Raymond C. Petit was born December 31, 1943 and inducted into the Order of the Arrow in March 1959 in a ceremony that was read from the books and with a neighbor boy who shot at the “Indians.” One year later, Ray organized a team and that year’s new candidates participated in the first Ordeal Ceremony in Ump Quah lodge performed entirely from memory. In the fall of 1961, Ray was elected vice chief of the lodge and continued his emphasis on high quality ceremonies as well as the experience of the Ordeal itself.
Ray became a freshman at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the fall of 1962 and organized an Order of the Arrow service project within the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) chapter there, inspired in part by his trips to meet with Martin Mockford, the OA National Executive Secretary, at the national office in New Jersey, and with Dr. Goodman at his home in Bondville, Vermont.
Among the MIT APO Scouting Service Exchange (SSE) projects were: The Handbook for Ceremony Teams, The OA Election Ceremony, a monthly ceremonies and induction newsletter titled The Gischachsummen (one who enlightens), and the Customs and Traditions of the Ordeal.
During Ray’s Vigil induction, on July 3, 1965, he wrote the first drafts of what are now the Spirit of the Arrow booklets. In June 1969, the MIT APO SSE group ceased operations, and became the official “Ceremonial Advisory Group” to the National Order of the Arrow subcommittee on Ceremonies with Ray Petit as its founder, and chair.
At the 1971 NOAC Ray Petit was the adviser to a Jay Dunbar, Deputy Conference Vice Chief (DCVC) of Training. Together they created a “Training Show” titled “The Spirit of the Arrow” which introduced the Spirit of the Arrow booklets as an official program of the OA, and urged high quality performance of ceremonies, with no hazing during the Ordeal.
Ray authored the portion of the Ordeal Ceremony that foreshadows the tests of the Brotherhood Ceremony. At the 1975 NOAC, Ray was one of several CAG advisors to a youth-run, Two-Day IEP (Inductions Enrichment Program) that introduced the Ten Induction Principles, the Elangomat Ordeal System, and other innovations to the Order of the Arrow.
In 1977, Ray resigned from the CAG. He later invented Clover, a data exchange system for amateur (HAM) radio, and authored Walking the Ordeal Trail: A Pattern for a Life Well Lived emphasizing the value of self-imposed tests of silence, sacrifice, aloneness and cheerful-service. Ray attended one last NOAC in 1994 as a guest of the Inductions and Ceremony Evaluations committee, prior to his untimely death from brain cancer on June 13, 1999. A tribute to Ray's impact, by Jay Dunbar, was included in Volume 8, Issue 1 (Spring 2015) edition of the Silver Arrowhead newsletter.