During the late 1940’s the Order of the Arrow was starting to make itself known in the Southwest, with most of the councils in the area developing an interest in chartering the organization. Several lodges were chartered in the early 1940’s. Victorio Lodge #177 was chartered in 1940 to serve the Cochise County Council, and Sinawava Lodge #312 was chartered in 1945 to serve the Boulder Dam Area Council.
In 1950, our lodge was charted to serve the Theodore Roosevelt Council as a member of the Order of the Arrow in what was at the time known as Area 12A. The lodge was chartered with the name of Wipala Wiki, and numbered 432.
Many councils experienced growing pains, but overall the program became quite successful. Many lodges were formed and abolished within months or years, only to re-organize and charter again. The problems were varied, but for many lodges in the Southwest, there was a resistance to the development of a lodge within a council’s unit leaders, specifically in Boy Scout Troops. Much of the feedback provided that many unit leaders saw little or no benefit to their boys being involved in the Order. This resulted in few Troop elections allowed by Scoutmasters.
From 1950 to 1955, the lodge was mostly functional at summer camp, where the boys who were elected and inducted there were often harassed by over zealous camp staff who mostly made up the ceremony and Ordeal teams. There were many complaints filed during that time, which led to the Council Scout Executive, George “Chief” F. Miller, to halt the program.
In 1956, a group of Scouters comprised of Mike McNaulty, Max Mitchel, Jerry Frees, Fritz Hines, Steve Rysiak, Alex Hogan, Walt Seamans, and Jim Dempsey, met with Chief Miller. They were able to work out the issues and design an organization plan that was acceptable to all present. These men worked with the youth leadership to create the lodge’s first Rules and Regulations. They agreed that summer camp was important to participate in and promote, but that the members primary obligation was to provide service to their units year round. The lodge was then re-organized in 1956.
With the lodge’s re-organization in 1956, membership grew fast and the lodge began to shape it’s personality. Our first lodge adviser was Jim Dempsey, who worked with various youth leadership to develop a quality program that was representative of the ideals set by the Founders of the Order. In 1957, the lodge started publishing a periodic newsletter called the Tom Tom. It was created to keep the membership informed about lodge activities and organization.
Wipala Wiki Lodge’s first Lodge Chief was John Kiedaisch. By 1956, the Council had moved it’s summer camp to the new location at the old Spade Ranch near Payson. This facility was a great opportunity for the lodge to have effective Ordeals under the summer leadership of a selected Camp Chief and Bill Holloway, the Camp Order of the Arrow Adviser. The lodge had conducted weekly elections and Ordeals at summer camp. This was the practice of Ordeals for years to come, with only one make-up Ordeal conducted outside of summer camp. The make-up Ordeals were usually conducted at the Heard Scout Pueblo in the Fall. Bill Holloway continued to work with the lodge at summer camp through 1982, and was instrumental in helping the lodge grow.