“Our Story”- the National Scouting Historian Summit

Learning about Scouting History is one thing, but what about spending a week at Philmont with Section leaders, notable historians, and OA brothers from across the country? Sign me up!

That’s what I said when I read about the first ever Summit devoted to nothing but Scouting history. I recently had the opportunity to attend the National Scouting Historian Summit at Philmont Training Center for the sole purpose of paying it forward. What do I mean by that?

Well, at the Summit, I was determined to learn techniques and strategies to not only protect and preserve scouting heritage, but to procure historic lessons and utilize them to rekindle the spirit of our Order in Section W6W. In essence, it was all about learning and sharing “Our Story”.

Cherry Cobbler Cook-off

“Our Story” quickly became apparent to me as I rode from Albuquerque to Philmont with fellow Arrowmen from New Jersey, as they embodied the cheerful spirit and kindly accepted only W6W patches as compensation for the trip. Then, walking down the Oak tree lined road brought back memories of brotherhood and service as Philmont appeared before me. Further still, cooking and eating beside my fellow brothers recalled memories of camping and fellowship we’ve all enjoyed.

This Summit was the first of it’s kind, stemming from the ideas of Bill Topkis (National Committee Member), Nelson Block (Co-author of the OA Handbook), and Dr. Jeff Morley (Director of the NOAC Museum). It was a gathering of historians, curators, and OA leaders from across the country to learn how to share the story of the Order of the Arrow. The Summit included classes on almost every subject you could think of. The courses included informational sessions and panel interviews such as: starting and setting up Scouting and Lodge History museums, writing historical biographies, conducing oral history interviews, and many, many more. Furthermore, we visited the National Scouting Museum where I saw the uniform worn by the first African-American Vigil.

The story of Emerson’s journey.

Additionally, we were given a private tour of the back of the National Scouting Museum Archives were thousands of artifacts were kept in storage. Can you imagine just passing rows of boxes with historic artifacts, like a box labeled “Goodman Hats and Neckerchiefs”?

Just a small sample of the extraordinary artifacts.

The National Scouting Historian Summit was the largest conference held at Philmont Training Center in over 20 years, with over 200 participants. I was fortunate enough to receive the “Green Bar” Bill Harcourt Scholarship and was one of just 22 youth in attendance.

At the Summit, I felt most connected to the Arrowmen around me. I networked our National Vice Chief Eric Harrison, Section Chiefs from the Southern Region, and I was even fortunate enough to become friends with Jorge, the Chief of Yokahu Lodge in Puerto Rico. I was greeted by hospitality and camaraderie as the week progress; meeting new people from outside our Section and reconnecting with historians within it. There is something so special and so unique about our Order that can immediately establish connections of brotherhood through just a simple handshake.

Jorge and Ryan

Most importantly, however, was the lessons I learned and will implement at our upcoming Conclave. Understanding our past is just one key element to planning the path for the future. I hope to see you there!

And so, now that the Summit has concluded and with the honor and privilege of serving as your Vice Chief, I challenge you to remember those word we all know: “to always and faithfully observe and preserve the traditions of the Order of the Arrow”.