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.
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.