Founding of the Order of the Arrow
During the summer of 1915, E. Urner Goodman and Carroll Edson, the camp director and program director of Treasure Island Scout Camp in Pennsylvania, wanted to find a way to recognize campers who went above and beyond in demonstrating the cheerful spirit of service. On July 16, 1915, they held the first induction ceremony for what would soon be known as the Order of the Arrow.
Soon after its founding, the OA became a nationwide movement as other camps began to adopt the program. In 1948, the OA was recognized as the BSA’s official national honor society for honor campers. The OA has expanded its focus to include conservation, high adventure, and servant leadership. Over a century since its establishment, over a million Scouts have been chosen as Arrowmen.
Region and Area Realignments
As the Order grew, national leaders recognized the need to organize lodges into regions. At first, these regions were aligned with the BSA regions and served administrative purposes, but as time went on, they were changed in the late 1930s. One of the early examples of a “section conclave” took place in our section in 1936 when legacy Owasippe Lodge invited two other lodges to their fellowship event in Chicago as a gesture of brotherhood.
The regional structure underwent several changes and realignments over the decades, and our section reached its current borders in 2012. Before that time, the Illinois and Wisconsin lodges were generally in different regions.
When the regions were initially created, the Northern Illinois lodges formed Area 10 (1938-39), Area J (1940-42), and Area 11 (1943-48), while Wisconsin lodges covering the entire state constituted Area 11 (1938-39), Area K (1940-42), and Area P (1943-1948). For the next quarter century, until the next major realignment, the lodges that currently are a part of Section G9 were organized into a series of areas under the Region 7 umbrella. In 1973, that 12-region structure that lasted 25 years was reduced to six regions, and we were situated in the East Central Region. At that point, the Southern Wisconsin lodges were labeled as EC-1B, and the Northern Illinois lodges were EC-3A.
However, 20 years later, the regions were consolidated into four regions, and the East Central Region became part of the larger Central Region. The Wisconsin lodges became part of a C-1B, which reached from Wisconsin to North Dakota, while EC-3A—the Northern Illinois lodges—was renamed C-3.
The Creation of Section C-7
In 2009, the lodges that currently form Section G9 were placed into three different sections that would eventually all merge. The Wisconsin lodges constituted Section C-3B; the Illinois lodges were divided into Section 7A and 7B, although they would merge the following year, forming Section C-7. Soon after, in 2012, Section C-3B was absorbed by Section C-7, achieving the modern-day borders most Arrowmen will recognize. Most recently, the four-region structure was reduced to two regions—Gateway and Eastern—and Section C-7 was renamed Section G9 at the 2022 Conclave.
While we have only been under this designation for a year, we have continued to serve thousands of Arrowmen and host events that have earned us the nickname “Best in the Midwest.”
Presently, the Order of the Arrow consists of nearly 300 lodges, which form 44 sections in two regions. Through the program, members live up to the ideals of brotherhood, cheerfulness, and service set forth by E. Urner Goodman and Carroll A. Edson over a hundred years. Despite the changes over the decades, Section G9 continues to serve and advance that fundamental mission.