that term. The first Council fire, however, was accomplished with a great deal of dignity and Mr. Edson, who had much of the speaking part to carry through, used most solemn tones in so doing. In the early sessions part of the Ritual of the Camp Council fire consisted in what was termed, open initiation of the candidates for the Order. The several boys initiated each week were put through three steps in public before the entire camp Council fire but the meaning of those steps were not divulged until a later gathering that same evening with the boys. As I remember them the three steps were illustrative of the three stages of the Order and consisted of:

1. Attempting to encircle a trunk of a tree by each scout individually with outstretched arms followed by a joint encircling of the same tree by a candidate and one of the officers of the Council Fire. In the first instance it was, of course, not possible for the Scout to touch hands around the tree – for the two persons it was comparatively a simple matter. (Brotherhood)

2. A candidate was directed to make an endeavor to scale an elevation adjacent to the Council fire unaided. He then was assisted by one of the officers of the Council fire and he was able to scale. (Service)

3. My recollection of the third step is somewhat faulty. Perhaps I am wrong but I seem to remember that the candidate was expected to place a stick upon the Council fire thus making it burn more brightly while illustrating cheerfulness in his own countenance. (Cheerfulness)

Because there are no written copies of the ceremonies and no eyewitnesses remaining, it is difficult to know which memory is most accurate, however the concepts and feel of that First Ceremony is evident.

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Harry Yoder

In the early part of July 1915, Mr. E. Urner Goodman, enlisted my aid in clearing what is today the ceremonial grounds of the Unami Lodge, on Treasure Island. Armed with an axe and a rake we prospected through the dense brush which covered the lower half of the Island, for a likely location and finally selected the present site.

The first ceremony took place on July 16, 1915. It was a great day for Treasure Island. It was my good fortune to act as guide and guardian of the trail on this auspicious occasion. The Scouts were gathered at dark around the flagpole and after being admonished to preserve silence were formed in a single file and led down by a circuitous route to the Council Fire.

---- Excerpted from a Harry A. Yoder article in Philadelphia Council Annual Report

Harry A. Yoder was one of the youth staff at Treasure Island in 1915. He was a trusted Scout who E. Urner Goodman enlisted to help him prepare the new Council Fire for the summer camp.

While Yoder was not considered a ceremonial team member in 1915, he was asked to be the guard and guide of the trail that led to the Council Fire because he was the only staff person who knew where it was located on the island.

Yoder was not inducted into the Wimachtendienk until the last week of camp in 1915. He met with his new brothers at Camp Morrell in November 1915 and was appointed the Chairman of the Membership Committee. In June 1916, his committee presented a report on membership in the Wimachtendienk and defined charter membership.

Yoder signed on as a charter member and remained active in the Wimachtendienk for a number of years. He was Unami Lodge Chief 1920-21. He was the fifth Third Degree member (Vigil) in the Wimachtendienk in 1921. As an adult Harry A. Yoder served as an Assistant Scoutmaster in Troop 3, Philadelphia.

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Treasure Island Ceremonial Grounds

George Chapman shared in his writings the following:

“Shortly after camp opened, Urner Goodman had explored Treasure Island in order to select the most appropriate place for the location of the Council Fire. He selected a site in the south woods of the island, far removed from the ordinary activities of the camp, and Edson agreed with him that it would be an ideal spot.

It was considerably off the beaten path on even a small 50-acre island and because of its location was an excellent site. How well Urner Goodman selected the site may be judged from the fact that the location of the Treasure Island Council Fire has never been changed.

The site chosen was a natural amphitheatre formed by a ravine in dense woods. For some natural reason there was a clearing here with sloping ground on one side which was to serve as a seating place for the spectators.

On the afternoon of the first induction Urner Goodman and Harry A. Yoder, by means of almost superhuman effort, were able to get the selected site cleared of brush, an altar built, and a path cut through the thick underbrush from the camp to the site.

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W. D. Boyce

William D. Boyce was an American businessman and millionaire who owned numerous newspapers in the United States and Canada as well as a publishing company. In the early 1900s, he started to focus more on philanthropic projects than on business matters. It was during this time, as he was traveling around the world, that legend has it he was shown his way in London by an unknown Scout. The story goes on that the Scout refused gratuity, merely doing his duty as a Scout. The Scout is said to have then directed Boyce to the Scout headquarters.

We do know that Boyce did indeed go to Scout headquarters where Boyce picked up a copy of Scouting for Boys and other documents. Reading these books, he expressed interest in bringing Scouting to America and was given permission to use the British manual. More popular versions of this story have Boyce being guided by the unknown Scout after getting lost in the fog, and meeting Baden-Powell personally.

Boyce incorporated the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) on February 8, 1910. Boyce financially contributed to the BSA and appointed a permanent executive to run the organization. Boyce believed very much in the outdoor activities of the BSA and felt they were necessary and important to develop leadership and responsibility in boys, especially those boys who grew up in the cities, thus turning them into men. In 1915, Boyce created the Lone Scouts of America for Scouts who might not be able to participate in troops, which later integrated with the BSA in 1924. Boyce is also notable for having funded the organization and turning its ownership over to the executive board.

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Goodman Influenced - Story of Billy Clark

When the Treasure Island staff planned the first induction, Urner Goodman had one Scout in mind as the model of cheerful service he wanted for its members - Billy Clark.  Billy was a member of Philadelphia's Troop 1, led by Scoutmaster Goodman and is listed in their records as an “Assistant Scribe.” Years later Goodman described a troop campout at Treasure Island.

One time during our stay there, one of our charges came with a minor sickness. There was no medicine, no hospital on the island at all. So he had to stay in his tent and he had to be taken care of. Billy volunteered to be our live-in nurse for the two or three days he had to be there. And he did a good job of it.

Came to a crisis however the next morning. It had rained during the night. Now, there is a vessel used in hospitals they call a bedpan.  And it was time to take that thing to the latrine and Billy, of course, cheerfully took on the assigned visit. However, in going from the tent to the latrine he had a little upset. It was the wrong kind of bath, to be put lightly. But Billy got up smiling from it all, if you can imagine. Now that's the picture of cheerful service.


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Woodcraft Indians

It would help bring together young people from various so-called stations, break down the barriers that society has foolishly placed upon them, and establish in their minds when they are young a finer kind of humanity, a real understanding that the important thing is the association of a human spirit.

--- from Ernest Thompson Seton about his development of the League of Woodcraft Indians

The League of Woodcraft Indians was an American youth program, established by Ernest Thompson Seton. It was later renamed the "Woodcraft League of America". The program was also utilized overseas, and many of these overseas programs still exist today.

In the United States, the first Woodcraft "Tribe" was established in 1902 at Cos Cob, Connecticut. Seton's property had been vandalized several times by a group of boys from the local school. Seton thought over his options and decided that sugar might be better than vinegar. So he invited the boys over to his property for a weekend. Surprised and a little apprehensive the boys came. Seton, the great storyteller that he was, regaled the boys stories about Native Americans and nature.

The result of his weekend was a group of boys who became interested in nature and Native American customs and traditions. The unique feature of his program was that the boys elected their own leaders: a "Chief," a "Second Chief", a "Keeper of the Tally" and a "Keeper of the Wampum."

Encouraged by the boys’ response and a dream of broadening his program to other communities, Seton wrote a series of seven articles for Ladies' Home Journal from May to November 1902 under the heading "Seton's Boys." Those articles later were published under the name Birch Bark Roll.

Looking for people interested in his outdoor organization. Seton traveled to England in 1906 to meet with Lord Robert Baden-Powell. He gave Baden-Powell a copy of the Birch Bark Roll. Seton and Baden-Powell bonded around the concept of a program for youth. In 1908, Seton received a letter from Baden-Powell stating that he was going ahead with his vision for Scouting, using as a base Seton’s program. Baden-Powell wrote Scouting for Boys and incorporated many of Seton’s ideas, honors and games into his book.

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