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Pick and Choose
“I don’t know what I should do, Dad.”
“You have another hour til the callout ceremony.”
“But what should I do? I still don’t know if I want to join the Order.”
“Well like Austin told you still pack a bag just in case.”
My Dad and I emerged out of the disgusting puke green spider riddled tent and went off to celebrate family day at Scout Camp. Family Day is when families from all the troops come up from home and have dinner with their boys. Soon enough after talking with people and having dinner the march to the ceremony was starting. Drums being struck with wooden mallets could be heard all throughout the camp. Those drums were our cue to lineup in front of our camp site to be taken to the ceremony.
Closer and closer it got, with the drum being heard louder and louder each time it was struck. We quickly lined up by rank and filed in with the other scouts and their families to be led to the ceremony. The smell of smoke strengthened as we approached.
We entered the ceremonial bowl and could feel the heat from the enormous fire.The ceremony bowl is where every troop in the camp gathers for performances on the first day, Wednesday, and the last day. Everybody filed in and sat down. This night was different from all of the rest. Usually there were counselors running around doing skits and cracking jokes, but tonight it was quiet except for the man covered in animal skin banging a drum in a rhythmic pattern.
As ceremony commenced, another man in animal skin began to speak.
“Welcome,” he said “to the Order of the Arrow callout ceremony! The Order of the Arrow is based off of cheerful service.” He went on explaining what the Order is about and brought out his brothers out to talk about what it meant to them. Then he called the eldest brother, who arrived in a canoe docking against the shore next to the bowl. He called them together and said to the audience.
“You may begin the callout!”
Names coming from the people sitting on the top of the bowl began to bounce around the bowl. Whenever a name was called a person stood up with a feather in hand and said a name. One name after the next until I heard my name.
I shot up from where I was sitting and looked at the brothers who were tapping out the members who were called out. I was really scared, there was one in particular that I did not want tapping me out. He was in a bearskin and looked extremely serious. But despite my dislike for him, he came over and hit me on the shoulder 3 times and told me to walk down to the middle of the bowl. I slowly walked down to the center and sat down. “Now,” the eldest brother said “These are your new Ordeal members. They will be lead into the forest to take their Oath of silence and fasting along with spending the night.”
We were lead to the waterfront in front of the entire audience and lead away along the shore with the murmur of the audience and our families behind us. The lapping of the waves against the shore of the lake created a calming scene. Our group stopped in front of the Lake Britton canoe, located about 400 yards from where the ceremonial bowl was. The brother leading us said “You have 10 minutes to take what you need to spend the night.”
I ran as fast as I could back to the campsite. Up the Takachsin Lodge House broken stairs and through the paths back to our campsite, Ottawa. So fast, I ran out of breath once I reached my tent. I quickly snatched my previously packed back and ran back. After all the other scouts arrived from their respective campsites. Next, we were lead to the Winds ceremony where we got our North, South, East, and West wind beads.
We were guided to the bog next, where other previous members of the Order waited. Each previous member was holding a candle to show those called out where to stand. We gathered into a circle and waited for everyone to file in. There was an eeriness set by the darkness contrasting with the candles along with the four brothers standing quietly in the center of the circle. The youngest brother began speaking.
“If you opt out of your fellow scouts choosing you may do so now. But If you would like to go through with these trials you may do so by pulling this bowstring back. That will seal your membership into the Order of the Arrow.”
He shot an arrow into the night and started going around the circle allowing for each ordeal member to pull back the bowstring. The bow finally made it’s way around to me. The brother who gave me the bow was the one who tapped me out. He looked at me and gave me a soul stealing gaze. I pulled back the bowstring and handed it back to him. Once the bow made it’s full way around the circle we were brought into an open field.
“This will be your sleeping place for tonight stay at least ten feet away from anyone this is a time to reflect.” The group of elingomats said. Elingomats were our guides to the work, to get us the little food we got, and make sure we weren’t talking. I laid out my sleeping bag in the wet grass and crawled in. It was a clear night and you could see the stars from the heavens above. My watch beeped and said it was midnight. I tried to sleep but there was a bug that kept flying into my sleeping bag. After I finally killed the bug I was able to sleep.
We woke up the next morning to the elingomats shaking us and telling us to wake up. Next, we were taken to the Order of the Arrow lodge to eat breakfast. It consisted of a plain muffin and an apple. The reason why we got so little food was because of realizing how much we had. I looked through the brush next to the lodge and saw my friend, Noah Kelly prancing through the paths to set up breakfast at the dining hall. After our breakfast we were brought to Charlie Brown’s house, the headquarters of Gerber Scout Reservation. Our elingomat, Jack spoke to Charlie,
“So what are we doing today?”
“Your group,” Charlie Brown answered “is staining the rifle range and archery range. Once you are finished with that come back and I will give you another task.”
We walked a half a mile to the shooting range with paint buckets and brushes in hand. The sun beat down on us like God hitting a bottle of sun. The stain was brown and we used at least 5 buckets of stain to cover the benches at the rifle range. After we finished with benches we walked over to the archery range and stained the guard rails. By the time we finished it was time for lunch. Our lunch was made up of a leftover bagel from the non-ordealees breakfast and another apple. We began to walk back to the headquarters of camp.
Upon arrival at headquarters, Charlie gave us wheelbarrows, buckets, and shovels to add resand the takachsin lodge house stairs i climbed the day earlier. My feet hurt from hauling stain buckets and wheelbarrows back and forth. We shoveled sand from the waterfront into buckets and up the stairs. One of the kids in my group had a broken arm. He burst out in silent tears as we were shoveling and threw off his arm brace. The silence between all of us was peaceful but scary.
It took us the whole day to finish both tasks. Our elingomat said we could return to our camp and we would meet up after dinner. We took our separate ways and walked back to our campsites. I once again entered the disgusting puke green spider riddled tent and laid down in my bed. Noah Kelly burst into the tent along with my dad.
“What did you do?” Noah asked curiously “Shoot, you can’t answer that uhhhhh.”
For every question he asked it had to be a yes or no question.
“Did you paint?” I gave him a head nod
“Do you have to leave again?” Another head nod
I was bombarded with so many questions by my scout friends for so long it was time for dinner.
We walked to the dining hall as a troop with me,the only scout selected for the order in our troop still in silence. After lowering the flags off of the flagpoles we were let in for dinner. Finally, I thought to myself an actual meal!
I was sat at a table with two people on each side of the dining table Adam Charbonneau, Connor Kramers, JD Kirk, Lucas Jenner, my dad, Mr Kelly, and Noah Kelly were the people who made up this table. About halfway through dinner Adam and Connor both sat up to go get salad. Connor came back with a salad while Adam came back with a plate of croutons.
“Adam,” Connor asked “Could you give me some of your croutons?”
“No these are my croutons.” Adam answered
“But you took the last ones.”
“Yeah, I did!”
“SHUT UP!” I shouted at them. Then I realized my mistake.
The whole table went quiet and I quickly sat up and went to the bathroom. I ran into the stall and locked the door. Oh Sh$@! I just broke my silence what’s going to happen now? Am I going to be kicked out? I thought. I pulled myself together, exited the bathroom, and sat down. Silence still engulfed the table and I continued eating like nothing happened.
One of the counselors stood up on the stage and said “All Ordealees please come outside and lineup into your proper lines.” I sat up and walked out of the dining hall and saw my elingomat waiting. Being the first one there it was awkward standing there waiting for the others. Once everyone had arrived we walked back past the ecology shelter and up to a big fort up on the hill. The group of elingomats gave us a preschool safety rope. They let us up the hill to the entrance of the fort. The fort was built with dark brown wood pillars. The group of elingomats at the front told us to wait. The youngest brother from the night before guarded the entrance.
“ Brothers,” he asked “Who are these who want to enter our Circle?”
They said “These are the new members of the order of the arrow.”
“If you really are members of the order of the arrow please recite the password into my ear.”
Each of them whispered the password into his ear.
“You may enter our Circle go on to the next brother.” He said
We continued around the circle until we made a semi circle around the fire. The fire was so hot that you could feel the heat from the outer edge of the circle. The Four Brothers began to talk amongst themselves. They thought that the group, OUR group, was not worthy. But the group of elingomats that we were with, proved that we were by telling them what we all did throughout the day. The oldest of the four said to the audience that we were a worthy group of Ordealees. He went around the circle giving us each the OA handshake and the password to access the fort. Once the brother finished we were given our sashes. The sash had a white background with a red arrow on it pointing to the sky. Then the 4 Brothers stop acting seriously. They began to walk around the circle shaking everybody's hands and told the audience to do the same.
“You are released from your vow of silence.” The youngest brother said
Then came a whirlwind of chatter going around the semicircle. I turned to my troop and quickly turned back around to hear,
“Hey, lets take a picture of our arrowmen of 2015!”
This is how croutons may be a mistake and how good things come from hard work.