Here's a history of the lodge, reprinted from
the booklet issued for the 10th Annual Conclave, 1982. It also appeared in
Scouting Collectors Quarterly, Vol. 17, No.4.
Our Lodge - Steeped in a Rich Tradition
by James W. Evans, Jr.
To fully appreciate and understand the meaning of Brotherhood in Buckskin
Lodge, it may be helpful to trace the beginnings of cheerful and humble
service in Nassau County Council, B.S.A. The heritage of the lodge
significantly predates the start of the Order of the Arrow in the council.
The symbols, their meanings, and those traditions which help bind all
members together in a life of service to Scouting and ultimately our
fellow man, come from a society forgotten by all but a few, The Buckskin
Sons of Wauwepex. The members are fortunate that their traditions have
such deep roots, they provided a firm foundation for the principles of the
Order of the Arrow. Establishing Buckskin Lodge 412 was essential to
making unselfish service a permanent part of the Scouting program in
Nassau County. It fulfilled all of the visions of the Buckskin Sons of
Wauwepex and its founders.
Our Heritage - The Buckskin Sons of Wauwepex
The Buckskins of Camp Wauwepex was born in 1923 as part of the camp Indian
lore program. Founded by "Chief" Howard Covey and Irving "Southy"
Southworth, it was not a society as we know the Order today; it was
designed to provide opportunities for Scouts sincerely interested in the
American Indian. To be a member, a Scout was to have been a three-year
camper and first class. The organization took its name from Dan Beard's
Buckskin Men and helped promote advancement by making the earning of merit
badges a requirement in order to obtain additional feathers for a member's
bonnet. The Buckskins had not yet realized the potential of their group to
promote the high ideals of cheerfulness and service.
During the early 1920's many Scout Councils sought to develop
organizations to recognize the outstanding Scout campers. Some affiliated
with Wimachtendienk W.W., later known as the Order of the Arrow, while
others started their own societies with local membership prerequisites.
The Order was not yet recognized as an official American Scouting
institution, only experimental. Consistent with the national trend, the
camp's Indian lore program at Camp Wauwepex was abandoned and one to honor
Scout campers was put in its place. The Indian based foundation was
retained, however, to give the new Buckskin Sons of Wauwepex its character
The Buckskin Sons' development of ceremonies, traditions
and ideas consistent with those of the Order of the Arrow was not
accidental. both Covey and Southworth had been inducted into the Order at
one of its national meetings. During the 1930's the Sons became an
integral part of the council camping program, serving Wauwepex and her
On June 2, 1934, the Order of the Arrow was officially approved by the
National Council as an institution of the Boy Scouts of America to honor
Scout campers. With this historic event came speculation that The Buckskin
Son's would seek affiliation with the Arrowmen. Such was not to be. It was
not until 1948 that the idea of merging with the national organization was
seriously discussed. A committee of dedicated Sons was selected to meet
with the Order's national secretary. The parallel growth of the two
service organizations made the transition easy; the national secretary
agreed that "inasmuch as our Ordeal was similar to that of the Order
we could become the Buckskin Lodge after going through an initiation
Preserving our most cherished traditions and yet binding us into a
national brotherhood of honor campers, Buckskin Lodge #412, Order of the
Arrow, became a reality on September 3, 1949. Twenty-four Sons were
inducted in ceremonies at the Area 2-A Conclave held at Camp Manhattan, Ten
Mile River Scout Camps. The Tap-Out was presented by the Ranachqua Lodge
of the Bronx and Shu-Shu-Gah Lodge of Brooklyn presented the pre-Ordeal.
Man-A-Hattan Lodge of Manhattan conducted the Ordeal ceremony. Bob Hayes
was our first Lodge Chief from September 1949 to September 1950.
BUCKSKIN LODGE -- SERVICE AND DEVOTION
The years since the Sons' passage into the
Order have been a shining light of "service and devotion to the welfare of others". To list the accomplishments of our lodge and those devoted arrowmen who gave of themselves unselfishly would make this narrative unwieldy in length. Suffice it to say that Camp Wauwepex and Onteora Scout Reservation have had the dedicated service of lodge arrowmen both in promoting the camp program and laboring to improve and protect their facilities.
In turn, the camps have historically supported the Order both at summer camp and on fellowship weekends. The camp administration has provided ceremonial rings for all Buckskin Lodge rituals. The habitual and continual use of these areas has enriched lodge traditions. The arrowman who stands in the Stone Ring at Wauwepex or at Wildcat Falls at Onteora and remembers his first pre-ordeal renews his strength of purpose.
A highlight of lodge history occured in 1965; reminiscent of our own affiliation with the Order, our arrowmen were called upon to conduct the
premier ordeal of the Arawak Lodge in the Virgin Islands.
OUR TOTEMS AND SYMBOLS -
REMINDERS OF HUMILITY, AND SERVICE AND SELF-RELIANCE
The totem and emblems of The
Buckskin Lodge hold meaning only for members in Nassau County. Our lodge
is regarded with much respect because of its symbols and the rich
tradition they represent.
The Tab - Our Totem
The totem of the Buckskin Sons of Wauwepex,
the Tab, is still worn by lodge arrowmen today. It is the official emblem
of our lodge, consisting of a white buckskin (older members) or leather
"tear drop" upon which is drawn a pine tree. The tree points of
the tree represent the qualities of trustworthiness, service and
self-reliance. The wolf, whose head profile is superimposed on the
drawing, also exemplifies self-reliance.
Tradition urges brothers to have the back of their Tab signed by fellow
arrowmen for whom they hold esteem and respect. Often this may be one who
has helped them follow the path of the arrow - perhaps a guide, taskmaster,
or brotherhood sponsor. Lodge members receive only one Tab in their
Lodge members receive only one
Tab in their lifetime. To trade or giveaway one's Tab means to forfeit it.
Buckskin Sons wore a royal blue neckerchief with a white stripe bisecting
the triangle vertically; it represented humble service. Superimposing the
red arrow pointing over the right shoulder made the traditional
neckerchief official for Buckskin Lodge, Order of the Arrow. Buckskin
brothers receive only one neckerchief in their lifetime; therefore, it
becomes a cherished item in the arrowmen's OA wardrobe.
Tradition tells us that special neckerchiefs were once made for those
attending National Order of the Arrow Conferences. One half was always
gray and the other was a different color for each meeting. The white
stripe and arrow remained constant.
A single white squaw feather was worn by Buckskin Sons at special camp
functions. As the squaw of an Indian tribe served without recognition, so
the white feather served to remind the brother of his obligation to serve
with humility. The Lodge Chief approves the functions at which the feather
Pocket Flap and Other Emblems
While most brothers wear our pocket flap, it is not the
official emblem of Buckskin Lodge. Therefore, it is the item available for
and most often
traded to brothers from other lodges. With the
exception of our Tab and neckerchief, our lodge permits brothers to
exchange Buckskin Lodge emblems with arrowmen of other councils.
BUCKSKIN LODGE -- ITS FUTURE
A time of trial and testing for our lodge
occurred in the 1970's when the problems of the world overshadowed the simple, but important, principles of cheerful service. Forgetting the instruction of our admonition, members allowed Buckskin Lodge to move into a period of virtual
non-existence. Yet the ideals of our order applied at the local level establishes the foundation for selfless service and devotion to our country and our world. These principles, no matter how idealistic, serve to promote the aims of scouting -- citizenship training, character building, and physical fitness.
A few Buckskin arrowmen understood the timeless character of the Order's ideals; with their guidance we weathered the problems of the seventies.
As the future unfolds and writes new history, let us as members of the Brotherhood of Cheerful Service remember the words of Meteu traditionally spoken at the end of Buckskin tap-out and ordeal proceedings:
"Thus to keep you brave and cheerful, thus to keep you true and faithful, to yourselves and to your brothers and unto the God who made you."
(Portions of the history of the Buckskin Sons of Wauwepex paraphrased from the original manuscript by Irving
For more information on
the history of Buckskin Lodge, including details on the past Lodge
Chiefs and the main events of their terms of service, click on
5th Edition - 1969
7th Edition - 1974
Here are some past issues of the Lodge's
- Vol. 12 #4 - June,
- Vol. 14 #1 - September
- Vol. 14 #2 - November
- Vol. 14 #3 - December
- Vol. 14 #4 - January
- Vol. 14 #5 - March 17,
- Vol. 14 #6 - April 22,
- Vol. 14 #7 - May 1,
- Vol. 14 #8 - May 17,
- Vol. 14 #9 - June 23,
- Vol. 15 #1 - September
Where to Go - a
1962 guide to outings in Nassau, Suffolk and the surrounding area.
Patches issued by
National Order of the
Arrow Conferences (NOAC) and regional event patches issued by Buckskin
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