Dec 3, 2010

The 1995 Year of Service OA patch

Not long ago I got to wondering about a particular activity patch in my collection and decided to spend some time researching its origins. It came to my collection as part of a group of Kecoughtan event patches I acquired. It's not rare or valuable by any stretch, but I learned it holds a very special significance not only for lodges 463, 483, and 333, but represents a unique beginning that even Arrowmen of today will appreciate.

1995 was a year between NOAC events. The National OA committee implemented a program called the Year of Service and encouraged every lodge to perform a service project approved by their Scout Executive to earn special recognition. A special patch was available for Arrowmen participating in the service project.

The April-June 1995 edition of the OA National Bulletin featured an article  encouraging Lodges to participate in the program, with details and a picture of the patch.

The National OA Committee also encouraged Lodges to apply for matching grants to help fund their service projects. A front page story in the January-March 1995 edition of the OA National Bulletin advised that 152 lodges submitted requests. While $25K was originally set aside to fund the approved projects, the Committee selected 19 Lodges to receive a total of $58,111 in matching grants for their projects. The only Virginia lodge to receive matching funds was Shenandoah 258, which was granted $4K to assist with building a handicapped campsite.

As part of the Year of Service Kecoughtan and Chanco Lodges shared a joint service project on the weekend of Nov. 4, 1995. In the September 1995 Chanco Courier Lodge Chief John Belmonte  invited Arrowmen from his Lodge to attend the joint service project to be held with Kecoughtan Lodge to rebuild the chapel at Camp Chickahominy.

The October, 1995 Kecoughtan Kryer also encouraged members to attend, cautioning that only 60 patches would be available for the project participants.

The April 1996 edition of the Duck Calls newsletter reports the project was completed March 1-3, 1996 at the Winter Ordeal of the new Wahunsenakah Lodge that was formed by the merger of Kecoughtan 463 and Chanco 483 on January 1, 1996.

According to Duck Calls a highlight of the weekend was snow and an attendance of over 200 brothers. Former Chanco member Dewitt Holland remembers that he served on the kitchen staff and all the boys were moved into the dining hall for the night in anticipation of the arriving winter storm. Seeking quiet, he elected to sleep outside and awoke under a tent sagging under two inches of snow.

The patch is not listed in the activity emblems catalog for either lodge in collecting resources like the Blue Book, but represents a significant service event as Arrowmen from southeastern Virginia began their project as members of Chanco and Kecoughtan Lodges and completed it as brothers in the new Wahunsenakah Lodge 333.

The National Significance

As part of the Year of Service the National Committee also launched the Philmont OA Trail Crew project. 270 Arrowmen from across the country were selected to spend 14 days at Philmont during the summer helping construct a new trail.

This new initiative was an important seed for future high-profile service efforts by the OA, first at other BSA national high adventure areas and later on public land throughout the US. The ambitious ArrowCorps5 in 2008 was the largest service project conducted by the BSA since World War II, involving over 3,600 Arrowmen in 5 national forests across the country. Today the seed planted back in 1995 continues to grow as the National Committee plans SummitCorps for summer, 2011 at the New River Gorge National River Area in West Virginia.

The lesson I learned after completing my research: don't judge a patch by the monetary value you find on a price list or its nondescript generic design. The fun in patch collecting is learning and appreciating the unique background behind the emblem. 

No comments:

Post a Comment