The 1990s – Fifty Years of Service Honors and Anniversaries, 1990
1990 was a big year for Blue Heron Lodge, as well as being the 75th Anniversary of the Order of the Arrow. In April Blue Heron sponsored an Indian Pow Wow with many Native Americans, other lodges and a huge turnout by members of Blue Heron. This event will last in the memories of many of our Brothers for decades to come. Blue Heron sent 25 delegates to the National Order of the Arrow Conference at the University of Indiana. Our brothers combined with 18 Brothers from Shenshawpotoo Lodge and rode the bus to Bloomington, Indiana. We were proud to have one of our brothers, Si Simons, receive the Distinguished Service Award. He is the third in our lodge to be recognized for this honor; Bruce Sanders and Tom Webb received this award, in recognition of their service, as youths. In addition many of our Brothers received the 75th Anniversary Award and wear the pocket ribbon with pride. In November of 1990 Bill Thompson stepped down as Lodge Advisor and Si Simons stepped in to serve for the 2nd time as Lodge Adviser. The Lodge held its annual Banquet with our Brothers in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. The Lodge also became an Honor Lodge for the first time in many years.
1991 was an active year for the Lodge with a large emphasis being placed on summer camp. After much recruitment, our staff contained 4 past Section Chiefs and Jeff Posey, the National Vice Chief. The camp had the largest turnout we had had since it reopened. The Lodge helped two Ordeals and returned to Old Dominion for our Annual Banquet. The Fall Fellowship celebrating our 45th Anniversary was attended more than 300 people including National O. A. Chief Clint Takeshita and Representatives from 4 other lodges including our Mother Lodge. The weekend included a spectacular show with a slide history of the Lodge from the first Ordeal through the present weekend. The show was chaired by Brian Gregson, who was elected as our Lodge Chief at the end of the weekend.
Participation was the goal of the Lodge in 1992. The Lodge Chief made a large wooden plaque to honor the Chapter of the Year. Attendance was recorded at each event and reported at monthly Executive Boards. The race was very close during the year, but Elizabeth River Chapter won in the end. With the emphasis being on attendance, the events were all very well attended. Curtis Gibbs and Billy Hutchings received the Founders Award at the Annual Banquet. The Manor House, at Pipsico, was given to a descendant of one of the original owners of the property and he disassembled it and moved it during the year. The Museum was removed and placed in storage until a new Museum could be built at Pipsico. Mike Coley was chosen as the new Lodge Adviser. He assumed his position at the Fall Fellowship.
1993 started out on a very sad note for the Lodge. Our immediate past Chief, Brian Gregson disappeared in a surfing accident on January 10, 1993. The Lodge, after much consideration, decided to set up a memorial fund to build a new museum and Welcome Center at Camp Pipsico. The project was Chaired by Past Chief John Boggs with Bruce Sanders serving as Adviser. The Lodge decided to raise funds, at first by selling patches and started with The Gregson Baby Blue Flap.
The start of 1994 saw Blue Heron Lodge leave Section SE-8 and move on to Section SR-7. We regretted to loose many of the Lodges we had been with for so many years, but welcomed the new Lodges in North Carolina which formed our Section. Gerald Winfree served as a Vice Chief of the newly formed Section. When the Lodge was not holding events or working on camp, the time was spent raising funds for the new Gregson Center. The moon patches became real collectors’ items in 1994. At the National Order of the Arrow Conference, the Lodge received permission from the Miss Teenage American Pageant to issue a special flap in her remembrance at the 1994 NOAC. This became the hit of the Conference and was traded by everyone, particularly those signed by Miss Teenage America.
Honoring a Fallen Brother, 1995
During 1995 it appeared that our goal of raising $100,000.00 to build the Gregson Center would be a reality. One of our past members, Jim Bergdoll, who was located in San Francisco at the time, provided a design which was sent to and approved by the Council Properties Committee. Also a program was started to have an Eagle Wall of Honor in the center which would be based on contributions by individuals. Matt McIvor took over the Chairmanship of the Gregson Memorial Fund when John Boggs became an adult. Near the end of the year we finally received all approvals and construction began on the Brian Gregson Center. The Lodge also continued its work days at camp and served lunches to anyone who was willing to come up and work on each of the work days, including the Free-o-rees. For the first time the Lodge started a March Ordeal to induct new members. This was started in order that we may induct members for the Conclave that we would host in 1996.
1996 was an outstanding year in the Lodge history. We opened the year by hosting over 1200 guests in Camp Pipsico for the 1996 Cardinal Campaign. The Conclave was Co-Chaired by Matt Tucker and John Talton, under the advisership of Jeff Irving and Lodge Chief Ike Tucker. Everyone had great fun and the new Section was very impressed with the Lodge’s preparation and Shows. In April of 1996 the National Bulletins cover story was about the Gregson Center. They called the project the single largest service project to Scouting ever accomplished by an Order of the Arrow Lodge. The figure for the construction has risen to a $105,000.00 at the time of construction. The Grand Opening and Dedication for the Center was held at the Fall Fellowship with the Museum now in place. 1996 was a year long celebration of the Lodge’s 50th year. The Lodge continued to hold 3 Ordeals inducting over 200 new members. The Lodge also did major service projects to camp holding six work days, including the Freez-o-ree. The climax of the year was the Fall Fellowship where many of our past members and Lodge Chiefs returned to celebrate with us. The Lodge had a new black neckerchief with gold arrows, a 50th Anniversary Octagon, a gold bordered diamond and 2 50th Anniversary flaps to sell to the members at the Fellowship. Each active member was allowed to buy only one of these items. In the middle of the year Region decided to bring the other lodges in the State of Virginia into Region 7, but divide the Region into 2 parts with Section SR-7A being primarily the State of Virginia and Section SR-7B being primarily the State of North Carolina.
1998 started off with a bang with the Lodge Leaders Development Course being held over a weekend on the USS Bataan. The Lodge attended the Conclave where it won the Spirit Award for the first time. The three Ordeals allowed the camp to receive the benefit of many service hours and improvements. The Section also went under realignment during the year. The last and most memorable even in 1998 was the Dedication of the Charles Lloyd Ceremonial Ring, at the Fall Fellowship, where Chairmen Glen Adams conducted the dedication in front of his fellow arrow-men and the Lloyd family.
This years LLDC was held at Dam neck Naval Base. All those that attended left with a plethora of knowledge. That April the lodge attended Conclave at Camp Bradi Sanders during the weekend members painted their faces blue, and carried strings of blue metal cans making noise and showing spirit. The lodge did very well in the ceremonies, and the sporting events. The big prize was the lodge retaining the Section Spirit Award for a second time in a row. Later that year tragedy struck the camp when the road into Camp Lions was washed out by the rising waters of the Lake. This forced the Fall Fellowship to be held in Camp Kiwanis. The lodge, never the less, held a very successful Fellowship where Elizabeth River was awarded the Chapter of the Year Award. Later on in December the Lodge held its annual Holiday Banquet, to celebrate all of its achievements and to look to what the new year had to offer.