Aug 4, 2009

History of the Kecoughtan A-6 Arrowhead Patch

The 463 A-6 arrowhead is a diminutive, simple patch whose complex historical background belies its plain appearance.

Just 3 inches tall and 2 1/8 inches across it's widest part, the patch has a gray twill background and just two thread colors: red border, lettering, and arrow, and an outlined dark brown acorn.

The gray background of the flap denotes its significance to the Lodge. This small arrowhead was issued in 1976 on the occasion of Kecoughtan's 25th (silver) anniversary. The design mirrors the first arrowhead patch that was issued by Lodge 463 in 1952 that had a green twill background, red border, lettering, and arrow, and a fully embroidered brown acorn.

The patch was designed not only to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Lodge, but as a limited edition reproduction of the original Lodge arrowhead it had to be earned.

The patch was announced in the November, 1975 edition of the Kecoughtan Kryer:
"In this issue you will find information on the Lodge 25th Anniversary Award, available to all members who meet the requirements on page 3. The award itself will be a reproduction of the first lodge emblem, the arrowhead, with a silver background."
Co-editors Tom and Dicky Wiggs wrote in their Editor's Smokesignals column that:
"It should be possible for every active Arrowman to fulfill the requirements …"
The Lodge Executive Committee determined the requirements for earning the 25th Anniversary Award patch, and as one Lodge member remembers:
"The requirements to receive the award were not trivial. They included service work far beyond the level that the casual lodge member wanted to devote. The service work requirement was intended to get the lodge membership involved in the considerable amount of work needed to prepare for the celebration."
To keep track of progress towards the award the Lodge provided a scorecard with dates of associated events:

In the July 1976 Kryer Co-Editor Tom Wiggs hinted at low participation in his Smokesignals column, writing:
"I again emphasize to all of you the dire necessity that you attend the lodge events. The lack of strong participation is hurting the effectiveness of our Brotherhood greatly. I would like to ask that you go forth to your fellow Brothers and promote greater Lodge spirit and participation for this, our 25th year. And that is about as blunt as I can state it."
The August 1976 edition of the Kryer reprinted the requirements and a reminder:
"How are you doing on your 25th Anniversary Award? The requirements are tough, and we know that anyone who earns the award will have shown a heck of a lot of dedication to the Order and to Scouting. Show us your dedication: be one of the few to leave the 25th Anniversary celebration with an award on your pocket!"
The Kecoughtan Lodge history booklet issued for the Lodge's 40th Anniversary in 1992 recalls the 25th anniversary event held Sept. 16-19, 1976 as a huge success, noting that 261 Brothers attended, including Dr. E. Urner Goodman, founder of the Order of the Arrow.

Dr. E. Urner Goodman, Camp Chickahominy Dining Hall, Sept. 1976

The booklet also noted that "16 Brothers received the Lodge's 25th Anniversary Award."

There were far more of the silver arrowhead ordered (500 by one estimate) than Arrowmen who earned them, so the Lodge Executive Committee was faced with the difficult decision of what to do with the remainder.

As one Kecoughtan Arrowman who was active at the time remembers:
"At that point it seemed like the best course of action to just go ahead and sell them and at least recoup our costs. At that point, the patches didn't mean much anymore, but were still a nice reproduction of the original arrowhead patch of the lodge. In retrospect, a reproduction patch probably shouldn't have been chosen as the award patch - too many people wanted one but didn't want to do the work associated with the award. That patch caused some hard feelings around the lodge that took awhile to go away."
Another Kecoughtan Arrowman recalls:
There were only a couple dozen folks to complete the requirements for the 25th anniversary award and the patch (gray arrowhead) intended for this award was in fact released for sale in the trading post because there were too many that would be left over. This proved to be politically contentious in the Lodge Executive Committee and there were some bruised feelings about it … It seems trivial now but at the time it was a big deal to some. From this we learned not to treat any patch award as truly restricted.
To properly award the Arrowmen who had completed the difficult requirements to earn the Award the Lodge Executive Committee approved a special handmade leather emblem designed by Duane McSmith. The one pictured below belongs to George Bains, who was Chairman of the 25th Anniversary Celebration Committee.

Although the silver arrowhead patch was the cause of some internal friction in the Lodge, it did not overshadow the 25th Anniversary Celebration which was hailed as a great success, and continues to represent a very special time in Kecoughtan Lodge history. Recently an Arrowman who earned it told me:
"I don't know if I ever received the leather patch made by Mr. McSmith - I looked through my memorabilia and couldn't find it, but I did find this one gray arrowhead - I guess it really does mean something to me after all these years - I wouldn't part with it for any amount of money. Thanks for reminding me of a wonderful time in my life - there are a lot of memories in this old patch."

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