Lodge 40 History

May 1, 1929. On this day, the officers of the Grand Lodge put their signatures and their seal on the charter of the Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan Lodge, only the fortieth chartered lodge in the nation. There were only seven other lodges chartered that year, and E. Urner Goodman himself, founder of the Wimachtendienk, was able to find his way to Camp Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan to personally present the Lodge 40 charter. Even before the charter was presented, there were Arrowmen in camp. Before Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan was built, they had attended Owasippe Camps and had been elected there. But no rituals could be held in the new camp until a chief had been selected. Thus the first camp director, Carl MacMarnus, was appointed to also be the first chief.

Right away, the Lodge got off on the wrong foot when it chose the wolf to be its totem: the members discovered that an older lodge had already selected the wolf, and totem duplications were considered undesirable. After much thought, the whip-poor-will was made the new lodge totem. Those who had chosen the whip-poor-will felt it appropriate because in those days just as now, the woods around Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan were filled with them (there were almost as many whip-poor-wills as there were loons).

Organization came to the Lodge in 1931. On December 12th, the first complete set of by-laws was adopted. They provided for an Executive Board consisting of all the past chiefs as well as the officers. At that time, the Medicine Man was also one of the elected officers of the Lodge. Officers were elected at the annual Christmas banquet, but there were seldom any other meetings of the Lodge on the Shore, except for occasional meetings of the Executive Board. These too were seldom, because the officers were usually college men spread all over the country. Consequently, most of the activity of the Lodge took place at camp; new members could only be elected by their troops there. Arrowmen at camp would meet to select the members of the Brotherhood Honor, sometimes known as the Ritual Degree.

On December 12th, 1932, the Lodge established one of its finest traditions. On that day, an amendment to the by-laws provided that a member of the Second Degree take the ordeal along with the new candidates. He was to be called the Example. The tradition of the Example is peculiar to Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan, and it has remained basically unchanged in almost 90 years. Only in 1960 when it was decided to have two Examples, one from each camp, has there been any alteration in this tradition of cheerful service.

It was also in 1932 that the first Vigil members were inducted in Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan Lodge. They were John Betak, George Birsch, and H. G. Boltz. Appropriately enough, John Betak’s Indian name was Natamiechen – The First One.

The ritual of the Lodge was fairly simple at first. The spoken lines of the calling-out ceremony were exactly the same as those which tradition has handed down to the present day. However, there was no dancing; the scouts were simply formed into a circle. The ritual team would enter the circle, speak its peace, walk around the circle tapping out the candidates, and then everyone departed. But there existed from the beginning a magic, self-starting fire.  The highlight of the development of early ceremonial tradition of the Lodge was in 1941, when the secret induction bowl, commonly known as “Applesauce,” was opened.

During the war year years Lodge activity waned; it was difficult to plan any new developments because the officers often had to leave to join the service. By 1943 the Lodge program had withered so drastically that the Board decided to elect five associate chiefs instead of just one vice chief. That way, there would certainly be someone to take over in the absence of the chief, or so they thought. As it turned out, none of the associate chiefs were available either, and a sixth party became camp chief. Finally, in 1945, the camp didn’t open at all. The Order of the Arrow was still a camp-oriented program, and although a large number of honorary members were inducted at a special conclave, the Lodge program withered away to almost nothing for a year.

By 1948, the Lodge had begun to rebuild.  During the winter of that year, the council donated the Siberian Mess Hall to the Arrow. The building was then slid across the ice from the south end of the lake to its present site near the barge dock. That summer, during second period, the first work was done toward making it into a permanent Arrow “lodge” at camp. By 1952, the fireplace was finished and glass windows had been installed. With the following summer came new furniture. By 1954, thanks to the Building Committee and many ordeal candidates, the chimney was completed. The last major improvement in 1958 was an impressive (but expensive) front porch.

Also in 1948 was the national OA conference in Bloomington, Indiana. Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan sent five delegates, and after they returned, the Lodge was never quite the same.  They proposed three major changes. First, according to “National,” general elections had to be held in the chartered unit, not at camp; second, there should be more Lodge meetings; third, the Lodge needed a newspaper. Seldom has an advisory commission had all of its recommendations accepted so quickly. A newspaper was started immediately, and before the end of the 1948 administration, two issues were printed. It was called, appropriately, The Whip-Poor-Will. An Activities Committee was formed for the purpose of planning more Lodge meetings. These meetings were to have special themes, such as “Western Round-Up,” at which a good time was had by all. Finally, the by-laws were amended to provide for unit elections. However, a lodge with twenty years of tradition under its belt does not accept major changes very quickly or without some friction. After one issue under the 1949 administration, the Whip-Poor-Will ceased to exist, and various other circumstances conspired to undermine the new improvements.

About this same time, chapters came into existence. In 1948, there were ten of them, nearly one for every one or two towns in the council. These chapters were too small to do anything, so the next year three were formed: Northwest, Central, and South. The problem was that these chapters were not natural ones: they made hash out of the council’s district system. In 1952, Glenview revolted and formed an unofficial fourth chapter. The next year the chapters were again changed in order to conform to the district layout. The only trouble with chapters was that, as they grew in importance, the Lodge stopped holding general meetings. The Activities Committee that had started so well in 1948 passed out of existence, and the chapters were, on the whole, not yet large enough to plan a very good program.

By 1950, the Lodge was also caught in legal hassles.  The Board had decided to completely revise the by-laws and all other improvements were placed on hold.  After a year of disagreement, the revision committee was ready with its recommendations.  At a general meeting of the Lodge on May 27th, 1950, the following changes were passed by a vote of 19-14: Meteu was no longer to be an elected officer; there were to be six members-at-large on the Executive Boar, two elected each year for three year terms; a committee was to be formed to select Brotherhood members; and there was to be a thing called the Honors Master’s Manual plus an honors master to go with it. But probably the most startling addition was this: “Elections will henceforth be held at camp,”

In 1949, according to plan, unit elections had been held, but only about half of them. Organization was poor and the plan was not working. As a result, elections had to be held at camp anyway. Those who had opposed unit elections in the first place were now able to use this as the perfect argument.  Consequently, the Lodge decided to go back to camp elections.  The factions for and against unit elections disputed for four years before the system was finally changed back again.

The re-introduction of unit elections produced a new problem: how can the Lodge induct candidates who did not or could not attend camp?  In 1954, it was decided to call them out at a Lodge conclave to be held in the fall.  Thereafter, the fall conclave became a Lodge institution, and before long it came to be thought of as the “annual meeting,” as important as the Christmas banquet.  It was finally decided in 1957 to hold the Lodge elections and business meeting at the conclave rather than the banquet.  In 1959, the Executive Board attempted to remove the ordeal and induction from the conclave, but the idea proved so unworkable that they had to be reinstated the next year.

Other changes arose during the transitional period of the fifties.  In 1956, the Lodge discontinued the offering of life memberships, and dues were raised from $1.00 to $1.50. In 1959, the member-at-large system was changed so that three would be elected every year for two year terms. The following year, it was decided that the vice chief would be the runner-up on the ballot for chief instead of being elected on a separate ballot.

As the Lodge set its own house in order, it was able to participate more fully in the Area program.  In 1958, Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan acted as host for the Area 7-DK conclave.  It was held September 26-28th at Fort Sheridan.  The next year, Mike Biddlebough was elected vice-chief-north of the Area, and the Lodge made the big time in 1962 when Bob Kline was elected Area 7-DK chief.

Probably one of the most significant contributions of the fifties was the perfection of the Lodge calling-out ceremony.  At the end of the previous decade, the members complained that it was a lousy one, but ten years later it had been improved, rehearsed, and accepted as canon. In 1949, a delegation went to Tesomas Lodge and brought back a dance called the “feather dance.” During the third period at camp, it was incorporated into the calling-out. That was just the beginning. After that, the members of the Lodge helped to improve the feather dance, added fire-hoop dance, the eagle dance, and for a time, a snake dance.  There was also a clamor for a better place to hold the ceremony than in the old dust bowl.  Finally, in 1957, a new bowl was carved out of the woods south of the camp. It was opened at camp’s fourth period and dedicated to Chuck Gribble, becoming known as the “Gribbowl”.  Now, Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan had a stage as well as something to put on it.  The calling-out ceremony became the public showpiece of the Lodge and of the camp.

At the end of thirty years of fine tradition, Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan Lodge, W.W.W. had become about the tenth oldest lodge in the nation.  It had also become one of the most well organized and respected.