As we are in the Order of the Arrow’s Centennial and I prepare to head to my first OA event in years next weekend at the W3N Conclave. I wanted to post my 2005 Conclave Speech (at the time it was Section W3B). I delivered this speech at my home Section’s conclave as the sitting Western Region Chief.
I attended my first Conclave in 1999 and from that moment onward embarked on a journey that now has me standing at a great personal peak – serving as your Western Region Chief. I’ve been to a lot of different places this year. Although in each city I made new and experienced great events, it feels good to be back home, here in Section W3B. If this were any other section at any other conclave I would have looked at our theme “How Uncas Got His Arrow Back” and tell some story about how either I or someone I know lost the arrow once. I would then ask you to think if you know anyone who has lost their arrow. If it was you I would that this conclave let you find it again, if a friend I would challenge you to help him find his arrow. But, this isn’t any old section, its Section W3B and because of that my message this evening will be a little different.
There is a quote by Rene Daumal, “You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.”
Six years ago W3B showed me the trail to the peak I have now reached. The quote made a lot of sense to me when I first heard it at Northern Tier this summer. I also believe that those who have seen from the peak have the responsibility to share their sites with those who haven’t. Dr. Goodman asked for Brotherhood, in a day when there was too much hate in the world. This summer at OA Voyage I experienced true brotherhood when as darkness and rain fell upon my crew still traveling down the river, one crew member, Andrew, began the quick dive into serious hypothermia. Now Andrew is from New Jersey and had managed to push everyone’s buttons throughout the week but as he became unresponsive and it became clear he was in serious trouble every member on the crew came together. We set up tents quickly in the pouring rain, raised a dining fly and got warm food and water ready. In the late hours of that night we became brothers, bound together in a purpose to save another. The Brotherhood Urner talked about thrives today in the OA.
Our founder also asked for Cheerfulness, in a day when the pessimists had the floor. Earlier this year the waters of the Delaware river rose above its banks. Treasure Island, the birthplace of our Order was flooded. The camp was unable to operate this summer. It looks as though the events planned to celebrate the 90th Anniversary of the OA would be diminished. Yes, as July 16th came closer the Arrowmen of Unami Lodge pulled together to celebrate their rich past. As I took the boat from the shore to the island, every face had a smile. The members of Unami present were cheerful even with the knowledge that it would be at least another year before their beloved camp became operational. They look to the future with optimism that the came will rise to its great reputation once again. The Cheerfulness asked for by the original member of Unami lodge is still clearly strong today not only in his lodge but throughout the nation.
Finally, Goodmand asked for Service, when millions were acquiring the habit of getting or grasping rather than giving. In the midst of the humidity and under the Virginia sun an Arrowman rose to perform an act of service rarely matched in selflessness. As preparations for the opening Jamboree arena show turned to chaos, heat exhaustion and dehydration led to hundreds of scouts and scouters passing out or requiring medical attention. I watched as a grand event became a war zone. Troops and staff were told the show was cancelled and to head back to camp. OA Service Corps member John McCourt from New York noticed a young that was too tired and dehydrated to make the trip back on his own. John lifted the scout to his back and carried him to his camp. The approaching thunder storm and the fact the scout’s camp was a little less than a mile in the opposite direction of the Service Corps headquarters did not deter him from service. John’s actions assured me that the spirit of service is still alive in the OA. Watching as the John adn the scout bumped into each other at The Outdoor Adventure Place assured me that the service’s impact is greater than we can imagine.
Those who rise to the tops of mountains must acknowledge two groups of people. The first group are those who traveled the trail before. For me these people included Arrowmen like Mike Moss, Matt Griffis, and even Chris “doofus” Schoenthal. These individuals must be thanks for the trail to the easier and less frightening because of them. The second group is those who continue to push you up the hill, walking with or cheering from a distance. Arromwen like Travis Wicks and Kevin Fromherz, my father, my advisers Larry, Andy, Dick, and Steve as well as my family.
Arrowmen are products of their lodge, they push, cheer, and lead the way – thank you Tannu Lodge. Damual never said why one must come down from the peak and I believe no one ever would, except for the knowledge that others will ascend and see the view from up high. Finally this evening, I know what is below and what is above. I have climbed, I have seen. I will descend and see no longer, but I will have seen. There will be a way of conducting myself by a memory of what I saw higher up. When I can no longer see I will at least still know and for that my brothers, I thank you”