NATIONAL ORDER OF THE ARROW CONFERENCE
Coming back from the mountainous campus of Knoxville, Tennessee the Arrowmen and contingent leaders of Kiondaga Lodge have cached memories for a lifetime. Along with the expected activities of training, shows, and, of course, patch trading, the 2022 National Order of the Arrow Conference (NOAC) offered new experiences including high adventure experiences in the Great Smokey Mountains and unique opportunities in World’s Fair Park – the site of the 1982 World’s Fair. Acorn Boy is already excited to return to NOAC in 2024!
Day One – Monday
With donuts and high hopes, everyone grabbed their patches and hopped in the van to hit the road to NOAC. Notable sights and stops along the way included the Love’s truck stop, the I-40 Buc-ee’s, the downtown Nashville skyline, and many miles of nature and invasive kudzu. Adding to the highway BINGO card, members of our contingent also saw a wild black bear and roadside armadillos.
Upon arrival the sky gave us a wet welcome, but we soon moved into Carrick Hall at the University of Tennessee. We gathered for our first of many meals in the Rocky-Top Dining Hall. As with everything, the dining experience had its pros and cons, which for consistent over the duration of the conference. For our first dinner, pepper was extremely prevalent on the pallet for every part of the meal; the chicken, the veggies, and the sauce. However, the saving grace of it all was a selection of ice cream treats available at every meal.
To wrap up our first day at NOAC, we marched to the opening show – A Grand Opening – at the Thompson-Boling Arena, complete with an address from National Chief Timothy Reiss. After the leaving the arena, there was an aura of excitement over all of NOAC.
Day Two – Tuesday
Kicking of the first program day of NOAC, three of our members running the Brotherhood 5K. With a wave to Tim Weisling (who served on staff this year) at the 2.5 checkpoint, Luke, Linda, and Andy all finished the 3.1 miles before breakfast was even being served.
Many of our member’s morning schedules were filled with the usual training sessions and patch trading, but Jacob, Simon, and Andy took advantage of the (fun) mountain biking and canoe trek in Ijams Nature Center.
Scouting is a great program to present fun challenges for team-building. Another group of our contingent tried their own at puzzle solving in the NOAC escape rooms. Ayden, Jacob and Josh luckily made it out alive before we met again for dinner.
The arena show, United We Recognize, was a chance to publicly realize national awards including the Distinguished Service Award (DSA) and Red Arrow Award for exemplary service to the OA at a national, regional, or sectional level. This year’s recipients included many members of Section E1, previously known as Section C-6A.
Day Three – Wednesday
The third day—despite being the middle of the week—was another point of extreme excitement. As a break from training, the rush of Adventure Central provided a space for Arrowmen to experience the thrill of slacklining, stacking crates, log rolling, and much more. Scouts additionally learned about different experiences available to them through Scouts and the OA.
Lodge Chief Andy Hardgrave and Lodge Adviser Wayne Carter attended the National Council of Chiefs Banquet reception where they ate with key leadership of other lodges, the region, and the National Committee. Andy and Wayne learned about upcoming changes and opportunities in the OA. Additionally, Kiondaga Lodge was recognized for completing the Thrive Connect program.
The evening was concluded with the arena show entitled Reclaiming our Mission where National Vice Chief Steven Buer gave his address. The redrawn regions of the OA participated in a competition to decide which region – Eastern or Gateway – was best in a competition called Dueling Regions. The Acorn Lodge, of course, rooted for Eastern! Region Chiefs participated in sing-offs and dance-offs and in the end both officers were slimed!
After the show, youth members Andy Hardgrave, Luke Schweickart, and Logan Carter participated in an invite-only party at the Sunsphere. This event was an opportunity to hang out with other 18 to 20 year-old members of the OA in the setting of an ice cream social in the sky.
Day Four – Thursday
Thursday began as a normal day at conference with our contingent attending their training sessions and open activities. Lodge Chief Andy Hardgrave and Vice Chief of Inductions represented Kiondaga Lodge at a youth meeting of the National Council of Chiefs (NCOC). Lodge Adviser attended the adult portion. Both meetings discussed various ways to increase participation in the Order of the Arrow.
Next, Andy Hardgrave and Vice Chief of Activities Simon C. attended the Very Important Arrowman Luncheon (VIA) featuring an address from National Vice Chief Steven Buer and Eastern Region Chief Alex Pillis each gave an address to the leaders and up-and-coming OA members.
For the afternoon, the UT Student Union was the place to be. On the second level of the Union, Andy, Luke, and Simon found the trading post. Then, on the third floor, they checked out the Goodman Edson Observatory (GEO) and, new to the conference, Affinity Spaces. The GEO was filled with Scouting Memorabilia and serves as OA’s museum at each NOAC. The Affinity Spaces offered safe spaces for Scouts of Color, LGBTQ+ Scouts, Women in Scouting, and Scouts with Disabilities – along with opportunities to meet the OA Admonition Team. Back on the ground level, our contingent found there was more space taken by patches than delegates!
National OAShows offered the chance to go behind the scenes, which delegates from our contingent Brian Conner, Linda Schweickart, Luke, and Joshua R. quickly signed up for. They learned about what goes into the large-scale shows at NOAC and challenges specific to the Thompson-Boling Arena.
The final program for the evening was the Eastern Region Gathering. Upon entry, all Arrowmen were given ten trading cards. Then – in order to complete a set – attendees traded with others at the gathering. For the section gathering portion, Section E1 served cookies at their table. The festivities came to a close due to expected rain but patch trading continued in our residence hall.
Day Five – Friday
As a start to the final program day of NOAC, Luke raced in the Dave Alexander Brotherhood Triathlon coming in second place for his age category. After breakfast, the main event of the day was the Ignite Festival. Complete with booths from many lodges were endless opportunities for fun and often times a good treat or giveaway. Kiondaga picked up our pop-up canopies from the used gear sale.
As the conference festival came to a close, Andy, Josh, and Jacob S. toured the Arrowman Conservation and Environmental Sustainability (ACES) Village. This area included information about Order of the Arrow High Adventure opportunities and education about limiting outdoor impact.
As a contingent, our contingent shared roses and thorns for NOAC. Each delegate shared their best and worst experiences and key takeaways from this event. Adult Contingent Leader Brian Conner individually recognized each member of the contingent for their personal grown during the conference and gifted each of them a NOAC 2022 challenge coin. The contingent left inspired to see the final show – and were reminded that Tomorrow Begins Today.
The closing show – The Fire – was a dramatic conclusion to the conference and inspired our delegates. Following the show, Andy, Luke, and Jacob S. encouraged other contingents and Arrowmen to meet Acorn Boy and give our mascot a high-five.
Day Six – Saturday
The entire contingent arose early in the morning to leave promptly from UT back to our Evansville council headquarters. The contingent stopped first at Pilot where Linda made a dessert-coffee drink, and then for lunch at Chick-Fil-A.
Delegates shared fun memories and good laughs – but slept most of the way home after a busy week.
Andy addressed the contingent with the following after everyone completed the roses and thorns before the closing show of the conference. With the theme of NOAC 2022, “Tomorrow Begins Today,” the future of the Order of the Arrow and our own lodge was discussed with consideration to our lack of having a camp of our own. He requested the members of the contingent, as well as everyone in the lodge, keep these words in mind amidst the unavoidable irksome tasks and weighty responsibilities.
“The Order of the Arrow is a thing of the spirit rather than of mechanics. Organization, operational procedure, and paraphernalia are necessary in any large and growing movement, but they are not what count in the end. The things of the spirit count.”Dr. E. Urner Goodman
We look brightly into the future with the words of our founder in our thoughts. For Kiondaga Lodge, Tomorrow Begins Today.