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First BSA National Jamboree - 1937

The 1937 National Jamboree was held in Washington, DC from June 30 to July 9 with 27,232 Scouts and Scouters in attendance.

Dan Beard fired up the opening campfire with flint and steel using wood that was brought by Scouts from all 48 states. The 1935 Jamboree before it was cancelled had been planned as a “spoon-fed” Jamboree, meaning a mess-hall kind of camping. That is what was done for the 1937 Jamboree. With thousands of professional chefs available due to the great depression, the meals for each subcamp of 1,200 Scouts were prepared by professional chefs in regiment-sized kitchen tents and were delivered three times a day to the troops.

Twelfth National Lodge Meeting

Shawnee Lodge, St. Louis, Missouri at their Camp Irondale, hosted the 1938 National Meeting. Just like the 1936 National Meeting, the 1938 National Meeting was no longer handling Order of the Arrow business, with the notable exception of National Lodge officer elections. The National Executive Committee handled the business of the Order and had increased in number from three to five members plus a National Council BSA representative.

The official statistics reported at the meeting demonstrated the dramatic growth of the OA. At the time of the meeting there were 103 active lodges and for the first time over 10,000 active members and over 25,000 initiated. The OA was a nationwide growing phenomenon. A record 448 delegates attended the meeting from a record 44 lodges. After traditional reports from the national officers, the meeting broke into eight discussion groups.

Joseph Brunton

Joseph A. Brunton, Jr. (June 26, 1902 – July 8, 1988) was an Arrowmen and a career professional for the Boy Scouts of America. He served as National Lodge Chief in the Order from 1938 to 1940 and in the BSA National Council as the fourth Chief Scout Executive from 1960 to 1966.

150th Lodge Formed

On June 5th, 1939, the Order added its 150th Lodge. Nakona Lodge 150 of Lubbock, Texas had received its charter into the still rapidly growing Order.

25th Anniversary of the OA

The twenty-fifth anniversary of any organization is a time for celebration and reflection. The celebration took place at the 25th Anniversary National Meeting held at Camp Twin Echo. The delegates wore silver colored neckerchiefs. The Distinguished Service Award recognizing those individuals most responsible for leadership and service in the Order was created. From such humble beginnings Wimachtendienk has become a growing nationwide Scout phenomenon.

At the end of the first summer of OA in 1915 there were 25 Arrowmen. 25 years later the Order was active in 164 councils with an active membership of 16,000 Arrowmen. Over 37,000 Scouts and Scouters had been inducted.

Tenth Grand Lodge Meeting

After requesting to host the Grand Lodge Meeting for ten years, the OA came to Chicago, hosted by Owasippe Lodge. Included in the host Owasippe Lodge contingent were several members of the all African American Takodah Chapter making the 1933 meeting the first that can be verified to be an integrated national OA meeting.

Many of the 252 delegates from 23 lodges attending the 10th Meeting of the Grand Lodge took advantage of the opportunity to attend the Century of Progress World’s Fair (and the lower promotional train fares.) This meeting was very different than any previous Grand Lodge meeting. The rules were suspended. The normal business of officer reports, committee reports, and by-law amendments were dispensed with. Instead, the delegates gathered in a casual manner to discuss the impending issue of official recognition from the BSA.

1935 National Jamboree Cancelled

The 1935 25th Anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America, Jubilee National Jamboree was scheduled for August 21 – 30, in Washington, DC. Every registered troop in every Council was entitled to send one Scout – to fulfill President Roosevelt’s wish that,

every nook and cranny of America be represented in the Jamboree.

Berlin Olympics

The 1936 Summer Olympic Games were hosted by Germany in the capital city of Berlin. The bid was awarded to Germany in 1934, two years before the Nazis became the governing party in the country. These games mark a modernization of the Olympics and many of the sports, techniques and processes (including live television broadcasts) used at the 1936 Summer Games are still in use today.

First "National" Lodge Meeting

The OA gathered together again for a national meeting hosted for a fourth time by Unami Lodge at Treasure Island. The convention had originally been scheduled for 1935, as meetings were biannual. However, the workload created by the planned 1935 National Jamboree impacted the national officers and many leaders of the local lodges. It was decided to delay the meeting for a year. This pattern has been repeated in later years, the Order giving deference to the National Jamboree, even if it meant a three-year gap between NOAC’s instead of two.


The 1936 meeting was one of change. It no longer was a “Grand” Lodge Meeting. This was a “National” Lodge Meeting. The change in name a simple reminder of the change in the Order, now part of the BSA. The change in the program, however, was striking.

First known African American Vigil Honor

On October 24th and 25th, 1936 the Owasippe Lodge held a Fellowship Conference. The conference is remarkable for two things. The first was that Owasippe invited other lodges to attend their fellowship. Ay-Ashe Lodge from Manitowoc, Wisconsin and Tomkita Chara Lodge from Wausau, Wisconsin attended. Later, after National Chief Joseph Brinton read of the Fellowship Conference he was eager to share the concept of multi-lodge events in the National Bulletin.

The second noteworthy event of the Fellowship weekend was Emerson James was elected and kept his Vigil the night of October 24 through the morning of October 25th. In so keeping, Emerson James became the earliest known and presumptively the first African American Vigil Honor member.

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