Bickskin Lodge - History

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 and mystique.

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 Scouts.

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 ceremony".

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.


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 occurred 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.


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.

Buckskin Tab

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, elangomat or brotherhood sponsor. Lodge members receive only one Tab in their lifetime. Lodge members receive only one Tab in their lifetime. To trade or giveaway one's Tab means to forfeit it.

Buckskin Neckerchief

The Neckerchief

The 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.

The Feather

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 is worn.

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.


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 Southworth.)

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 the handbooks.

1965 Handbook1965 1969 Handbook 5th Edition - 1969

1974 Handbook7th Edition - 1974 2001 Handbook 2001

Buckskin Tab

Here are some past issues of the Lodge's newsletter. If you have additional copies to share please contact me.

Vol. 12 #4 - June, 1963
Vol. 14 #1 - September 1, 1964
Vol. 14 #2 - November 20, 1964
Vol. 14 #3 - December 14, 1964
Vol. 14 #4 - January 18, 1965
Vol. 14 #5 - March 17, 1965
Vol. 14 #6 - April 22, 1965
Vol. 14 #7 - May 1, 1965
Vol. 14 #8 - May 17, 1965
Vol. 14 #9 - June 23, 1965
Vol. 15 #1 - September 1, 1965

Where to Go

The Lodge has periodically issued "a guide to outings in Nassau, Suffolk, and the surrounding area."

1962 edition

2002 edition

More Buckskin Lodge pages