Camp Belnap

John Brown

John Brown grew up in the West Woodlawn community located on the South Side of the City of Chicago and has been a lifetime leader in the BSA. Brown grew up during the time when Chicago Council was segregated and as an African American he became part of Chicago’s segregated Douglas Division when he joined the Boy Scouts in 1945. Brown earned Eagle Scout in 1949 and became a member of Owasippe Lodge in 1950. He received his Brotherhood Honor in 1964 and kept his Vigil Honor in 1972. In 1994 Brown received the OA Distinguished Service Award (DSA). He received the Silver Antelope Award in 1999 and the Founders Award from Michigamea Lodge 110 in 2007.

Takodah Chapter of Owasippe

When Carroll A. Edson became a Field Executive in 1921 in Chicago Council it was only natural that he would bring Wimachtendienk with him. Chicago in 1921 had five geographic districts and a sixth “division” that was an overlay of the entire council. This division was the Douglas Division and it was for African American Scouts. No matter where in Chicago you lived, if you were Black then you were segregated into the Douglas Division.

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.

Lawrence Branch

Lawrence Branch was an early African American leader at camp and in the Order of the Arrow in Chicago. He served at Camp Belnap, Chicago’s segregated camp and as a chapter chief for many years in the 1930s for Takodah Chapter of Owasippe Lodge. In the 1930s, the chapters in Owasippe Lodge were typically larger than most lodges. Lawrence Branch was one of the Chicago Councils leaders for Camp Promotion. He was one of seven Arrowmen that were “Wagon Bosses” for the Gold Rush camp promotion for Owasippe Scout Reservation in 1936.

Rule - Only One Lodge Per Camp

The Order of the Arrow’s local lodge organization was very different in 1923. The lodges were associated with their camp, not their council. Wimachtendienk after all was born a camp society. The greatest association with the council was through the Scout Executive who was the Supreme Chief of the Fire for each lodge in their council and could at his sole discretion terminate those lodges.

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