The Order of the Arrow was founded by Dr. E. Urner Goodman and Carroll A. Edson in 1915 at the Treasure Island Camp of the Philadelphia Council, Boy Scouts of America. It became an official program experiment in 1922 and was approved as part of the Scouting program in 1934. In 1948 the OA, recognized as the BSA's national brotherhood of honor campers, became an official part of the Boy Scouts of America. In 1998, the Order of the Arrow became recognized as Scouting's National Honor Society when it expanded its reach beyond camping to include broader service to Scouting and the community.


Due to the foresight and efforts of Ted Childress and Norman Savelle, Field Scout Executives of the Gulf Coast Council, a chief and eleven braves from the Alibamu Lodge #179, Tukabatchee Area Council of Montgomery, Alabama came to the Gulf Coast Council's Camp Big Heart on May 21-22, 1948 to organize a local Order of the Arrow lodge. While here, they bestowed upon 24 Scouts and Scouters the title of Honor Camper and member of the Order of the Arrow. The charter members of Yustaga Lodge were: Thurston A. Shell, Jack Shreve, Fred Polhemus, Glen Ivey, Ray Kelly, Wallace King, Bo Sharpless, Bill Stewart, Oswald Geiger, Cecil Sewell, Ed Nowak, DeWitt Thompson, Albert Pledger, Lamar Henderson, Tiller Phillips, Charles Dial, Captain Wayne Sage, Robert Smith, Ed Crowe, Melvin Hatcher, Harry Sampley, Cdr. H.M. McDowell, Norman Savelle, and Ted Childress.

At a lodge meeting on May 22, 1948 the first lodge officers were elected. They were: Chief: Thurston A. Shell, Scribe: Bo Sharpless, and Treasurer: Albert Pledger.

The first Order of the Arrow business meeting was called to order by Netami Sakima (Chief) T.A. Shell at Camp Big Heart on September 11, 1948. The first item of business was to select a lodge name. The name, Yustaga, was chosen and was unanimously accepted by the lodge. The Osprey (fish hawk) was selected as lodge totem, and green and white as the lodge colors (this was later changed to gold and white). The name Yustaga comes from a small Florida tribe that was a part of the Creek nation. Translated, the words mean "Drinkers of the Fire Water."

The first area conference was held in 1952. Yustaga hosted the V-A conference in 1953 at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola. The lodge's first Vigil Honor member was inducted there: Richard Ploss was named, "HUN DA YE'LI" (White Quiver). The same year Yustaga held its Fellowship at Camp Big Heart on December 4.

The lodge bulletin, the "Osprey", was first published in 1957 as a quarterly newsletter. The first lodge banquet was hosted by Perdido Bay chapter on May 16, 1957.

The first Spring Fellowship was held at Camp Robbins, April 11-12, 1958. In 1959, Yustaga donated a chrome plated engraved axe to the area to originate the "Mr. Friendly Axe" award.

Fred Nowak of Yustaga became V-A's area chief for 1960. Yustaga hosted the 1962 V-A Conference for the first time at the newly opened Camp Euchee. Since 1964, the area has been changed from V-A to V-E. The area was composed of six lodges covering most of Alabama and Northwest Florida. Conferences are held yearly, usually in April, and are hosted by different lodges on a rotation basis. Yustaga has a reputation for exceptionally good conferences.

In 1963, Yustaga Lodge won first place at the Campfire Fair at the National OA Conference with "Survival in Nylon." In 1968, the lodge again hosted the V-E Conference at Camp Euchee and won the award for being the outstanding lodge of the area. This award was again won in 1969.

On May 23, 1970, the lodge building "Henson Hall" was dedicated in memory of Herb Henson, Jr., who had lost his life in a tragic car wreck.

In 1971, Yustaga won the Outstanding Lodge in the area and was named as a National Standard Lodge for the first time. In 1972, Yustaga left the old V-E section to become a part of the new Section 6 and won the Outstanding Lodge award again. The lodge continued to earn Standard Lodge Recognition through 1978. In 1974 and 1975,

Yustaga was awarded the E. Urner Goodman Camping Award, one of two in the Southeast region and one of twelve nationally. Yustaga hosted the 1976 Section 6 Conference at Camp Euchee that was noted as exceptionally outstanding.

In 1982, Yustaga Lodge was transferred back to SE-3 and won the "Mr. Friendly Axe" award at the Sectional Conference.

In 1983, our past Lodge Chief, Kit Outlaw, became the first Yustaga Lodge member to become an officer of our new section. He was elected as the Vice-Chief of SE-3. The 1983 Section Conference was held at Camp Euchee.

In 1984, a new chapter, Osceola, was brought into our lodge. The reason for the new chapter was the splitting of the old Esca-Rosa district, which created the new Five Flags and Blackwater districts.

In 1989, Scott Broughton was elected SE-3 Section Chief.

In 1991, Yustaga Lodge hosted the Section Conclave at Camp Euchee. Lodge Chief Chad Hartley was elected Section Secretary.

In 1993, the first SR-8 Conclave was held at Camp Alaflo in Enterprise, Alabama. Yustaga was named Best All-Around Lodge at the Conclave.

In 1996, Yustaga's NOAC contingent was awarded First Place for Authenticity, Third Place Overall in Dance, and National Honor Recognition in Ceremony. Awarded at conclave: 1996 Section Dance Champions, Section 1st Place Allowat Sakima, 1st Place Kichkinet.

In 1997, Yustaga was awarded Section Dance Champions again at Conclave, as well at 1st place Meteu, and 3rd place Pre-Ordeal ceremony.

In 1998, Yustaga received 3rd place for dance nationally at NOAC, as well as one National Honor Team for Pre-Ordeal ceremony, and one Merit Team for Pre-Ordeal ceremony. At Conclave, awards included Section Dance Champions and First place Pre-Ordeal Ceremony.

In 1999, Yustaga received 1st place Dance, 2nd place Drum and Song, 3rd in Pre-Ordeal, 1st in Brotherhood, Best Meteu, and Best Overall Lodge. Yustaga also sent a 4 member contingent to the first ever National Leadership Summit which was held in Ft. Collins, Colorado.

In 2000, Yustaga received 1st place Dance, 1st place Pre-Ordeal, 1st place Publications and... A 16 member contingent also showed for Yustaga at the National Conference, held at the University of Tennessee, in Knoxville. While there, the Pre-Ordeal team was awarded National Honor Team Status.

For the year of 2001, Yustaga placed 2nd in the section for their Dance Team, 3rd for the Pre-Ordeal Team, and received Best Nutiket for Robbie Newton.



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