Ceremonial smoke filled the air. Bonfire flames burned bright. An authentic teepee set the scene. Sounds of drumming and jingling bells played across the grass. These were the sights and sounds of the Order of the Arrow ceremony, the national honor society of the Boy Scouts of America. More than 200 Scouts attended.
Donning ceremonial regalia, Troop 10 of Leawood hosted the “tap-out” ceremony Saturday at Camp Moriah in south Kansas City. The tepee featured during the evening was donated from the recent Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art exhibit “Plains Indians: Artists of the Earth and Sky.”
In all, 68 youth and adults were “tapped” or “called out,” officially inducting them into the honor society. Scouts do not know they are being “tapped” or “called” until the ceremony. To be eligible for the Order of the Arrow, a Scout must hold the First Class rank, attend 15 days and nights of camping in the two-year period prior to election, and then be nominated and selected by fellow Scouts. For over 95 years, this national process has recognized Scouts who best exemplify the ideals of Scouting.
Julia Day helped prepare the costumes for the ceremony. Her husband, Rob Day, is Scoutmaster of Troop 10, which meets at Prairie Star Middle School in Leawood and is chartered by the Leawood Lions. Their family has been involved in the Scouts since 2002.
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“Eagle Scouts helped with the sound, tending the fire and more,” she said. “I love it when the older boys just keep coming back because it means they’ve bonded.”
The participating Scouts in Saturday’s ceremony were from Troop 10 and Cub Pack 3010 of Leawood Elementary School and Scout troops in Kansas City: Troop 16 of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church; Troop 26 of Friends of Operation Breakthrough; Troop 1006 of Second Baptist Church; and Troop 1118 of St. Peter’s Friends of Scouting.
With more than 180 Scouts and more than 50 active adults, Troop 10 is one of the largest troops in the country and boasts some of the most active members. Troop 10 was awarded “Troop of the Year” in 2014 through the Heart of America Council and Trailhead District because of its high retention, service and participation.
One noteworthy program of Troop 10 is Eagle Corps. Started about eight years ago by local leaders Patty Cokington, Jim Shetler and John Ahart, the Eagle Corps program pairs a team of Eagle Scouts with troops identified as needing additional help and resources. They offer mentorship, resources, programming support and camping opportunities. The Eagle Scouts commit to working with the troop for one year.
“We try to take Eagles who are mature and get them to work with Scouts in the inner city. It’s been rewarding for everyone involved,” said Jim Shetler, assistant Scoutmaster for Troop 10. “I’ve watched my Eagle Scouts grow and become responsible and involved in their community.”
Andre Sidney, assistant Scoutmaster for three troops in Kansas City, said the Eagle Scouts have been very helpful to the troops. The Eagle Corps program is an awesome idea, he said.
“It’s quite beneficial for younger Scouts in the inner city,” said Sidney, himself an Eagle. “They’ve been a high benefit to us for many years.”
In addition to providing an opportunity for community service and connecting Scouts of different backgrounds, the Eagle Corps program ensures Eagles continue to grow after earning the coveted rank. Eagle Corps volunteers attend the meetings of their brother troop throughout the year, attend camping trips, work with the Scouts on advancement opportunities like earning merit badges and planning the Order of the Arrow ceremony.
Shetler would like the Eagle Corps program expanded to other troops.
“It’s taking young men and committing them to helping other young men to become better Scouts, adults and leaders in their community,” he said.