An old friend from the Boy scouts dropped me a line on wednesday asking if I was free this weekend to help out at the Order of the Arrow service weekend and ordeal this past weekend. For anyone who doesn’t know, the Order of the Arrow is the honor society of the Boy Scouts, committed to cheerful service. Most of its workings are shrouded in secrecy (which is why we sometimes jokingly call it the “Cult of E. Urner Goodman”, the founder), but the basics are that every year we hold our spring service weekend at camp Read in the Adirondacks, about an hour north of Albany, and at the same time conduct the induction ceremonies for the new members. Having nothing better to do than drive four hours into the wilderness to work my ass off for people I haven’t seen in 2 years, I made the trip up.
If you’ve taken a glance at my resume, you’ll probably notice that I spend 2 years at CSR as a camp counselor. What isn’t noted is the 2 years I spent there as a camper, which were some of the more memorable weeks of he year for me. I had very fond memories of Daby’s, the local general store in Brant Lake, the way Glens Falls looked, even the New Baltimore rest area, the midway stopping point of every trip we took up to the camp. and in the 2 years I’ve been at college, everything has changed. The general store is now gone, Glens Falls looks much more modern, and the Roy rodgers we all looked forward to (our last bit of junk food before eating camp food for the rest of the summer) is now a Quiznos.
The people had changed too, but mostly for the better. The Carlson clan seemed to be in charge, with Rob carlson as advisor still, and his son as Ordeal master (head of the weekend). Unfortunately, it seemed that in the years since the departure of the Dream Team of ceremonies, things had taken a worse in my old niche. An integral part of the inductions were the ceremonies, with intricate scripting, hidden meanings in every action, and a message that was supposed to be loud and clear to the inductees. The ceremonies chairman position rotated from me to Nate when I became Vice Chief, and in that time we conducted the finest ceremonies this area had ever seen. Everyone memorized the entire ceremony, not just their own parts, and could fill in at a moment’s notice. But when I arrived on Friday evening, I found the ceremonies team behind the dining hall, practicing like they had never seen the script. I immediately jumped in and started coaching them, and throughout the entire weekend substituted for the actual chairman, who fancied himself an Ordeal master and was nowhere to be found. I was able to salvage the ceremonies for the most part, but the final ceremony of the Ordeal was the absolute worst either me or Nate have ever seen, with the principles skipping an entire 2/3 of the script and starting the show with 5 solid minutes of silence while they tried to remember their lines.
Despite the hard work and abysmal ceremonies performance, the weekend was exactly what I needed: an escape from my computers and a weekend without technology.