Campus converted into grounds for Boy Scouts celebration
On the 100th anniversary of the National Order of The Arrow Conference, more than 15,000 Boy Scouts have taken over MSU’s campus
Those walking around campus trying to get to lunch in a cafeteria might be surprised to see a huge line filled with young boys and men in very specific scouting attire, or shirts with a city from halfway across the country, represented in force.
The gathering is the 2015 National Order of the Arrow Conference, or NOAC, in which 15,000 Boy Scouts from across the country gather.
“Arrowmen come together from around the world to share ideas, learn from one another and, most importantly, experience an outstanding conference that is unlike any other event in Scouting,” according to NOAC’s website.
NOAC 2015 has been in the works since the last NOAC on MSU in 2012. Crowding dorms, local hotels and most places on campus for the week, they are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Order of the Arrow.
One icebreaker activity included a game where scouts used a device, called a spark, to connect with other scouts. Scouts are awarded points based off of how many others they connect with over the course of the conference.
Published daily over the course of NOAC is The Current, the newspaper of the conference where spark leaders are listed.
The conference opened with a prayer and a ribbon cutting on Monday at the Goodman Edson Observatory, a museum located in the basement of the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center, chaired by Kyle Palmer.
“While we remember the past, we are here in the present. We look to the future and we build that together with you and your spirit among us,” scout historian Terry Grove said, leading the scouts in prayer.
One of the exhibits was the history of the national chiefs, the “head of the Order of the Arrow.” Ron Temple, it’s first and only black national chief, was at the museum signing sashes.
“This sash becomes historical items for most people ... it’s a tradition of maintaining the scouting tradition,” he said.
A scout working security, California resident Albertus Hoogeveen, said the museum was completed only the morning before it opened. He said scouting allowed him to travel across the world, from Scandinavia to Spain to Africa.
One issue, raised by doctoral student in music and former member of the Order of the Arrow Philip Rice, was the cultural appropriation of Native American customs by the Order of the Arrow, especially revolving around teepees set up off Harrison Road near Munn Ice Arena.
Rice also pointed out troop names made up of “a mixture of real Indian tribes, European-derived words and completely made-up terms,” and didn’t agree that the university should allow that on campus without some sort of guidelines.
“I would have preferred that a public university like MSU would have ... done some research and found out what the organization stood for and that they wouldn’t support that,” he said.
Though his full concerns can be read in The State News’ Opinion Section, his criticism focused on both the public cultural appropriation as well as the more secretive rituals of the group, including using Native American headdresses and antlers during Boy Scout induction ceremonies.
“Especially for young kids who don’t know any different, it’s just a really bad example to set and as a young kid I had no idea that was offensive to people,” Rice said.
MSU, however, treated campus as a venue and not an endorsement.
“Each year we welcome hundreds of organizations on campus and we kind of have a commitment to welcome groups of all walks here to campus and that’s what we’re doing with the Boy Scouts,” MSU spokesperson Jason Cody said. “We’re simply a venue ... just because they’re here on campus doesn’t mean that MSU does or does not support everything that group stands for or does.”