Through the years the scouting program at the Beatrice State Developmental Center, like scouting programs across the country, has provided people with opportunities to learn useful skills, provide community service and experience nature and the outdoors through trips and annual Boy Scout camps.
Scouting helps people gain confidence and become better citizens, and it has been a BSDC tradition for many years.
BSDC’s Boy Scout Troop 216 was chartered Jan. 1, 1960.
Since that time, hundreds of residents and staff have been part of Troop No. 216. Of the scouts still living on campus, three men in particular have been model scouts for most of their lives.
These men have recently received the recognition they so richly deserve by receiving one of Boy Scouts’ highest honors, induction into the Order of the Arrow.
The Order of the Arrow, founded at a scout camp near the Delaware River, uses these words from the Delaware Indians as their motto: “Wimachtendienk Wingolauchsik Witahemui.” The words mean Brotherhood of Cheerful Service, which says a lot about the Order of the Arrow.
In 2006, BSDC Boy Scouts John Hoesing, Bill Lux and Carl Vacanti were invited to be initiated into the Golden Sun Chapter of the Order of the Arrow, a national honorary service organization for anyone involved in scouting who exemplifies the values of the “Scout Oath” and the “Scout Law.”
Unfortunately, these men weren’t able to complete the Order of the Arrow’s traditional initiation process, called the “Ordeal,” because of medical and safety challenges, and special needs, so their inductions were all but forgotten.
In August 2011, Rob Fitzwater was elected as the new Lodge Chief for the local chapter of the Order of the Arrow.
Fitzwater, a 2010 graduate of Beatrice High School, says he has known the guys from Troop 216 since he was a Cub Scout.
He thinks anyone who has camped regularly at Camp Cornhusker near Humboldt in the past 20 years probably knows the scouts and leaders from Troop 216 as almost an institution there.
For Fitzwater, the thought of these three scouts earning the Order of the Arrow honor, and then not being allowed to enter the organization, was hard to take.
So getting these three initiated was one of Fitzwater’s first priorities when he became Lodge Chief. Fitzwater met with the Leadership Executive Council for the OA.
They talked about ways to adjust some of the activities around these scouts’ special needs, to allow them to meet the requirements in a different way.
Fitzwater got permission to use a special ceremony so these men could finally be initiated into the Order.
When the Order of the Arrow held its annual Spring event at Camp Cornhusker this year, there was a special ceremony to induct new members John, Bill and Carl from BSDC’s Troop 216.
“We tried to make it a great weekend for them, and I think it turned out to be fun for all of us involved,” said Fitzwater.
“It was fantastic to see the guys come down and complete their Ordeal,” said lodge advisor Dave Miller. “They finished their service project in about half the time we expected, so our service committee was scrambling to keep up with them. They completed their project, and the other tests, and I was honored to be able to see them as they got their sashes. They were the tallest ones in the ceremony circle, if you measured by pride, and they are most deserving.”
The extraordinary efforts made to include them was both a poignant culmination to the years of Scouting traditions at BSDC, and a testament to the quality of young men the scouting program can produce.
“I felt we had valuable members in our Council who were deserving of being in scouting's national honor society,” Fitzwater said. “These three guys have fully completed the requirements, and have gone above and beyond. They are an example to live by. The Order of the Arrow is a brotherhood of cheerful service, and no matter what the task is, these guys do it with a great big smile on their faces. Saying no is not in their vocabulary when it comes to helping someone else. I’m honored to have them in the Order of the Arrow as my brothers in the Order.”