The Gischachsummen, part II: Do It Right

The Order of the Arrow’s Induction Adventure has had a rich evolution over its 106-year history. For the Induction, 2021 is a celebratory year: in 1971, Jay Dunbar and Ray Petit created the “Spirit of the Arrow Show” at NOAC to introduce the titular booklets on the national stage. One decade later, the publication of a guidebook marked a new era of friendly candidate experiences in the OA’s Induction. Join The Gischachsummen in a deep dive into the Induction and explore the works of Dunbar, Petit, Bill Hartman, John Forrest, and the committed others who have shaped this experience into what it is today. 


With Part I having left off in 1971, we return to our story by jumping back in time to the 1967 National Order of the Arrow Conference in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The Gischachsummen, part II: Do It Right

“The Ordeal has a different meaning to each candidate who completes it. But most Arrowmen would agree that the Ordeal is not just a formality to obtain a patch and sash. The physical tests are deeply significant universal symbols. Lodge officials must recognize that they are more than just ‘things the book says the candidate has to do’”.

“The Ordeal is an adventure of spirit – a time of deep searching and high resolve—a unique opportunity to experience all the richness and warmth of brotherhood. The candidate needs this experience not only for his own benefit, but also because his Obligation will require unusual devotion to the work of bringing this spirit to his own Scout troop”.

Manual for the Ordeal, 1983 edition (©1981)

Following his 1965 Ordeal, William “Bill” Hartman became deeply involved in ceremonies in Tipisa Lodge. Unable to attend the 50th anniversary national conference due the timing of his Ordeal but now inspired by the work of the Induction, Hartman attended the 1967 NOAC with the intent to learn more about ceremonies and the Induction. 

Author’s note: in the process of drafting this article, I had the opportunity to conduct several phone interviews with Mr. Hartman. Throughout the following article, you will find excerpts from these interviews.

“I still have the image in my mind: I was in front of a building about to turn a corner, and around the corner of the building came this short guy and this taller guy next to him, [one of whom was Ray Petit]. And one of them, presumably Ray, asked me whether I was involved in ceremonies. Earlier in the conference, I was disappointed, I hadn’t found anything. Now, it was like I was trying to drink water from a fire hose. Ray had some literature with him, particularly [his] Handbook for Ceremonial Teams and Spirit of the Arrow booklets, and they were selling it. So, I bought the Handbook for Ceremonial Teams and the Spirit of the Arrow booklets, and I went back to my lodge and studied them”.

“Ray’s Handbook for Ceremonial Teams had a couple of underlying principles. One, he wanted to do things right. This was his original reason for getting involved; it was so obvious that the ceremonies had value, and yet lodges were reading [from the text]. He wanted to do things right”.

Bill Hartman

Doing it right means different things to different people. How is it that such a simple phrase can have such a profound impact, enough to begin a new chapter in a history book? For that answer, we turn to the Founding vision.

As An Arrow Driven Skyward

With documents now in Hartman’s hands as he left the 1967 NOAC, he was able to perceive the underlying principles of the Induction Adventure as described by Petit. Ever since the OA’s inception in preparation for the 1915 camp season, there are two concepts that have gone unchanged in 106 years—one, the concept that each unit selects Scouts for candidacy in our Order, that members who set the example of living the Scout Oath and Law are worthy of recognition and that they must continue their service to the unit for others to look upon them as exemplar roles models. Petit famously characterized this in his Voter-Candidate Contract, detailing the growing responsibility Arrowmen have to their unit upon election. The second concept is that of candidate experience—for candidates to learn the nature of the implications of the first concept, they must be taken out of the quotidian and given a truly special lived experience. It was upon this concept that the OA was built; in that original inception in 1915, the four challenges had not been fully developed, there had been two honors of membership at the time—it was this concept of experiential example setting that drove Goodman to design and structure the Induction.

Bill Hartman

Hartman, now having read through and pondered on the concepts laid forth in Petit’s work, sought to implement them in local practice.

“I took that principle, which was the general principle of the Order: you set the example. So, those principles of setting the example for the candidates, and ‘doing it right’, those were the two pillars on which I came up with this idea. Strangely enough, I actually believed that Ray’s explanation of things led to this so obviously, that he just hadn’t written about it yet, or that others looking at it surely must be coming to the same conclusions. I did not expect to be the only one doing this”.

Bill Hartman

The idea that Hartman had formulated in his mind was a complete overhaul on how Arrowmen were to conduct and behave during Ordeals. The following excerpt from The Silver Arrowhead, volume 8 issue 1, perfectly summarizes the lens through which both Hartman and Petit had viewed the OA’s Induction.

“You know Ray Petit: ‘My friend, what I have seen of you today fills me with joy, for I can tell you are beginning to see me and understand me… Why are you here? Because your unit needs you — and me’. This is his voice. […] Lodge members should serve as exemplars of the Order’s principles during ordeals and that Kichkinet should work alongside the candidates. This was truly revolutionary. At that time, the Ordeal was widely regarded as a series of tests candidates had to pass. Ray rightly saw this as a ruse: it was called an ‘Ordeal,’ but it was designed to help candidates turn their thoughts inward. The problem, as he saw it, was that members had come to believe the ruse, and no longer understood its purpose. He espoused the idea that lodges could not “fail” candidates: that the decision to complete the Ordeal is the candidates alone”.

The Silver Arrowhead, volume 8 issue 1

If example setting was the precept the Order was founded upon—the service that the Order provides to Scouting, and the very thing new Ordeal members are expected to become in their home unit—then it is an obvious conclusion that current Arrowmen must set the example during the Ordeal for the candidates so that they can learn its virtues!

“The problem, as he saw it, was that members had come to believe the ruse, and no longer understood its purpose”.

The Silver Arrowhead

Do It Right

Unfortunately, that latter conclusion was not inspiring widespread lodge practice in the late 1960s.

Scattered throughout the Ordeal, harassment was disappointingly common. In extreme cases, members actively attempted to force candidates to fail the tests of the Ordeal, and when some inevitably did fail, they were kicked out of the Ordeal altogether. Those who did pass left with the wrong impression of what it meant to be an Arrowman—of what it meant to lead in service, to learn leadership of self.

Hartman knew that something had to change. He had to “do it right”, as advocated by Petit. Hartman drew inspiration from the role modeling in units to implement the same in the Ordeal. Having role model Arrowmen alongside those candidates would achieve the same goal of the OA in the first place: inspire others by example, and through that role modeling develop servant leaders. A friend to the candidates will strengthen the hearts of Scouts, and thus the hearts of units, with the added benefit of weeding out the opportunities for harassment to continue.  That is the guiding star from which all Arrowmen take their bearing, fueled by the Admonition and Obligation.

“The strength of doing as opposed to talking, the strength of setting the example as opposed to telling people what to do, it just completely turned the [system] on its head”.

Bill Hartman

The system devised by Hartman exceeded even the underlying concepts that Petit had developed. As experienced users of the EDGE method, those role models guide the candidate on how they should act. They would exemplify a shared experiential achievement in a supportive environment. They are allies on the candidates’ Quest, who remind us that even when times are tough, we are not alone. The difference between a harmful “ordeal” and an inspirational experience is the people that surround us. The role models must be deputies of Kichkinet, then, because they possess all of the Order’s virtues and exemplify them outside of the ceremonial ring.

“Members would teach, by example to the candidates, the ideals of the Order through the tests of the Ordeal. It was already established that the tests were supposed to teach [these ideals]. I sat down with the ceremonialists from [Tipisa Lodge], who were already aware of [my plan], and I said, ‘we need a name for this system’. So I came with a list of something like 10 or 12 words that might work, with the corresponding translation from the Lenni Lenape dictionary. We went through them and talked and came to the conclusion [of ‘Elangomat’]”.

Bill Hartman

This Elangomat system that Hartman devised was unlike anything any lodge was doing previously. Up until this point, the Ordeal was pretty standardly one or two large-scale service projects supervised by a taskmaster. Harassment was overlooked at best, and encouraged at worst. The Elangomat system was a complete culture shock, signalling a similar paradigm shift of Induction leaders nationwide. That shift was reinforced by the future work of Petit and Dunbar in 1971.

“For whatever reason, when I needed a volunteer, he volunteered. And when the other chapter’s members were trying to harass our candidates like they did with their candidates, silently Eddie positioned himself between those harassers and ‘his’ candidates”.

Bill Hartman

“In 1969 Dakota chapter had its Ordeal without any changes, and [because we experienced] this “taskmaster” Ordeal system when we had this vision of what it could be really [persuaded] us to get our plan underway. [Dakota Chapter] had about a patrol worth of candidates who had not been able to go through that Ordeal and needed a make-up Ordeal. So, we phoned up the Woapalanne Chapter [who were having their own Ordeal that December], and told them,  ‘this is how many candidates we have’, and told them that, ‘we were going to be doing some special things and wanted to keep our candidates together in a group’. Tipisa has always had this belief that chapters should be as independent as possible, so their reaction naturally was, ‘of course, we’ll do whatever to help you do this your way’”.

Bill Hartman

Now having a concrete idea of what the system needed to look like and achieve, Hartman then had to find people to help implement his vision. He knew the first Elangomat had to be a youth, both in spirit of the OA and so as to really connect with the Ordeal candidates as a role model. While children naturally emulate the behavior of the adults in their life, Scout-aged youth turn that emulation to their peers. Have a youth role-model, then, is the whole purpose of the OA and easily fulfills that role of the Elangomat.

“Eddie Simmons. He was a member of my troop. He was a brotherhood member, probably a newly minted one. He was not somebody who had been to a lot of chapter functions or anything. For whatever reason, when I needed a volunteer, he volunteered. And when the other chapter’s members were trying to harass our candidates like they did with their candidates, silently Eddie positioned himself between those harassers and ‘his’ candidates”.

Bill Hartman

The Elangomat program developed by Hartman not only proved necessary for a stellar candidate experience, but it also was an opportunity for the Elangomat themselves to grow. People have claimed that Elangomatting is the best character development program the OA has to offer aside from the Induction and Vigil Honor themselves.

“The strength of doing as opposed to talking, the strength of setting the example as opposed to telling people what to do, it just completely turned the [system] on its head”.

Bill Hartman

It was there, at a Woapalanne Chapter, Tipisa Lodge Ordeal on December 12th-14th, 1969 that the history of the OA was redirected closer to the original, experiential learning environment for role model leadership advocated for in the Founding vision.

Growth

Convincing the other chapters to adopt this system was met with resistance at first. On one hand, because Woapalanne Chapter had witnessed the spectacle of the first Elangomat, they were convinced to do a total rededication Ordeal where every member in attendance had to undergo the challenges in the style of an Elangomat; on the other, the old mentality around the Induction was still the profound majority. Hartman recounts times where Dakota chapter actually sent current members in disguise to other chapter’s ordeals to pose as candidates (without that chapter’s leadership knowing), where they personified that silent friend to all. After a hard night and day of harassment, those members revealed their current membership and their willingness to undergo the tests of the Ordeal again to chapter members and fellow candidates, something obviously absurd at the time. 

“I got his attention, pulled my sash out just enough to show it was a sash, put it back in, smiled at him, he smiled back, and all of a sudden his day was made”.

Bill Hartman

“I was [standing] there, with my sash hidden away in my pocket, and there were these members who were harassing candidates in various ways, trying to get them to talk and stuff like that. And they were coming real heavy on this one particular guy. And after a while they stopped, and I could see the guy was feeling kind of down and wondering, ‘am I going to fail the Ordeal?’. I got his attention, pulled my sash out just enough to show it was a sash, put it back in, smiled at him, he smiled back, and all of a sudden his day was made. ‘There’s somebody looking out for me here’. And he really got into the whole thing as a candidate and became one of those people who ran around and set the example in other chapters”.

Bill Hartman

Because of Hartman’s dedication throughout the early 1970’s and the appeal of the strength of the Elangomat system, soon the program was used on every candidate from Tipisa Lodge (and neighboring Seminole Lodge, where Hartman was stationed during his time in the military). 
This small splash spread like a wildfire throughout the nation and our Order. Hartman formed the Ceremonial Improvement Association (CIA) with the same purpose as Petit’s MIT OAC-SSE.  Soon, Induction leaders heard of the success of this new system and began to implement the same in their own lodge. The Spirit of the Arrow booklets that Hartman has used as original inspiration for this system were formalized at the very next NOAC (1971), and distinctly improved the impact of the Elangomat system.

The Manual for the Ordeal

The CIA was absorbed into the CAG in 1973, with Hartman fitting right in among the ranks of the so-called “think tank”. In 1975, the Inductions Enrichment Program (IEP) was debuted, where many Arrowmen heard about the program from Florida and wanted to know more. Dr. Goodman himself commented on the growing system promoted by CAG in relation to the larger Induction in remarks for the IEP at the 1975 NOAC, the 60th anniversary of our Order.

Dunbar:Dr. Goodman?
Goodman:Yes.
Dunbar:May I ask a question?
Goodman:Yes, I hope you will and I am here to help everybody.
Dunbar:I would like to ask you a question, I’d like to ask you: how important do you think the Induction of the candidate is to the success of the Order? Is it crucial to the success of the Order?
Goodman:Why yes. 

Oh, you want me to work; to put some thought into it?

(Laughter and applause)

I think it is vitally important, is the answer to your question. It is vitally important. If we are going to have a ceremony and for it to mean anything to one’s life, then they ought to be understood, and with each group the Elangomat ought to stick in so that he can serve. So that the young fellows, maybe anywhere from 12 to 18 years of age, may be impressed sufficiently to say:

“I’ve got to go on with this! I’ve got to make some of this come true in my life!”

Now, of course, we can’t get all the results from the first, but that’s a beginning. That is the beginning. And that’s what I think you are after here, first of all, in your life. That is the reason I am so hopeful for this company here.
Excerpt from Dr. Goodman’s 1975 NOAC Inductions Enrichment Program address
Some of the various resources available to Induction leaders from this era. From left to right: Spirit of the Arrow Booklets 1–4, 1971 edition; Spirit of the Arrow Booklet Compendium, 1971 edition; Manual for the Ordeal, 1983 edition

Over the course of the next few years, Hartman sponsored a document through CAG which detailed Ordeal administration practices. The precursor to the Guide to Inductions, this Manual for the Ordeal was the first resource, approved by the national Order of the Arrow committee, which detailed how to conduct an Ordeal, and it also formalized the Elangomat system as an approved method. 

That revision process was strongly promoted and assisted by fellow CAG-member, John “Jock” Forrest. Forrest was the first CAG member, not directly tied to Hartman, who ran an Elangomat Ordeal. Hartman writes that, “prior to his efforts, the Elangomat [crew] system had only been used in lodges where I was present. It was believed to be a great program but an obviously impractical one. Jock believed in its universal applicability where others did not. He implemented it using little more than my [notes], ultimately leading to the ‘Florida phenomena’ becoming a national program’”.

Throughout the revision process for the Manual, the Elangomat system of conducting Ordeals had only continued to grow. It was formally introduced to members attending the Induction Enrichment Program at the 1975 National Order of the Arrow Conference, where at the time it was a highly controversial method. It was viewed as “watering down” the tests of the Ordeal by some people. For instance, having the Elangomat walk the candidates out to the sleeping area and sleep within relative proximity was originally viewed as a lessening of the night alone. This was quickly shifted to a positive outlook, as it proved more safe and effective at spacing out the candidates. Quickly following the draft release of a new pre-Ordeal ceremony in 1977, these underlying principles guiding the system of Elangomat Ordeals were more clearly—and poetically—layed out in the ceremonies.

Note: The Elangomat system of conducting Ordeals in small groups lead by a trained member of the lodge has received much attention and use in recent years. The system has considerable merit and is recommended to all lodges. It requires more planning, organizing, and training of Ordeal personnel, but will normally result in a more meaningful experience for candidates”.

1983 Manual for the Ordeal

For his multitude of services provided in the improvement of the Induction across the nation, William “Bill” Hartman was recognized with the Distinguished Service Award in 1983. He continued to serve the OA, chiefly as a reviewer beginning in 1979 and eventual leader of Ceremony Advisory Group until its dissolution in 1992. Hartman is an energetic presenter, and through his many years of work creating resources, he inspired countless thousands of Arrowmen to improve their lodge’s Ordeal experience for hundreds of thousands of candidates across the United States. His primary intent? To do it right.

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