The charter for Lodge #22 was approved on May 17, 1926 with nine new members. As plans for summer camp were unveiled in the May edition of TRAILING, the council newsletter, the scouts of the county learned that: “This year we will institute a lodge of the W.W.W., a Lenape Indian fraternity, for honor campers.” The article went on to explain that each troop would be able to select one scout for every eight it had attending camp. The new society proved to be a popular one as forty more new brothers joined the ranks of the lodge during that first summer. Under the leadership of Scout Executive and the Lodge’s first Chief, Joseph Brinton, the Chester County chapter became a firmly established part of the W.W.W.
Guided by the vision of Scout Executive Heistand, the council selected the old Reynolds property along the banks of the Octoraro Creek near Rising Sun,
Maryland as the site upon which to build the new camp. A tribute to the foresight and dedication of the council leaders of the day, the beginnings of Horseshoe Scout Reservation are as significant in the development of the lodge as they are in the growth of the council. As years passed and the camp expanded, members would come to surround the camp as completely as the muddy stream “Octoraro” from which the lodge takes its name.
As the camping season of 1928 approached, the lodge was figuring prominently in the building of the reservation. Brother Gilbert McIlvaine of Downingtown served as Camp Architect , and the mainstays of the camp staff are recognized as being among the Charter Members of the Class of 1926. Camp Director Heistand with Joe Brinton and Ben Thomas as his assistants set to work with a staff that included charter members Raymond Watson and Thomas Gillingham. With five campsites and a capacity of 160 boys, the first season proved a great success and a bright future was forecast for the camp and the lodge.
In May of 1929, Octoraro Lodge played host to a regional meeting of the Order held at Camp Horseshoe. This meeting was the equivalent of the Section Conclave of today. In the fall of the same year, the lodge undertook the establishment of a tree planting project to honor the Eagle Scouts and Adult Scouters of the County. Known today as Eagle and Scouter’s Groves , these trees stand at opposite ends of the camp athletic field in lasting tribute to the early scouts of the council.
Lodge activities continued in earnest as the thirties dawned. The year 1930 saw the lodge meet several times at camp to promote work on Eagle and Scouter’s Groves as well as other projects. The lodge’s primary camp project during these years was the construction of a camp chapel on the hillside overlooking the camp. This open air chapel, with its breathtaking view of the surrounding countryside, has been a place of inspiration for generations of Horseshoe campers.
The lodge grew slowly over the next several years as we see only 17 new brothers inducted during the summer of 1936. By the end of that year, however, 20 additional brothers were inducted, and a period of new growth was underway. Seventeen lodge members attended the National Conference that year, held at the birthplace of the Order, the Treasure Island Camp on the Delaware. In addition to a schedule of camp activities, the lodge was expanding into the social scene as well. The first lodge banquets were held during this period and they set the precedent for these events which were to become the highlight of the lodge calendar in years to come. The 1937 banquet was held on December 27, and featured as its guest speaker Joseph Brinton, first chief of Octoraro Lodge, who was then serving as National Chief of the Order.
While the year 1941 found the world at war and the young men of Chester County answering the call of the country, the year is equally significant in that is marks the arrival of a man under whose leadership Chester County and Octoraro Lodge would begin a period of continual growth and success. Louis L. Lester began his sixteen year term as Chester County’s Scout Executive by immediately establishing himself as both a leader in Scouting and in the Community. His vision and dedication to the improvement of the council and, especially, the Horseshoe Scout Reservation, moved him into an association with Octoraro Lodge which set the lodge on a course of vital growth and development from which it emerged as a vital force in the life of the council and the camp.
On September 7, 1946, the Lodge officers, degree team, and several members journeyed to Darden Scout Reservation of the Tidewater Council in Norfolk , Virginia to install and induct the charter members of Lodge 349 to be known as Blue Heron Lodge.
During 1944 a fund was created in Octoraro Lodge for the construction of a Lodge building at Camp Horseshoe. Ground was broken in 1952, and on June 20, 1959, in a gala celebration, Octoraro Memorial Lodge was dedicated by former Scout Executive Louis Lester.
Three days before Camp Horseshoe was to open for the summer 1972 season, the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Agnes shut the camp off from the world. Through herculean efforts of the lodge, after being totally inaccessible with extensive flood damage in many areas, camp opened on time and campers arrived Sunday afternoon as usual. Damage to the camp included destruction of the OA swinging bridge, built only 4 years earlier. Loss of a campsite, the pool was filled with muddy Octoraro water, the camp road nearly impassable and extensive damage to many buildings and campsites.
In June of 1974, Octoraro Lodge 22 was the host of the first Northeast Section 5A Conclave. With an all-out effort to prepare the camp for the conference, roads, bridges and buildings were repaired. The conference set the standard of excellence for the next decade. Since 1974, the members of Octoraro Lodge have given countless hours of unselfish service to the Lodge and the Camp. Octoraro Lodge has been instrumental in maintaining the buildings of the camp and in helping to build several new campsites and buildings around Camp Horseshoe. This unselfish service, to helping Camp Horseshoe become one of the best camps in the nation, has not gone unnoticed. Octoraro Lodge 22 has been recognized several times for their camp promotion efforts which speaks highly of the dedicated service of the Lodge members.
In 1976, Octoraro Lodge #22 celebrated its 50th Anniversary, and issued the famous Gold Border lodge flap which is a much sought-after issue for collectors. Octoraro also issues a 50th anniversary history book detailing the first fifty years of the lodge in photos and narratives.
After fire destroys the kitchen of the Allen Memorial Dining Hall at Camp Horseshoe in 1980, the Lodge plays a major effort in the construction of a new, modern facility. The lodge also receives its first E. Urner Goodman award, which it would receive again the following year in 1981.
Octoraro Lodge #22 hosts the Section 5A Conclave in 1983 and receives its third E. Erner Goodman Award.
The 60th anniversary celebration at Horseshoe with founder of lodge and former Scout Executive Charlie Heistand takes place in 1986. The celebration included an open house for members’ families to enjoy in the celebration.
1990 saw the lodge host the first “Handicap Camporee” (later renamed “Special Camporee”) at Camp John. H. Ware. In 1991, Octoraro Lodge #22 hosts the Section NE-4B Conclave at Camp Horseshoe, the first of two conclaves it would host for the section.
The lodge entered the telecommunications age with its own web site in 1995. Octoraro Lodge #22 is the first lodge with their own Internet domain. [octoraro.org]
The lodge hosted the Section NE-4B conclave in 1997 with the theme “Ponder the Past, Plan the Future”.
In 1999, Octoraro #22 received the E. Urner Goodman award, the only lodge at the time to get the national award for a fourth time. Matt Griffin is elected as Section NE-4B Vice Chief.
Octoraro Lodge #22 hosts the Section NE-4A Conclave at Camp Horseshoe in 2003. The theme was “Follow the Arrow, Find the Spirit”.
Octoraro Lodge #22 receives the E. Urner Goodman for the fifth time in 2008 as well as receives the National Service Award for the first time in its history. Sean Bealer is elected Section NE-6B Vice Chief. 14 members from the lodge travel to several sites as part of ArrowCorps5, the largest volunteer conservation project in U.S. history.
In 2009, Octoraro Lodge #22 hosts the first Section NE-6B Conclave at Camp Horseshoe with the theme “Test the Bow, Accept the Arrow”. Construction also begins after fundraising for a renovation of the Octoraro Lodge Memorial Building.
In 2010, Octoraro#22 receives its second National Service Award.
Octoraro #22 receives its 6th E Urner Goodman Camping Award in 2011 and celebrates its 85th Anniversary, and concludes the massive Lodge Renovation Project begun in 2006. Octoraro 22’s Jake Segal begins his term as Section Chief of Section NE-6B. The lodge sends a large contingent of brothers to Summit Corps to prepare the new Jamboree site in Mount Hope, WV.
2012 saw the lodge receive its third National Service Award, and members assist Ockanickon Scout Reservation after horrific damage from Hurricane Sandy destroyed many structures in Camp Ockanickon. The lodge also received the Gold level in the inaugural year of the Journey to Excellence program. Phil Ruffini is elected Section Secretary of Section NE-6B. The lodge begins to fundraise for the Camp Ware Dining Hall Renovation project.
In 2013, the Octoraro 22 hosted its first annual “Race to Scouting, Run with the Pack” event held at Camp John H. Ware 3rd. The event was used to promote the fun events of Scouting in an outdoor setting to Cubs and their friends. Phil Ruffini is elected Section Vice Chief of Section NE-6B.
Octoraro 22 hosted the Section NE-6B Conclave in 2014, with the theme “Arrowmen: Assemble Brotherhood”. The lodge brought approximately 150 staff together to put on an incredible show. Lodge Chief Alex Hughes was elected to be Section Chief.
2015 saw Octoraro 22 take 107 members to the 100th anniversary National Order of the Arrow Conference at Michigan State University, a NOAC that itself had 15,000 arrowmen attend from all over the country. Octoraro also hosted one of the many ArrowTour stops at Camp Horseshoe on June 24th. On October 10, 2015, 175 Arrowmen, Scouts, Scouters, Cubs and community members came out for a “Day of Service”, where approximately 900 trees were planted at 3 sites in Chester County and Delaware County. And for its efforts in 2014, Octoraro 22 won the Triple Crown – its 8th E. Urner Goodman Award, its 5th National Service Award, and its first Innovation Award, becoming only the 2nd lodge in the nation to have earned all 3 in the same year.
Today, Octoraro Lodge remains an active, working Lodge striving to uphold the high principles and traditions upon which it is founded.
More Items of Interest:
- Lodge Chiefs of Octoraro 22
- Octoraro 22 Awards
- Lodge Charters
- Conclaves and Conferences
- Lodge Patches