In June of 1919, the Richmond Area Council, Boy Scouts of America, was starting the sixth camping season of Camp Shawondassee, its council camp located just outside of Richmond in Chesterfield County. The camp was fully operational, and many troops attended each year.
The Council had first been chartered in 1912, and Charles Weaver became Council Scout Executive in 1914. Weaver was very active in the camp’s operation, and he was always looking for a new programs and ideas to enrich the Scouts’ experiences in camp.
Weaver heard of a new program, which was gaining support in the Philadelphia area, known as the Wimachtendienk, Wingolauchsik, Witahemui. The organization consisted of honor campers, who were elected into the W.W.W. while camping at Treasure Island Scout Camp during the summer. Many of it’s ceremonies and activities were based upon the heritage of the Lenni Lanape, and American Indian tribe of the Delaware Nation.
Weaver and two assistants drove to Treasure Island in August of 1919. They visited with Urner Goodman and Carroll Edson, the founders of the organization. The witnessed a ceremony for the “first degree of the Wimachtendienk,” which taught the candidates for initiation [membership] three lessons:
Each candidate attempted to encircle a large tree with outstretched arms. Having failed, several brothers joined him. Easily encircling the tree, the candidate was taught the lesson of Brotherhood. The candidate then attempted to scale a steep bank. Failing, the brothers again came to his aid, and thus teaching Service.
Finally, the candidate was given a bundle of twigs which he placed on the council fire, thus showing Cheerfulness. With this final lesson, the candidate became a member of the W.W.W. As they were accepted into the circle of the Lodge, Meteu, the medicine man, reminded them, “He alone is worthy to wear the Arrow, who will continue faithfully to serve his fellowmen.”
When Weaver returned to Richmond, he was convinced that this new organization could work in the Richmond Area Council. On November 25, 1919, an application was sent to Philadelphia. Pamunkey Lodge Three, W.W.W. had begun.
Two scouts were chosen each week of summer camp at Shawondassee to be inducted into Pamunkey Lodge. As candidates, each Scout went through an arduous ordeal before being admitted into the Lodge.
The Scout was awakened in the middle of his last night at camp by a brother of the W.W.W. clan in Indian costume. He was instructed to maintain complete silence and was led to a remote area of the camp. He then slept under a shelter which he had to make himself. He was awakened the next morning to cook his own breakfast, consisting of one slice of bacon and juice. The candidates worked together all day on service projects for the camp, and, as they finished these, they were led to a ceremonial ground, where they were admitted into the Brotherhood.
Meteu spoke of the newly-inducted brothers as the Lodge was about to be closed; “My brothers, you now took upon yourselves an obligation which we trust will never be broken. Note that the symbol of the Order of the Arrow has been fitly chosen. It must be straight; it’s point keen. Aimed high, its course undeviating, its direction onward and upward.” And as such, Pamunkey Lodge Three was now set on the course.
The Underground Years
The Lodge membership grew larger with each passing summer. The Lodge held a few meetings in the winter because most, if not all, of it’s activities were centered around summer camp. Camp staff members served as Lodge officers. At the Ordeals, Lodge members gathered together to welcome new members, and a chicken supper was prepared for the membership by Benjamin Partee, for whom Partee Lodge at Camp T. Brady Saunders, the current council camp, is named.
By 1929, total cumulative membership was up to almost one hundred, however very few of those remained active. Lodge members had not even renewed the National Charter since 1926. In the summer of 1930, the son of [a prominent Richmond doctor] was taking his Ordeal. [The doctor] came to Shawondassee and requested to speak with his son. When Lodge officers objected, he found his son and left camp with him. [The doctor] later spoke with the Scout Executive Charles Weaver and requested that he disband the Lodge. Weaver did so, and the Pamunkey Lodge would not officially re-organize for another fifteen years.
In 1931, Charley Wheatley and others who had been active in Pamunkey met and re-organized the Lodge without the permission of the Scout Executive and without a charter from the National Lodge. Meetings of a few individuals were held on rare occasions at Mr. Wheatley’s home or the homes of others throughout the 1930’s. However, no Ordeals were held during the years 1931-1944, and, with no additions to the membership, very few brothers held the lodge together by the mid – 1940’s.
On December 18, 1944, George Freeman, Scout Executive of the Robert E. Lee Council (the Council’s name was changed in the 1930’s), sent a letter requesting re-charter information to the National Chief.
The Lodge was re-chartered with a new name, Nawakwa, meaning “in the middle of the forest” in an Indian tongue chosen by Lodge members. In 1947, Mr. Jim Barber, an adult, was Lodge Chief. Barber, Wheatley and others ran Ordeals and other Lodge functions. Activities such as Indian dancing and campfire programs for Shawondassee were begun. The small Lodge had support, finally, from the local council, and was on it’s way to becoming a strong active part of the Robert E. Lee Council.
Following the rebirth and structural changed of Nawakwa Lodge in the forties, the fifties seemed to pull the Lodge together. Nawakwa was still small; however, membership began to grow with an increased public exposure brought on by service on the Robert E. Lee Council at Camp Shawondassee.
Shawondassee had been the Council camp since 1914, and it was in constant need of repair. Many projects accomplished by the Lodge were conservation oriented. They included erosion control projects as well as projects to encourage wildlife on the property. Other projects included construction of buildings, making campfire circles, erecting totem poles, and general projects for the upkeep of Camp. These service projects were carried out by candidates and members alike at quarterly ordeals and fellowships. Such service increased the Lodge’s visibility and resulted in more and more unit elections. Membership rose dramatically in Nawakwa Lodge.
The first Lodge news bulletin was sent to the membership on March 2, 1950. It passed on such information to the members. Later, in 1951, the first official Lodge newsletter, the Tom-Tom was published.
Throughout the fifties it was sent to Lodge members sporadically, and it has stayed with the Lodge over the years to win many awards for excellence. The Tom-Tom proved to be a great aid in encouraging active membership in the Lodge.
On February 21, 1951, the arrival of Nawakwa’s first emblem, known as the “three-legged coon,” was cause for excitement throughout the Lodge. Whereas before members had no insignia to represent their membership in Nawakwa, they could now proudly display that fact. And proud they were, for the patch was impressive; it was circular with a brown raccoon showing three legs on a white background with a green border.
The second Lodge patch, the “four-legged coon,” was identical to the first except for the raccoon. The second raccoon was given a fourth leg and a silvery-brown coat. This patch continued as the insignia of the Lodge until the first flap shaped patch was issued. Issued concurrently with the “coons,” the “Virginia Nawakwa,” was a square patch with a green background and a lighter green state of Virginia embroidered onto it. “Nawakwa 3 WWW” was inscribed onto the bottom of the embroidered section. Many members cut away the green background leaving only the shape of Virginia and the lettering. These patches were not followed by another until 1953, when the first flap shaped patch was issued. These first three patches of Nawakwa inspired in the Lodge a spirit of enthusiasm that carried on throughout the decade.
The exposure that Nawakwa received in the early-to mid-fifties was also due in part to the activities of the Lodge’s Dance Team, which was one of the best in Area III-C. The Indian dancers performed in Virginia and surrounding states, including Maryland, North Carolina, and West Virginia. The costumes used by the team were hand-made with the greatest authenticity, and many hours of work went into the designing, sewing, and decorating of each individual piece of regalia. Solemnity was the key to a successful dance, and the many competitions in which Nawakwa participated were judged with this in mind. Many public dances were held as well, fir such events as Cub Scout banquets, Scout circuses, and in one case, the Thalhimer’s Toy Parade.
On November 22, 1956, the dance team participated in the annual Richmond Thalhimer’s Toy Parade. Nine Arrowmen participated in the event. [Ed – Roy Page, Lodge Adviser (1986-1992), was one of the dance team members on the float.] They danced on a float made by Nawakwa’s members. It took many weeks to prepare and the event culminated the days when Nawakwa’s dance team enjoyed its greatest prominence in the Lodge.
In 1951, Area III-A, of which Nawakwa was a member, became too large for reasonable organization, and it was divided into several smaller areas. Area III-C, Nawakwa’s new Area, consisted of the following lodges; Amangamek Wipit #470, Blue Heron #349, Chanco #483, Kecoughtan #463, Koo Ku Koo Hoo #161, Nawakwa #3, Powhatan #456, Shenandoah #258, and Shenshawpotoo #276. Anxious to participate in the new Area, Nawakwa’s members made a successful bid for the 1955 Area III-C Pow-Wow.
This Pow-Wow was held at Camp Shawondassee on April 23 and 24, 1955. Mr. Philip J. Robbins, National Executive Secretary of the Order of the Arrow, spoke to the delegates at the opening session of the Pow-Wow. Many discussion groups were held, entertaining such topics as Lodge Program and Chapter Organization. The Pow-Wow concluded late in the afternoon of the 24th with an Area business meeting and elections.
Four years later, April 25-26 of 1959, Nawakwa once again served as host of Area III-C at Shawondassee. This Pow-Wow marked the fortieth anniversary of Lodge Number Three, and the event was celebrated in grand style. Each lodge displayed milestones of its history, and presented a short overview of its history, and presented a short overview of its history while its display was being viewed. This Pow-Wow provided each lodge in Area III-C the opportunity to record its history for future brothers of the WWW.
The 1950’saw Nawakwa overcome many challenges. The Lodge grew from a small, weak organization to a very strong one. Membership grew tremendously, and with this rise, more Scouts of the Robert E. Lee Council began to experience the high ideals and purposes of the Boy Scouts of America. It was in the 1950’s when Nawakwa Lodge first really saw its members begin to function as a whole to cheerfully serve scouting.
The Modern Years
The 1960’s brought much change to the Lodge. In 1965, the Robert E. Lee Council said goodbye to its longtime camping facility, Shawondassee, and hello to a new facility, Camp T. Brady Saunders. Nawakwa Lodge played an important role in the development of this new property. From securing land to the construction of structures and campsites, Lodge members built Camp T. Brady Saunders, a prominent part of the Robert E. Lee Council Scout Reservation in Maidens, Virginia.
Slow growth characterized Nawakwa in the 1970’s. However, quality participation increased within the Lodge. From the development of camp program areas, to the creation of the Where to Go Camping Guide, Nawakwa had a lasting impact on the Scouts of the Richmond area. Section life changed once again for Nawakwa with the creation of the nation’s largest section, SE-1. Together with Nentico #12, Nentego #20, Tutelo #161 (a merger of Koo Ku Koo Hoo and Powhatan #456), Shenandoah #258, Shenshawpotoo #276, Gunekitschick #317, Blue Heron #349, Kecoughtan #463, Chanco #483, Amengamek Wipit #470, and Ahtoquog #540, Nawakwa helped SE-1 gain a national reputation for excellence. But as all good things must come to an end, so did SE-1.
The Regional realignment of the early 1980’s split the dominating SE-1 into two sections; NE-5 and SE-8. Nawakwa was joined in SE-8 by Tutelo #161, Shenandoah #258, Shenshawpotoo #276, Blue Heron #349, Kecoughtan #463, and Chanco #483. A change of section was not the only change for the Lodge. In the mid 1980’s, the Lodge assisted the Council with the development of a new camping facility of the Scout Reservation property – Camp T. Brady Saunders as we know it today. In addition to the new campsites, structures, and lake, Nawakwa was instrumental to the creation of the new winter camping facility, Camp S. Douglas Fleet, and the construction of a new Lodge Ceremonial Grounds. The 1980’s ended well for Nawakwa, who was the host of the SE-8 Conclave during the Lodge’s 70th Anniversary. Not only did Nawakwa hold one of the largest Conclaves of SE-8 history, but also its Lodge members faired particularly well in competitions; Nawakwa received awards in: Ceremonies – Individual, Cereminies – Team, Dance – Individual, Newsletter, and Camp Promotions.
The early 1990’s once again brought change for Nawakwa with yet another Section reorganization. In 1993, Nawakwa and several other Virginia lodges joined the North Carolina lodges of SE-7 to form a new Section. This new Section SR-7, was comprised of Nawakwa #3, Tsoiotsi Tsogalii #70 (a merger of Keyauwee #70 and Tslagi #163), Occoneechee #104, Croatan #117, Wahissa #118, Itibapishe Iti Hollo #188, Nayawin Rar #296, Klahican #331, Blue Heron #349, Catawba #459, Wahunsenakah #333 (a merger of Kecoughtan #463, and Chanco #483), and Eswau Huppeday #560. In 1994, Nawakwa celebrated its 75th Anniversary in style. With special function patches, pocket flap patches, anniversary events, and an Anniversary Banquet, members and their families celebrated three-quarters of a century of Order of the Arrow in the Richmond Area. That year also saw the opening of the Nawakwa Scouting Museum in the newly renovated Partee Lodge. This museum held collections of Scouting memorabilia such as uniforms, national pocket flap patches, Nawakwa Lodge patches, mugs, Scouting patches, handbooks and other publications. In 1997, Southern Region Section 7 was divided into SR-7A, and SR-7B. The Virginia Lodges: Nawakwa #3, Tutelo #161, Shenandoah #258, Shenshawpotoo #276, Wahunsenakah #333, Blue Heron #349 comprised 7A. They held the 1998 Conclave at Camp Powhatan, with Tutelo Lodge as the host.
Nawakwa continued its Lodge development and its support of Scout camping through the beginning of the next century. The E. Urner Goodman Camping Award, presented annually to one outstanding lodge in each region, to recognize effectiveness in promoting and increasing Scout camping in the council, was awarded to Nawakwa in 1980, 1998, and 2000.
Nawaka was the host for the SR-7A Conclave in 1999. Lodge members continued to receive national awards in ceremonies and Dance. Nawakwa’s Ceremonial Team was chosen by the National Order of the Arrow Committee to create a ceremonies training video.
In addition to improving Camp T. Brady Saunders and other off-reservation properties, Nawakwa also played a major role in the development of the new Cub Scout camping facility at Camp Boisseau -- The Cub and Weblows Adventure Camp --which was opened in the summer of 2002.
Today, the brothers of Nawakwa Lodge #3 continue cheerfully to be leaders in service to the Heart of Virginia Council and its units and facilities.