Ottertail Country

Ottertail Country
Ottertail South

July 9, 2009

Wednesday night at Tesomas....


We took a trip to Camp Tesomas last evening. Peggy had talked to uncle Russell Mattson a few weeks ago about his scouting experiences. He was named "Scouter of the Year" (I think) quite a few years back, an award given out for volunteer involvement in the Samoset Council Boy Scout program. He also was to be awarded the Order of the Arrow, another acknowledgement of ones time and efforts in the scouting program. Here's a link to another interesting site. Some circumstances prevented him from being able to accept this award, which required the inductee to spend the following night in the woods alone and then spend the next day preparing the council fire for the next week, other hard labor around the camp and no speaking from the time of selection thru the completion of their "ordeal" the following day. Before I get to sidetracked, above is Russell with his granddaughter Margaret and her children and husband..... in the Shoshone Campsite where Nick (Margaret's son) was camped. See the map location 'C'.
Be sure to double click these photos to enlarge, then click the 'back arrow' to return to post.

Hmmm... a bear trap directly across the path from Nick's camp. Oh, well....
Anyway, Russell said that missing the Order of the Arrow was one of the biggest disappointments in his life. Peggy took note of that and sent some emails to scouting acquaintances of hers, inquiring about Russ getting the award now. The Order director was very amenable to this idea and said we should come the next week!!

Here are Margaret and Nick. Very nice people, indeed. We visited the Shoshone Camp for a while, then it was time to get down to the Council Ring for the OA Ceremony.

I had called Rosy and Bob in regard to this event, and Bob came up to come to Tesomas with his dad. Bob was a recipient of the Order when we were in scouts together. Seems like a long time ago......

The camp officials had allowed us to drive Russell back to Shoshone and then circling around to the Council Ring, map item #11.

And here they are, ready to hike the path to the council bowl. Russell had no concrete knowledge of what the real purpose was of this trip to camp, but he was a good sport and went along with whatever we asked of him.

As you can see, this bowl is quite large, circled by big Pines, oaks, maples, birch and poplar. It is just across Indian Ridge from Crystal Lake. I remember swimming and canoeing in that lake when I was at camp. The ground is fixed up in some interesting patterns and colors and the council fire sits ready for lighting.

On the far side of the ring is a tipi and a drum with two drummers (not visible here).

Just before most people are let in, they light a series of wax flame thingies in those red spots you see above. We were allowed in a little early to get Russ settled, then the family of campers and visitors were sent in and were seated in the upper areas.

By this time all the camping scouts had filed in and taken seats in the lower areas. There were alot of kids and people there. This ceremony is very solemn and no talking or noise is allowed. It's pretty cool.....

At one point in the ceremony, two 'Indians' run in with flaming torches and light this giant fire. By the end of the ceremony it is quite a blaze!

Flash photos were forbidden, so I didn't get much else until just after the ceremony. As you can see, Russ now has his Order of the Arrow sash!!

By the time we were done, it was dark and we made our way out of the bowl and back to the road. Russell was quite a trooper in all this, lots of walking and sitting at the bowl on the ground (with a thin cushion) for 1.5 hours. I hope I feel like doing this stuff when I'm his age. He turns 95 in a week or so!

Just outside the bowl arch, we waited for the arrival of Russ' car. Russ looked tired, but also had a satisfied look about him. It really was a nice evening.

I think Peggy was just as excited about this as Russ was! She has been assistant scoutmaster in Phillips for 23 years and spending a week at Tesomas with her troop for that many years, as well.
I had told my mom that we were going to be doing this, and she sent an email today:

Am wondering what happened with Russell???? Did he go to the Scout affair with you??

Love, Lucy

And Peggy answered:

Well, yes, and no… :-)

He went over there, but he went with Margaret and her daughter, and Bob. Margaret’s son was AT camp this week, so they were going to go over there anyway, (that’s what it sounded like)… Gene had talked to Bob on Tuesday after we found out for sure that “all was a go”…. And he “buzzed up” on his motorcycle just before they left to go to Rhinelander. Margaret’s husband and daughter met us over there… and all of them, Gene included, went over to visit the son, out at his campsite, while I went up and took care of “business”…

The ceremony was nice…. And they “tapped” Russell out, just like the rest of the special inductees (into the order of the arrow)…. but, for Russell, at the end of the ceremony, the lodge chief and his two assistants, came back up to Russell and presented him with a sash….and put it on him. And the whole place applauded. Not once in my 23 years, have I ever witnessed applause at the ceremony….. It was so cool…. People that we didn’t even know came up and congratulated Russell. All in all… time spent well…. (I was still so excited that I had a hard time sleeping last night)…

Gene took a lot of pictures, and another fellow there took a video and said that he will send it to Gene.

I think that everyone was happy to have made the trip, and I’m just glad that it all worked out so well.