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Our History

Rule - Only One Lodge Per Camp

Rule Created That No More Than One lodge per Camp

The Order of the Arrow’s local lodge organization was very different in 1923. The lodges were associated with their camp, not their council. Wimachtendienk after all was born a camp society. The greatest association with the council was through the Scout Executive who was the Supreme Chief of the Fire for each lodge in their council and could at his sole discretion terminate those lodges.

The rule in effect in 1923 was the number of camps in a council that had the Order determined the number of lodges possible in that council. In the early years of the Grand Lodge there were two larger councils in the Order, Philadelphia and Chicago. Most of the other lodges were from smaller councils such as the councils in Reading, Pennsylvania and Perth Amboy, New Jersey. Both Philadelphia and Chicago Councils were so large that they had more than one council camp. Philadelphia had two, Treasure Island and Camp Biddle. Chicago had five camps, Camp Dan Beard, Camp McDonald, Camp Checaugau, Camp Blackhawk and Camp James E. West. And at those five camps Edson would eventually form five lodges (Moqua, Wakay, Checaugau, Blackhawk and Garrison).

The five lodges also had the effect, whether intended or not, of granting Edson five votes at Grand Lodge Meetings at a time when there were only ten or twelve votes in total being cast.

On May 28, 1923, this topic was very much on the minds of the Grand Council when they met in Richmond, Virginia. The Grand Council was comprised of the elected officers of the Grand Lodge and their meetings were open to other members as well as other Scout professionals interested in Wimachtendienk. They typically met at professional Scouter conferences that they would be attending anyway in their vocational capacity. The Grand Council was actually sitting on several applications for the very much up and running new Chicago lodges and although they had cashed the check for the charter fees, they had not acted upon the charters.

Now word had been received that Edson intended to initiate a sixth lodge. But this sixth lodge was different than any other lodge in existence. This lodge was to be formed at Camp Belnap, the camp for the segregated African American Scouts of Chicago assigned to Douglas Division. It also meant that the Second Degree, a blood-rite at the time (that is, as a fraternity, all Brothers in Wimachtendienk were blood brothers of each other, the original meaning of being a fraternal society) would at some point be administered between different races.

The official framing of the issue by the Grand Council was that Camp Belnap was part of another camp that already had a lodge. At the 1923 Grand Lodge Meeting the ruling came down that there could only be one lodge per camp. Any decision about issues of having a segregated lodge was averted. Chicago would be denied the lodge for Camp Belnap.