The Early Years

by: John Bisbee on

We have officially made it to the end of 2015 and end of the centennial year of the Order of the Arrow.  What a year it has been!  We have accomplished so much and I thank each and every one of you for a fabulous year!  Many of you do not know the backstory of me, so I thought I would take some time to talk about my early involvement in the Order of the Arrow. 

I was elected in the Spring of 2008 to complete my Ordeal.  I traveled to Big 4 Scout Reservation, along with my father and troop members, and enjoyed a great ordeal experience!  I completed my ordeal on a beautiful Saturday in Minot, alongside my father and a former neighbor!  Shortly after that, I was elected as the Chapter 14 Vice-Chief of Service, where I didn’t really get that involved.  The position didn’t require that much work, so I lost a bit of interest in the Order of the Arrow.  I didn’t do much for Order of the Arrow related activities again until I sealed my brotherhood at Heart Butte Scout Reservation.  I was elected as Chapter 14 Secretary at this event and my involvement started to grow.  I began to help out more with Weblos crossover ceremonies and Unit Elections, where my interest in the OA began to grow. 

In 2010, Chapter 14 was informed that they would host the Western Spring Conclave in 2011.  Along with Tanner Hermanson and John Bickler, we formed a team to plan this event.  It was a very rainy weekend, but we all enjoyed a great time.  We learned a ton from the weekend, such as what to do when almost three inches of rain falls during a Conclave weekend…This was the first event I met the at-the-time Chapter 11 Chief, Travis Olson.  At that event, I was reelected as Chapter Secretary, but with the understanding that I would help out on a higher level, due to Tanner (Chapter Chief) preparing for college.  We began to work even more closely together as the year progressed. 

We started to form a great alliance of arrowmen in the western part of the Lodge:  myself from Williston, Travis from Minot, Brady Letteer from Bismarck, ND, and Reed Johnson & Ryan Fahy from Dickinson.  Together, we were a group of arrowmen that greatly improved communication and collaboration between the western chapters of the Lodge.  I still talk to these guys, some almost daily, to this day.  Reed Johnson is now at West Point, Brady Letteer is entering the US Marine Corps, and Ryan Fahy has completed basic training for the US Army and is continuing his training.  We sat on conference calls as a group sometimes for up to two hours, most of it spent chatting away about how our days were going and what homework that we had.  It took very little work for us to plan an event. 

At Fall Conclave 2011, I served as a ceremonialist and started to get my name out there as a person that could be recognized.  I ran for the position of Lodge Secretary, but was unsuccessful.  Mathias Staricka, a former Lodge Officer, encouraged me to run for the final position, Lodge Treasurer.  Knowing nothing about money, I decided to run, and was elected!  I still remember that day like it was just yesterday.  I had no idea what I would be getting myself into, all that I knew was that I would be a bit more busy over the next few years ;)

I can definitely owe my success as an officer to my experiences with Reed, Ryan, Brady, and Travis.  We were a group of people that could finish each others thoughts, pick up loose ends where needed, and even run a conclave with very little stress accumulated (Spring Conclave 2012 at Big 4).  Thanks to this group of arrowmen for keeping me involved and for always being there!

I hope each of you can find your group of people that can do the same to your involvement.  Sure, most of the arrowmen in our core group are no longer actively attending events, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t active mentally.  Throughout the year, I reached out to these gentlemen quite often and asked their opinions on topics, everything from the planning of NOAC 2015 to our Lodge History Book. 

I challenge each of you to find this group of arrowmen and to start making a difference in the lives of others.  You may start off by not knowing much, but by being involved, you can learn and take your experiences to a whole new level.  Aim high, then strive to go higher. 

John Bisbee

2015 Pa-Hin Lodge Chief