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2015 National Order of the Arrow Conference
Bill Topkis, Alex Call Kyle Palmer – 2015 National Order of the Arrow Conference

As of May 2020, I will be celebrating 30 years as a member of the Order of the Arrow.  The first 20 years were in Cahuilla Lodge and 10 additional years have been spent in Tiwahe Lodge.

I have had the great fortune to serve in a variety of leadership capacities as both a youth and an adviser.  I have done virtually everything I could expect to do as a member of the Order, and I have been thinking about other ways I could give back.

It occurred to me that I had a lot to share in writing.  This includes a lot of incredible, inspirational, and memorable experiences.  There have been a few difficult memories as well.  The Order has been a major part of my life.

The Order of the Arrow is the reason I remained in Scouting.  I finished my trail to Eagle in less than 3 years after I joined my Troop.  I am not sure I felt there was much more for me to accomplish.  Yet, after only 9 months as a Scout, I was elected to the OA.  I found a new mountain to climb, only for me, it had dozens of possible trails going in every possible direction.  How does that work as a metaphor for you?

My first spiritual experience in the Order of the Arrow began with our ceremonies.  By my first or second chapter meeting, I had a ceremony booklet in front of me.  I spent the rest of my youth performing in the Pre-Ordeal, Ordeal, and Brotherhood ceremonies until I turned age 21.  These ceremonies still mean a lot to me, and I relish the opportunity to see a well-performed ceremony as an adult.

Without a doubt, learning and navigating OA politics helped me when I entered the business world in 1999.  I feel I have been able to thrive in corporate America because of what I learned being an Arrowman.

Some of my strongest friendships have come from the Order.  People I may see only a couple times a year are some of my closest friends for life.  No matter where you come from, the shared experiences being an Arrowman have made the basis for true Brotherhood.

And the memories!  So many memories.  Many I will share, many I can’t share, many stories I will be telling my entire life.

So, I hope you enjoy my OA section.  I want to tell a few stories, share some wisdom I have picked up over the years, include some ideas for the Order’s future, and help me understand the wonderful experience it has been for the last 30 years.

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