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Our History

WWW Name


Order of the Arrow Given Original Name - Wimachtendienk WW - Brotherhood of Those Who Serve Cheerfully

The original name of the OA was not Order of the Arrow. That name would not be accepted as the public name for the Order until later. The Original name selected was Wimachtendienk Wingolauchsik Witahemui or WWW and was known as 'The Wimachtendienk'. In a fascinating tale, the WWW name was not received in camp in time for the first ceremony at Treasure Island.

Local Philadelphia Scouter Horace “Shorty” Ralston was given the responsibility of developing a name for the new camp fraternity. Ralston was aware that Goodman and Edson were using Native American themes and decided that the indigenous Lenni Lenape language might be a good source for the name. Ralston located a Lenni Lenape dictionary written by Moravian monks at the Pennsylvania Historical Society. The words he selected were Brotherhood (because it was a fraternity) Cheerful and Service. In the first Unami Constitution they would translate WWW as “A Brotherhood of those who serve cheerfully”.

By the time Ralston had secured a name, summer camp at Treasure Island had already begun. With no telephones at camp in 1915 and insufficient time to mail the name by letter, Ralston decided to transmit the name to Goodman via telegraph. However, when Shorty Ralston attempted to wire the name to Goodman at Frenchtown, New Jersey the telegraph operator called his supervisor over. Together they refused to send the wire.

It seems that the Germanic roots of the Moravian monks combined with the natural diction of the Lenni Lenape language made these three long strange nearly unpronounceable words that start with a “W” appear to be a form of German. With World War I embroiling Europe and the United States being neutral at the time the telegraph company refused to send what seemed to be German code words. It is unknown if the name was known at Treasure Island prior to the conclusion of the 1915 camping season.

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