The history of Cuyahoga Lodge began with the interest of Cleveland Scoutcraft Camp Director Bert G. Reed on March 26, 1924. The camp was later know as the Chagrin Scout Reservation. Mr. Reed had heard of the fledgling camp fraternity known as the Wimachtendienk W.W. and sought information of its possible incorporation into the Cleveland council camping program. Formal application for its institution was made on August 7, 1924 by Mr. Reed. The number seventeen was reserved for the prospective Cleveland lodge.
During the 1930s and 1940s several efforts were made to revive the interest in the formation of an Order of the Arrow Lodge in Cleveland. Mr. Henry G. Shire, Deputy Scout Executive, wrote to the national council of the Order of the Arrow in 1955 concerning organizing the OA in Cleveland. This renewed interest culminated in the induction of twenty-two members on September 24, 1955 at the Chagrin Scout Reservation. The Lodge took its name from the local river, the Cuyahoga, which means winding river, and made its totem the stag. A charter was granted on the 28th of November 1955.
A large number of the first ceremonies were held at Beaumont Scout Reservation which had opened only a few years before in 1946. Some of the ceremonies were held at the Belden and Chagrin Reservations.
The first lodge lay advisor was Mr. James (Uncle Jim) Petro. Uncle Jim held this important position for twelve years. Bob Lynes, the 1959 chief was the first Vigil in the Lodge. His year as chief marked the first Vigil held by Cuyahoga Lodge. Seven members were given the honor of becoming the Lodge’s first Vigils. The following years of the early sixties were years of growth and progress. Membership increased and the lodge began to establish its own traditions by scheduling annual functions and solidifying ceremonial procedures. In 1961 the was involved with its first conclave which was hosted by Cuyahoga Lodge at Camp Beaumont.
The mid-sixties marked the closing of the Chagrin Scout Reservation. Lodge functions were then held at Beaumont. The lodge began another important traditional Indian skill around this time, totem pole carving. The first totem pole was designed, carved and painted on May 4, 1963. Lay Advisor Petro and Indian lore buff Howard Griesmer directed the work.
The years 1966 to 1968 showed the Lodge’s enjoyment of great success with a well run weekly summer camp Ordeal program. Having Ordeals take place during the normal camp week helped bring the Order fo the Arrow and its activities closer to Scouting, because it was in full view of all the campers. The Ordeals inducted between 80 and 150 candidates each time. While at their height, 800 new Arrowmen went through their Ordeal in a single summer. At the 1967 National Order of the Arrow Conference (NOAC), Cuyahoga Lodge was recognized as the outstanding lodge of the East Central Region, based on achievements through the Onward Arrowman Plan I.
During the high point of the Lodge an unexpected change took place. On January 11, 1968, Uncle Jim passed away as a result of a stroke. Floyd Whitmer became the next lay advisor and remained in that position until 1972.
The 1970s were another period of transition. The younger members, and in some cases the younger brothers of past officers, began to fill the executive leadership positions. Ron Glove was the new chief for the first year of the new decade. The lodge at this point adopted the idea of holding four summer Ordeals, instead of holding Ordeals at summer camp. Under the direction of Chief Steve Narolski and Advisor Hal Swinerton 1973 proved to be an excellent year. The lodge experienced growth and greater participation at functions. Within the next year however, Scouting declined on a national level. This decline resulted in a corresponding decrease in Lodge membership. Cheerful service continued to be given anyway and with just as much determination.
The Lodge began 1977 with a weekend training session to instruct officers in their duties as well as to try to pull the lodge together. During that same year the Lodge accepted a comprehensive set of rules to guide them in their efforts. In 1979, the Lodge celebrated its 25th anniversary with the creation of an anniversary flap. The flap could not be purchased outright, but first had to be earned by completing six participation related requirements.
Research in progress for the 80s, 90s, and 00s.
Events include: Spring and Fall Fellowships, Ordeals, Brotherhoods, Vigil, and Winter Banquet.
In addition to these activities, the Lodge performs various service projects which benefit the council, Beaumont Scout Reservation, the community and the Scouting Movement.
Our newsletter, Teepee Talk is available online or mailed to members’ homes and is published quarterly.