Richmond C. (Ric) Wilkins, retired Director of Camping for the Circle Ten Council, Dallas, Texas, and a former members of Otena Lodge, remembered the Ordeals held at Camp Billy Gibbons during the late fifties. They were real challenges both for the new candidates as well as the Summer Camp Staff and OA members who came to camp on Thursday evenings to put on the Ordeal.

This was one of the first Ceremonial Teams in Otena Lodge.  Photo taken in the 1950's.

Left to Right: Allen Pritchard, Jon Wall, Dabney Kennedy, O. E. Weinbrenner, Brian Healer, James Smith and Larry Hamilton

"Following the Indian dances at the OA Ring, Allowat Sakima and Meteu would walk around the ring and tell the Scouts that many were called but few were chosen. The Scouts were instructed that if their name was called they were to remove their shirt and report to Allowat Sakima at the base of the flaming arrow. He would then tap him on the shoulder followed by Meteu. Nutiket would paint a red arrow on his left arm and Kitchinet would place a wreath make of willow around his neck.

"The candidates were instructed to go get their sleeping bags and report to the camp gate at a certain hour. When all gathered at the gate they were led blindfolded with a rope placed in their right hand. They were led around camp for some forty-five minutes before arriving at the site of the Pre-Ordeal Ceremony located at the creek just outside the camp gate.

"Following the ceremony, they were given a sack with one egg, a slice of bread, a slice of bacon, and two matches. The candidate was then instructed to build a fire on which to burn his wreath and to meditate on what Scouting meant to him. He was to keep the fire coals going long enough to cook his breakfast on a flat rock the next morning. The candidate was then instructed to go down to Brady Creek following breakfast and take a bath being careful not to remove the arrow from his left arm. They then reported to the dining hall to work around the camp.

"They were given a banana and some crackers for lunch but received a good supper that evening. When it became dark they were put back on the rope and blindfolded to be led to the Ordeal site. Following the Ordeal Ceremony the new members were welcomed by their fellow Arrowmen and returned to the dinning hall for a cracker barrel and fellowship."

In 1972, the Ordeals were changed from being held during summer camp each week to one Ordeal on the weekend of July 7-9, 1972. The reasons given by Stanley Walker, Jr., Lodge Chief, in a letter to the members in June, were that "other scouts in camp interfered, candidates were working on other Scouting activities such as merit badges, and the lodge couldn't have a truly great time."

The photo to the right shows a typical Pre-Ordeal Ceremony team.  This photo was taken at the ceremony competition held in 1994 at the Area II Conclave at Ft. Hood, Texas.

Left to Right:  Michael Beach, Stephenville; Bradley Maples, Lampasas; Perry A. "Butch" Wakefield, Jr., Stephenville; and Aleck Griffin, Comanche.

Since that year, the Ordeal weekend has been held after summer camp, usually the following week or later in July. Ordeal ceremonies were held in the fall and spring to catch those candidates who could not attend the summer ordeal.

The ceremonies had changed over the years due to women being inducted into the Order of the Arrow. Scouts no longer took off their shirts.  A red arrow is painted on their foreheads with a magic marker.  They no longer took a bath in Brady Creek. They came back to camp at another weekend for the Pre-Ordeal and Ordeal ceremonies.  They were not blindfolded, but they still placed their right hand on a rope and were led around camp to the Pre-Ordeal Ceremony site 

This photo shows one of the Ordeal Ceremony teams with The Legend ascribed to Chingachgook, the Chief of the Delawares. Picture taken at the Section II OA Conclave Ceremony Competition at Ft. Hood, TX in 1993.

Left to Right: Bryan Oakes, Stephenville; Michael Beach, Stephenville; Cody Stephens, Stephenville; Michael Denison, Brownwood

They did labor the next morning, following breakfast of a hard boil egg and bread. They received usually a sandwich for lunch and worked around camp again that afternoon. They were given time to take a shower and change into their Scout uniform before being served a large supper that evening.  When it got dark they were led to the Ordeal site, again holding onto a rope.  Following the ceremony, they returned to the dining hall where they were presented with their OA Handbook, and Ordeal patch and membership card. A cracker barrel and fellowship completed the evening of celebration of their completion of their ordeal..

Ordeal Induction weekends are still held at Camp Billy Gibbons by the Penateka Lodge of the Texas Trails Council.  The Black Arrow Chapter plays a major roll in the ceremonies and serving as host to the Lodge at camp.

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