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Lodge History

Unami Lodge, One and the Order of the Arrow were founded at Treasure Island Camp in the summer of 1915 by E. Urner Goodman - the camp director - and Carroll A. Edson - the associate camp director in charge of the commissary - to recognize campers and staff members for dedication and service beyond the responsibilities of their positions of responsibility. Originally known as the Wimachtendienk Society, and later as the Wimachtendienk W.W. (translated in the original Unami Constitution as “a Brotherhood of those who serve cheerfully”), the organization was to be based on the traditions of the Delaware Indians. On July 16, 1915, Robert Craig and Gilpin Allen were inducted as the first members of the Wimachtendienk; by the end of the summer, twenty-five members had been inducted, including Goodman and Edson. At the end of the summer, Goodman was recognized by the other members of the society with what we today consider to be the first Vigil Honor and was given the Indian name Nuwingi, interpreted as The Willing.

At several meetings of the Wimachtendienk that autumn, the arrow and turtle were formally adopted as symbols of the society, and George Chapman was elected as the first chief for the year 1916. By 1921, the first lodge of the Wimachtendienk was formally known as Unami 1, and other lodges have been formed in: Trenton, NJ (Trenton [later Sanhican] 2); Richmond, VA (Pamunkey 3); the Bronx, NY (Ranachqua 4); Reading, PA (Minsi 5); Uniontown, PA (Umpah 6); and Chicago, IL (Owasippe 7). A second Philadelphia Council lodge - Unalachtigo 8 - was established at Camp Biddle, the council’s camp for Lone Scouts, in 1921. Unalachtigo and its members were absorbed by Unami with the closing of Camp Biddle in 1924. Unami 1 hosted a meeting of these lodges at the Philadelphia Scout Headquarters and Treasure Island Camp in 1921. At this meeting, a Grand Lodge was formed, with Goodman being elected to serve as the first Grand Chieftain. During this period of growth, the members of Unami Lodge 1 made improvements at Treasure Island Camp, including the financing and construction of the Unami Lodge house.

At the 1927 Grand Lodge meeting, Goodman suggested the public name of the society be changed from Wimachtendienk W.W. to an English name more easily understood by non-members; from that point forward, the Wimachtendienk W.W. would be publicly known as the Order of the Arrow. In 1930, the Philadelphia Council opened a new camp in Montgomery County, PA, called Hart Scout Reservation. In 1935, in order to increase the presence of Unami Lodge 1 at the camp, members of the lodge renovated an old farmhouse to serve as Hart’s Unami Lodge house. In 1934, the Order of the Arrow became an officially approved experimental program of the Boy Scouts of America, along with several other camp honor societies. During this period Unami Lodge briefly changed its name to Unami Tribe due to the Masonic connotations of the term lodge, but the change lasted for less than a year. Unami hosted area meetings and conferences in commemoration of the thirtieth and fortieth anniversaries of its founding in 1945 and 1955, respectively. At the 1940 National Lodge Meeting at Camp Twin Echo, E. Urner Goodman and Carroll A. Edson were among the first eleven members of the OA to be recognized with a new award, the National Distinguished Service Award. Also recognized at that meeting were Thomas G. Cairns, William N. Hinkle, and Joseph N. Pattison. Inaugural lodge chief George W. Chapman was recognized with the award in 1948. Lodge members spent much of 1956 rebuilding Treasure Island Camp following a devastating flood in 1955 that inundated the entire Island and damaged many of the building. In 1956, the Philadelphia and Valley Forge Councils created a federation which opened a new Scouting property in the Pocono Mountains, Resica Falls Scout Reservation, consisting of three separate camps. The federation dissolved in the mid-1960s, though Unami Lodge 1 members would return to Resica Falls in the mid-1990s. The lodge funded and constructed new ceremonial grounds at Camp Hart in 1962, and beginning in 1963, all lodge officers and committee chairman were required to be under the age of twenty-one for the first time, in compliance with national OA policy.

Unami Lodge 1 celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 1965 by hosting the Area III-A Conference at Treasure Island, with Goodman, Edson, and National OA Committee Chairman George Feil in attendance. A rededication ceremony was held in the original ceremonial grounds, and a new stone podium with a bronze commemorative plaque was built to mark the occasion. The lodge and its members were also involved in the late 1960s and early 1970s with the development of Eagle Island Camp - located just north of Treasure Island on Marshall’s Island - including the creation of new ceremonial grounds. The lodge celebrated its sixtieth anniversary in 1975 at Treasure Island, including a visit by Dr. Goodman, which was likely the final time that the Founder visited Treasure Island. The last Unami Lodge 1 event featuring our Founder was the 1979 Annual Dinner. Dr. E. Urner Goodman died on March 13, 1980 and was buried in Penny Farms, FL, where he had moved in retirement. Later that year, Unami hosted its sixty-fifth anniversary celebration at Treasure Island, with special guests that included Dr. Goodman’s widow, Louis, and his son, Ted.

In 1983, the lodge hosted the Treasure Island Encampment, an event designed to coincide with that year’s National Order of the Arrow Conference hosted at Rutgers University. Under the leadership of Michael Coyne, the lodge booked the camp for the full duration of the conference, running bus trips from New Brunswick to Pipersville. Nearly 2500 Arrowmen - including the entire national OA committee - visited the Island during the event and were able to experience “Treasure Island, Birthplace of Our Tradition.” On October 25, 1986, Carroll A. Edson died. The death of the Co-Founder marked the end of an era for Unami Lodge 1, as it was now without its Founder, Co-Founder, or any influential early members of the Wimachtendienk W.W. for the first time in its seventy-one year history. In 1988, the Philadelphia Council and Unami Lodge 1 celebrated the seventy-fifth anniversary of Treasure Island, which included a visit from William “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt, a Vigil Honor member of the lodge. Unami Lodge 1 celebrated its seventy-fifth anniversary in 1990 by hosting the second Section NE-4B conclave - with the theme “Our Proud Tradition is the Future” - at Treasure Island Camp, having also hosted the first Section NE-4B conclave at Resica Falls Scout Reservation the previous year. The lodge also hosted a special anniversary celebration at Treasure Island in July. At that year’s NOAC, 1986 lodge chief Mark J. Chilutti was recognized with the Order’s national Distinguished Service Award. In 1995, the lodge celebrated its eightieth anniversary, as well as sponsoring a contingent of lodge members (known as the Tough Turtle Trekkers) to attend a trek at Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, NM.

In 1995 - after extensive studies and years of discussions of how to better serve the Scouting and youth populations of the greater Philadelphia are - the executive boards of the Philadelphia and Valley Forge Councils voted to consolidate the two councils via a merger. The new council, to be known as the Cradle of Liberty Council, would begin operations on January 1, 1996. The new council found itself in possession of four Scout camps and reservations, two council service centers, and - most importantly - two lodges. Per national Order of the Arrow policy, each council may only charter one OA lodge, requiring a merger of Unami 1 and Delmont 43, the lodge chartered by the former Valley Forge Council. A committee of six youth leaders from the two lodges was created, and its members oversaw a contentious merger that required making a number of difficult decisions, not the least of which was what the merged lodge should be called. The youth ultimately decided to retain the name, number, and turtle totem of Unami Lodge 1, and the merger became effective on September 1, 1996. The first chief of the new Unami Lodge was Jeremy Detwiler, formerly of Delmont Lodge 43, and the executive vice chief was Brian Hoffman, formerly of Unami Lodge 1. The first adviser of the new Unami Lodge was Dave Fortunato. Dave helped to oversee the merger and ensure that it was effectively carried out, but soon passed away from complications of cancer. The Lodge Executive Committee then established an award in Dave’s honor, to be known as the David Fortunato Outstanding Service Award, following a tradition of Delmont Lodge 43, which had presented similar awards named after Gerhard H. Bonas and Emrys D. Nuneville, respectively. The lodge also hosted Curtis Zunigha - Chief of the Delaware Indians in Oklahoma - as the guest of honor at the first Annual Dinner held following the merger in March of 1997. In celebration of the lodge’s eighty-fifth anniversary in 2000, the lodge renovated the Unami Lodge house at Treasure Island. At that year’s NOAC, Michael McCrea was recognized with the Order’s national Distinguished Service Award.

The 2000s saw Unami Lodge perform many exemplary acts of service to the Cradle of Liberty Council, and especially to its camps. Lodge members helped to fund and carry out the renovation of Baker Lodge on Treasure Island in 2003, rebuild Treasure Island after devastating back-to-back floods in 2005 and 2006, and entirely funded and constructed the Unami Lodge house at Resica Falls from 2005-2007 and the Ranjo Memorial Clocktower in 2013-2014, along with funding and supporting the construction of the Richards Arena in 2011-2012. In 2002, Treasure Island played host to the NE-4A conclave, with a theme celebrating the fact that “It’s Great to Be Home Again!” In 2004, following the National Order of the Arrow Committee’s decision to drop official lodge numbers as part of the national office’s record keeping, instead using a lodge’s council number, the Lodge Executive Committee of Unami Lodge 1 chose to enshrine the number 1 as a permanent part of the lodge’s name by adopting Unami Lodge, One as the lodge’s official name. At that year’s NOAC, Edward T. Clifford, III was recognized with the Order’s national Distinguished Service Award. The lodge hosted a ninetieth-anniversary celebration in the summer of 2005, with daytime program held at Treasure Island and evening program held at nearby Ockanickon Scout Reservation. In 2006, the lodge began hosting an annual community service day, rotating the site each year between one of the lodge’s three fields, and expanding in 2013 to serve one location in each field. The lodge also provided service to Cradle of Liberty Council jamborees in 2007 and 2009.

In the fall of 2008, the executive board of the Cradle of Liberty Council voted to close Treasure Island Scout Reservation on the recommendation of the council’s camping committee. At the 2008 Fall Fellowship (the last official Scouting event to take place on Treasure Island), members of Unami Lodge, One helped prepare and preserve the camp in preparation for its closure, as well as celebrate its history and traditions. The weekend closed with the singing of the Treasure Island camp song. Treasure Island was sold in 2018 to a private camping corporation with connections to the Boy Scouts. In 2009, Unami, One hosted the inaugural Section NE-5B Conclave at Resica Falls Scout Reservation, the first time Resica Falls had hosted a conclave since Delmont 43 had lasted hosted in the early 1990s. At the 2009 NOAC, David E. Schaub was recognized with the Order’s national Distinguished Service Award. In 2010 and 2012, Unami was hit with tragedy as it mourned the losses of Thomas Richards, past lodge officer and section chief, and Steve Ranjo, 1991 lodge chief and past section chief and lodge adviser. 2012 saw the start of a major project that would make part of the history of Unami Lodge, One accessible to any Arrowman: the relocation of the original ceremonial grounds from Treasure Island to the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve, the BSA’s newest high adventure base and National Jamboree site in West Virginia. In cooperation with the national OA committee and members of Witauchsoman Lodge 44, the ceremonial grounds were ultimately disassembled in 2014 and reconstructed as the Summit Circle. A contingent of Unami Lodge, One members attended the dedication ceremony in April of 2016. Unami Lodge, One celebrated its centennial anniversary in 2015, hosting the Section NE-5B Conclave at Resica Falls Scout Reservation - which challenged members to “Awaken Our Past, Define Our Future” - and a special centennial anniversary celebration held after the close of conclave on Sunday. July 16, 2015 - the centennial of the first Ordeal ceremony - saw a small celebration and commemoration at Resica Falls, along with the interment of a time capsule to be opened at the sesquicentennial anniversary in 2065. Using funds raised during the centennial, the lodge funded the installation of fishing piers and the refurbishment of the camp office building at Musser Scout Reservation, and the refurbishment of the Nuneville Cabins at Resica Falls. The lodge also hosted the 2018 Section NE-5 Conclave at Resica Falls, inviting the members of the eleven NE-5 lodges to ignite “The Fire Inside.”

As we continue into our second century, one might ask, “What’s next?” for Unami Lodge, One? No one can be entirely sure what will happen during our lodge’s future. The past has been filled with countless opportunities for brotherhood, cheerfulness and service. The future will undoubtedly be bright, but that brightness can only be determined through the unselfish actions of each individual Arrowman, without whom Unami Lodge, One would not be the same.