June 15, 1942 marked two beginnings for scouting in central South Carolina. One was the official opening of the new Camp Barstow at its Gaston area location. The other beginning was the chartering of Muscogee Lodge #221. Mr. J. Rucker Newbery, editor of the first OA handbook, and the degree team from Augusta, GA helped to start the lodge and preformed the first ceremonies. Interestingly, the first tap-out was conducted by Scoutmaster “Mickie” Emrie, who was not an arrowman at the time, but went on to be very supportive of the OA in its early years. The first few ceremonies were held on Old OA Mountain, behind the director’s cabin at the old camp. The lodge held its first meeting on November 20-21, 1942 and is considered as the forerunner of today’s fellowships. By 1944 Muscogee Lodge had grown large enough to finally have 50 candidates to pass their Ordeal. Also in 1944 Muscogee Lodge assisted Indian Waters’ Council President Frank Needham in making a film to promote camping at camp Barstow called, “A Day in Camp.”
After the first few years, the lodge ceremony ring was moved to a tall flat-topped rock outcropping that is today on Hidden Valley Golf Course in Gaston, SC. This site had to be abandoned in 1958 because it was not camp property. On March 14-16, 1947 Muscogee Lodge hosted the first Area Z Conclave meeting at Camp Barstow. Roscoe Stevens, who was then Scout Executive, was also the Area Z leader that year. This is probably the main reason why Muscogee Lodge was chosen to host this pioneer event. For only three dollars, the brothers of Area Z came together for this historic event.
In 1949 Muscogee Lodge issued its first patch, a five-inch round neckerchief patch, was sold along with a white silk neckerchief that was made from an old parachute. The neckerchief and patch sold, as a set, for five dollars. Because of the high cost they sold rather slowly, and were still being sold in the mid-fifties. After the issue in 1950 of a three-inch round patch of the same design as the five-inch round, National disapproved the design because of a curved arrow in the design, rather than a straight one. Also in 1950 National realigned the areas, this move dissolved Area Z and we became part of Area 6-B composed of the lodges from North and South Carolina. Muscogee Lodge set another first that year by hosting the first Area 6-B meeting at Camp Barstow.
We were not with our North Carolina friends for long, for realignment faced us again in 1953. Again we hosted the first conclave of Area 6-C, that we participated in as a member lodge. Two years later, in 1955 the lodge issued its first pocket flap which had a notch for the button and was a modification of the first patch. On April 8-10, 1960 Muscogee Lodge hosted the Area 6-C “Golden Jubilee Fellowship” at Camp Barstow. Things went on operating on a normal schedule for a few years until no conclave was held 1969, but Muscogee Lodge hosted a Regional Training Session at Camp Barstow instead. Two years later, in 1971 Muscogee Lodge hosted the Area 6-C conclave once again. We remained in Area 6-C for twenty years.
In 1973 National once again realigned the sections; when this move took place we entered into Section SE-3B, made up of lodges of South Carolina and part of North Carolina. This new section’s conclave took the nickname from the area to which many of the member lodges had previously belonged, and became known as the “Dixie Fellowship.” Beginning in the mid-seventies, there was a conscious effort to make Muscogee Lodge more active in all aspects. Prior to this time, the lodge had only been active during the summer months with one or two meetings per year as the main functions of the lodge. Also there were Father-Son banquets in December, and the lodge always participated in the conclave on the sectional level. In 1974 under Lodge Chief Chuck Bowen, the lodge tried to implement a lodge committee system. Committees had existed in the very early years of the lodge, but had long since dissolved. This attempt to renew committees did not last long; however, in the late seventies Charlie Fitzsimmons and Devadas Lynton developed the committee system, which with only a few changes is still used today. Also in 1974 Muscogee Lodge published its first “Where to go Camping Book” and had its first fellowship patch made.
A major step at making the Lodge more organized came at the 1976 Summer Fellowship where a very vague Constitution was approved. This constitution was soon replaced by a more thorough one. The earlier constitutions were also vague and short lived. Beginning with this 1976 version, the lodge has continually operated under some constitution or set of lodge rules. At the 1977 Summer Fellowship Muscogee Lodge divided into two chapters. This chapter system lasted only one year, and in 1978 the lodge was re-divided into four chapters: Ehalluchsit, Wischiki, Tschitanek Woakus, and Sukeu Sipo. Also, in the summer of 1978 Muscogee Lodge held its first OA Week, and in the summer of 1979 our first Indian Pageant was presented at OA Week.
Many changes in ceremonies and inductions occurred about this same time. Following the Brotherhood ceremony at the 1976 Summer Fellowship, aspects of the ceremonies were changed to meet the standards set by National. Before this time, parts of the ceremony that were intended to be symbolically performed, were actually performed; also during this time hazing was removed from the Ordeal induction process, this included the use of blindfolds and notch sticks. In 1977 tap-out ceremonies began being performed on Wednesday nights instead of Thursday nights as previously done for many years. In the summer of 1977 the pageant house was given to the OA since the American Heritage Pageant was no longer being performed. The next year, 1978, the legend was removed from the tap-out ceremony in order to meet the National Policy. Also that summer at NOAC Brad Hutto purchased the conference sign that now hangs in the Dining Hall and gave it to the lodge. In August of 1978 the first “Fox’s Tale,” was published, the name of which, was suggested by Staff Advisor Bill Tyson. For some years prior to this, going back at least as far as 1973, the lodge had published a newsletter called, “ The Muscogee Arrowman.” This early newsletter was published very irregularly. The introduction of the Fox’s Tale was the beginning of the regularly published newsletter. Also, in 1978 the first Lodge Officers Training Conference was held, and the Lodge Bead System was implemented.
In July 1979, Ken Allen, Eric Carr, and others made a sign near the entrance of camp, the first, “Muscogee Welcomes You.” This sign was dedicated to J. Rucker Newbery and the charter members of Muscogee Lodge Another major induction change occurred in 1979 were the change from two pre-ordeal sites to one was initiated. This was done to keep in accordance with the National guidelines. Prior to this change the Pre-Ordeal began at “Old OA Mountain,” the same place where the first ceremonies took place, and continued at a second ceremony site beyond outpost campsite T.K. Legare. The first few single-site Pre-Ordeals took place on the power lines beyond T.K. Legare.
April 18-20, 1980 Muscogee Lodge under the leadership of SE-3B Dixie Vice Chief Devadas Lynton hosted the Dixie Fellowship at Camp Barstow; the theme for the weekend was, “Kindling the Flame.” The quota was set for 35 brothers per Lodge and a total of 322 brothers attended; Bill Downs, the National Executive Secretary for the OA, was a featured guest. This Dixie was truly one that will not be forgotten, for nearly half of the delegates got sick from bad beef stew that was served on Saturday night.
Also in 1980 the first Lodge Plan Book was published and Muscogee Lodge sent the second largest delegation to the National Indian Seminar in St. Louis; the Indian Affairs and the Dance Team showed a big surge in 1979, and peaked in 1980 and 1981. Unfortunately, the younger Arrowmen did not pick up this enthusiasm, and the Dance Team began to decline rapidly, and it would fade away until the 1990’s.
In 1981 under Lodge Chief William B. O’Tuel, we again began having Lodge Banquets, and they were no longer restricted to only Fathers and sons, instead, the Arrowman’s entire family was invited to attend. Also that year, because of the increasing number of Ordeal Candidates, it became necessary to change the tap-out ceremony from an actual tap-out where the tappers memorized the candidates to be tapped, to a call-out ceremony, where the candidates’ name was called. In 1982 the sections were again realigned resulting in the loss of three North Carolina Lodges, but the return of two of our Georgia friends, Bobwhite and Tomo Chi Chi. The result was section SE-5. In December 1982, William O’Tuel, a two-term Muscogee Lodge Chief who was currently Section Chief was elected to the office of National Vice-Chief, and remains the highest National position anyone in Muscogee has ever held. In1982 under Lodge Chief Andrew Gorgey, the previous Pre-Ordeal ring was built at the old camp.
In September 1983 Muscogee Lodge hosted the SE-5 Indian Seminar again at Camp Barstow. There was a very good turn out, with 112 bothers from around section attending. Also that year Muscogee Lodge was recognized Nationally with the E. Urner Goodman Camping Award. This award is given annually to the top twelve lodges in the nation that excel in camping promotions.
Muscogee Lodge has made notable finical contributions to the camp in past years. For the past several years the lodge has given the council an annual donation of one thousand five hundred dollars. In 1983 the lodge donated five hundred dollars for the purchase of a P.A. System for the camp. Then in late 1984 the lodge donated three thousand seven hundred dollars to renovate the kitchen. At the same time that this work was being done the OA’s storage room was built on the side of the Dining Hall.
It was discovered that same year that pine beetles had infested the area around the lodge ceremony ring near campsite T.K. Legare. Once the infested trees had been removed, the ring had been so badly destroyed and the area was so desolate that rebuilding was hopeless. This upset many lodge brothers because this had been the ceremony ring since 1958, and had been used continuously since it was first built. A new site for a ring was found by Jay Folk and Tripp Clark, and work on this site began just weeks later at the Tschitanek Woakus Chapter Fellowship. The new ring was cleared and in working order by the Spring Fellowship when it was used for the Brotherhood Ceremony for the first time.
April 26-28, 1985 Muscogee Lodge, under the direction of SE-5 Dixie Vice Chief Tripp Clark, hosted the Dixie Fellowship at Camp Barstow. The theme celebrated was, “70 years in the Spirit,” this was in honor of the seventieth anniversary of the founding of the OA, and four hundred eighteen people were in attendance for this event. The following year at the 1986 Dixie Fellowship, hosted by Bob White Lodge, Muscogee Lodge gave the strongest showing that anyone can remember the lodge ever giving at a section meeting. The lodge won awards for best newsletter and planbook, and retired the ceremony plaque having won it three years in a row. The lodge placed second in the Quest for the Golden Arrow and in the lodge display competition. Muscogee Lodge also won the Norman Alston Spirit Award and was chosen as Section Honor Lodge, the top lodge in SE-5 overall. Muscogee Lodge won six of twelve competitive awards and placed second in two others.
September 19-21, 1986 Muscogee Lodge hosted the Section Indian Seminar again at Camp Barstow. Despite the small attendance of only fifty-eight brothers, there was a quality program offered. At the 1987 Dixie Fellowship hosted by Tomo Chi Chi Lodge, Muscogee Lodge was chosen as Section Honor Lodge for the second consecutive year and again dominated the ceremony competitions. On June 15, 1987 Muscogee Lodge commemorated its forty-fifth anniversary with a birthday party held at Camp Barstow. The party was a great success and was highlighted by the presents and the cutting of the birthday cake by Mr. Ralph E. Grier, a charter member of the Lodge.
In 1987 the lodge also committed itself to the task of raising fifty thousand dollars to erect a Training Conference building at Camp Barstow in memory of two-term Muscogee Lodge Chief William B. O’Tuel. In the summer of 1987 a new “Muscogee Lodge Welcomes You,” sign was erected at the entrance of Camp Barstow under the direction of Dexter Loeble with assistance from Mike Brugh, Curtis Pruitt, and others. At the 1988 Dixie Fellowship, hosted by Tsali Lodge at Camp Daniel Boone, Muscogee Lodge was selected as Section Honor Lodge for the third consecutive year thus retiring the plaque after only its third appearance. In time for the Summer Fellowship the Pre-Ordeal ring at Camp Barstow was moved. The new site selected was the same site once used for the Brotherhood Ceremonies. Also in 1988 Muscogee Lodge sent a delegation of ten Arrowmen to the 1988 NOAC at Colorado State University. At this conference, the “FOX’S TALE,” was chosen as the top newsletter in the Nation.
The 1990 Dixie Fellowship, hosted by Atta Kulla Kulla Lodge at Camp Old Indian, once again Muscogee Lodge, was awarded the Section Lodge of the Year Award, formerly known as Section Honor Lodge Award, for the fifth consecutive year. In the summer of 1990 Muscogee Lodge sent a delegation of ten Arrowmen and three staff members to the 1990 NOAC at Indiana University. Also a new lodge flap, designed by Justin Ferrick, was introduced to the lodge, and the same basic design has been kept, up to the present day. Santee Lodge, at Camp Coker held the 1991 Dixie Fellowship, and at this Fellowship Muscogee Lodge’s planbook was the top place in the section and the newsletter was second in the section. In the late spring a new council ring was built behind the first aid lodge at Camp Barstow. It was used for tap-out ceremonies for the first time at summer camp. Also in 1991 the new pre-Ordeal ring was used for the first time.
In 1993 Muscogee lodge hosted the Dixie Fellowship. This fellowship was unusual because it was held at Fort Jackson, not at Camp Barstow. The theme for the event was, “A New Beginning,” and eleven lodges were in attendance. The Dixie Vice-Chief that year was Dexter Loeble.
In 1995 Muscogee Lodge and the Indian Waters Council said goodbye to Camp Barstow in Gaston, SC only to say hello to the new Camp Barstow on the Little Saluda River. The first summer of operation for the new Camp Barstow was in 1996; however Muscogee Lodge began holding Fellowships and Ordeals at the new camp as early as August 1995. Starting at the 1997 Dixie Fellowship hosted by Unali’yi Lodge, Muscogee Lodge won the Lodge of the Year Award four consecutive times. The first was a four-way tie with Bob White Lodge, Santee Lodge, Atta Kulla Kulla Lodge, and Muscogee Lodge in 1997. Muscogee would go on to retain the Lodge of the Year in 1998, 1999, and in 2000 which brought the total number of years having won the award since its inception in 1986 to eleven. However, in 2001 Atta Kulla Kulla Lodge out did us at Dixie and took the Lodge of the Year away from us, but it was quickly regained in 2002.
The Lodge operated normally from 1997 until 2002 when the decision was made to close Camp Barstow for two years during the drawback of Lake Murray. Muscogee Lodge did have one small conflict during the summer of 2003 when the decision was made to re-divide the Chapters into five from the previous four, and it would later be named Tschitaneu Aptonagan. Over the next two years Muscogee Lodge would play a key role in giving Camp Barstow a makeover, while preparing to host the 2005 Dixie Fellowship at the Camp. Drastic changes were made at Camp Barstow and Muscogee Lodge, when not working on Camp, was out winning the Lodge of the Year for 2003 and 2004.
When 2005 finally arrived Muscogee Lodge and the Indian Waters Council were racing against time to finish the upgrades to Camp Barstow before the 2005 Dixie Fellowship, but more importantly for the re-opening of Camp Barstow for Summer Camp. The Lodge continued to work on the new and improved Council Ring, which would hold over 1,000 Arrowmen for the first time in April of 2005. Despite all of our efforts to make the 2005 Dixie Fellowship to be the best it could be; Muscogee Lodge could not win the Lodge of the Year Award due to not re-charting as a National Quality Lodge.
Working through 2005 and into 2006 things through out the Lodge would change. We would re-charter as a National Quality Lodge and later go on to win Lodge of the Year at the 2006 Dixie Fellowship hosted by Bob White Lodge. Also, during 2006 the decision was reached after much discussion to raise our Fellowship fees so that we could continue to provide more for our growing program, and an OA Week was added for the 2007 Summer Camp Season, the second attempt to bring back this event to the Lodge since it was stopped after 1989; the first attempt to revive the program was in 1998, but failed due to lack of registered to attend. Muscogee Lodge has high hopes to retain the Lodge of the Year Award as well; going into the 2007 Lodge Year as we prepare for this upcoming Dixie Fellowship hosted by Tomo Chi Chi Lodge.
2007 would be a hectic year for Muscogee Lodge, as we had two lodge chiefs. The first, Mason Thomas, went on to being elected Section Chief for SR-5 and later to become the first Southern Region Chief from Muscogee. The second Lodge Chief, Chris Browy, would take the reigns and help lead the lodge to retain the distinction of National Quality Lodge.
For the 2008 Dixie Fellowship hosted by Skyuka Lodge at Anne Springs Close Greenway in Fort Mill, SC we once again took home the coveted Lodge of the Year award and placed first in Newsletter and Webpage design. On July 26 through August 2, 2008 a delegation of eight Arrowmen were sent to the Bridger-Teton National Forest for ArrowCorps5.
At the 2009 Dixie Fellowship hosted by Eswau Huppeday Lodge at Camp Bud Schiele we won Lodge of the Year which would be the last year until 2014 when we earned it again. We also placed first in several administrative events. The same year Muscogee sent a large delegation of Arrowmen to the National Order of the Arrow Conference at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. We placed first in Ultimate Frisbee and fourth in Southern Drum and Sing.
The Dixie Fellowship in 2010 was hosted by Atta Kulla Kulla lodge at Camp Old Indian. Then Muscogee Lodge Chief, John Cuenin was elected to serve as the 2010-2011 Section Chief of Southern Region 5. Brandon Poole served for the remainder of his term as Lodge Chief.
The following summer in July 24-30, 2011, Muscogee sent 14 delegates to SummitCorps at the future site of the National Jamboree, the Summit Bechtel Family Reserve in Glen Jean, West Virginia. The next day, another contingent of 13 was sent to Indian Summer at the Ridgecrest Conference Center in Asheville, NC.
The Lodge of the Year Award was first awarded in our Section in 1986. It was originally proposed and advocated by former Muscogee Lodge Chief and National Vice Chief, William B. O’Tuel. Through the years, Muscogee Lodge is proud to have earned Lodge of the Year at the Dixie Fellowship a total of 18 times, including at the 2014 Dixie Fellowship, where we won Lodge of the Year, Section Honor Lodge, and Quest for the Golden Arrow.
The Quest for the Golden Arrow is a competition that includes several Scout skills (such as fire building, tent pitching, and knot tying) and athletic events (such as cross country and ultimate frisbee). Since 1997, Muscogee Lodge has won the Quest for the Golden Arrow 11 times at the Dixie Fellowship, including the 2015 Dixie Fellowship.
Matt Forster, our Lodge Chief in 2011-2012, went on to serve as Section Chief of the Southern Region 5 being elected at the 2013 Dixie Fellowship hosted by Unali’yi Lodge at Camp Ho Non Wah.
Until 2013, we hosted three (Spring, Summer, and Fall) ordeal weekends and three fellowship weekends at Camp Barstow. In 2013, we decided to combine the summer ordeal and fellowship weekend into one long Super Summer Fellowship weekend (Thursday through Sunday), which has been a big hit with our lodge. At the 2013 Super Summer Fellowship, we broke an attendance record with 224 brothers attending. During fellowships, our lodge completes service projects for the camp, conducts various training sessions, and has chapter competitions in a variety of Scout skills and athletic events. During the weekend, each chapter strives to earn one or more of the awards available, including Quest for the Golden Fox (Scout skills and athletic competitions, modeled after the Quest for the Golden Arrow at Dixie Fellowship), Spirit Award, and Chapter of the Fellowship Award.
At our annual banquet in January, we celebrate the accomplishments of our lodge during the past year and formally recognize our new Brotherhood and Vigil honor members. Since inception, the Muscogee Lodge has awarded the Vigil Honor to approximately 300 brothers. Other awards that we award annually includes the Founders Award, Charles Youngblood, and Ralph Grier Chapter Awards.
Muscogee Lodge has actively participated in the National Order of the Arrow Conferences throughout our history. We have sent delegations to every NOAC for at least the past 40 years, competing in many competitions, including dance, parade of braves, team singing, and ceremonies, placing nationally on several occasions. Our lodge has placed in several competitions. During the 2009 NOAC, Muscogee Lodge placed 4th in the Southern Drum and Sing. We sent a delegation of just under 40 arrowmen to the 2012 NOAC. There, Matthew Barnes placed 3rd in the Prairie Chicken Dance and his brother, Caleb Barnes, placed 4th in Southern Drum. Muscogee also had success in the Ultimate Frisbee competition, winning first place in 2009 and 2012.
For the Centennial 100 years of the OA NOAC in August 2015 at Michigan State University, we once again (this being the third time) came home as champions in Ultimate Frisbee. Caleb Barnes placed 3rd Overall in the Prairie Chicken Dance. At the Summer Fellowship later that August, we awarded eight honored Arrowmen with the Centurion Award. This once in a lifetime award was awarded to recognize those who have given outstanding youth and/or adult service to the lodge, section, region, and on the national level. Muscogee finished out the year chartering Gold in Journey to Excellence.
April 20-22, 2016, Bob White Lodge hosted the Dixie Fellowship at Knox Scout Reservation outside of Lincolnton, GA. Here we, along with the nine other lodges in our Section were placed as Section Honor Lodge. We placed first in Ultimate Frisbee as well as several American Indian Affairs events. That July, we sent a delegation of eight Arrowmen to OA Prism at the Summit Bechtel Reserve. Just a few weeks later, we sent a delegation of five Arrowmen to Indiana University for OA NEXT. Through each of these events, the participants brought back new ideas and ways for lodge improvement. We once again acheived Gold level in Journey to Excellence.
January 7th, 2017 we launched the 75th Anniversary of our lodge with our annual lodge banquet. This year we had the opportunity to host the Dixie Fellowship for the first time in over a decade. With over 100 Arrowmen in the Dixie Delegation and almost 250 Arrowmen, Scouts, and Scouters serving as host lodge staff, Dixie was a success this lodge will remember for years to come. A total of five Arrowmen served on the OA Service Corps and a total of 27 from our lodge served on staff for the 2017 National Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Reserve. Cumulatively, including all lodge events for this year, we had 30 past Lodge Chiefs, six Section or Area Chiefs from Muscogee, five other Section officers from Muscogee, one Southern Region Chief from Muscogee, and one charter member in attendance at the annual events.
Muscogee Lodge # 221 is now moving into its 76th year of existence. We are proud of our history and look forward to any challenges we may face in the future, while continuing to promote the ideals of Scouting, promote camping and responsible outdoor adventure, and to develop leaders of character.