In July, over 640 Arrowmen from across the nation came together for two weeks in West Virginia to form Operation Arrow, the largest operating OA staff the jamboree has ever seen. With a staff of this size, the OA cheerfully gave service to all aspects of the jamboree. From helping with service projects and leading troops on their treks to ushering the jamboree shows and providing a smile all throughout the Summit Bechtel Reserve. Additionally, there was a small staff working behind the scenes that were dedicated to the task of educating everyone at the jamboree exactly what the Order of the Arrow is.
Located in the Summit Center, the Order of the Arrow exhibit had thousands of scouts and scouters visit while manned by a 25-member staff. It was led by the Region Chiefs and their lead adviser, Bill Topkis. The exhibit was rather unique because it provided a place for those who did not know about the Order of the Arrow to learn about it, while members were able to delve deeper into Scouting’s National Honor Society. Alongside the informational panels that provided this experience, there was also a movie theater in the back where everyone visiting could watch feature films that the OA has produced throughout the years. After the theater experience, guests could go take photos at the photo booths set up in the tent. While all of this was going on, Josh Hunt, a resident artist and Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, was set to create a 2017 Jamboree masterpiece throughout the course of the jamboree, right in the middle of everything. This unique exhibit helped thousands of people to learn more and become interested in Scouting’s National Honor Society.
At the exhibit, attendees were invited to take a hike down to the Summit Circle, the Order of the Arrow’s national ceremony site, and the re-creation of the original Treasure Island site. Down there, scouts were invited to explore the grounds and take in the rich beauty, while some of the exhibit staff were there to guide them through this amazing experience and make it as meaningful as possible. As guests were leaving, the staff helped to send them off with a medicine bag they had created themselves. In these bags were ashes from major ceremonies held at the Summit Circle throughout the couple years since it was dedicated, such as Prism from 2016.
The exhibit staff also helped man the OA Oral History Project, something started several years ago by dedicated historians of the OA. On-site at the jamboree, the dedicated team ended up interviewing almost 60 scouts about their personal scouting experience including National Commissioner Charles Dahlquist and 2017 National Chief Forrest Gertin. This project has been headed by historian Nik Newman for years and will provide and document the history of scouting in a fresh and unique way.
While the exhibit staff was just a small portion of Operation Arrow, it provided a means for thousands to learn about Scouting’s National Honor Society and feel a part of its rich history. The exhibit staff, as well as every part of Operation Arrow, truly represented what it means to be a part of this Brotherhood of Cheerful Service.