Looking Back: The First Year of G16

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

2022 kicked off for the section much like how 2021 ended – full of change and excitement. 

Following the Order of the Arrow’s national restructuring, we left Section W-1S and the Western Region behind us and became Section G16 or the newly formed Gateway Region. It was a bittersweet ending to an identity our section had carried for more than a decade, rich with memories and history. As we reflected on our time as W-1S, we also couldn’t help but wonder… what next?

Dirk Smelser scaled e1672468642703

That question was soon answered when news broke that our very own section chief, Dirk Smelser, had been elected to serve as the first-ever chief of the new Gateway Region during the 2021 OA National Planning Meeting, becoming the fourth national officer to be elected from our section since 2014 and the first-ever national officer from Lo La’Qam Geela Lodge. Less than 24 hours as Section G16 and we had an Arrowman serving at the national level!

“Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365-page book. Write a good one.”
— Brad Paisley

In January, the Council of Chiefs (COC) met in Eugene, OR. The first order of business… elect a new section chief. Then section secretary Benjamin Flores of Wauna La-Mon’tay Lodge was elected to serve as section chief, filling the vacancy left by Dirk’s election to region chief. Dustin Graves of Tsisqan Lodge was elected to fill Benjamin’s vacated position of section secretary. Following the election, the COC began planning the 2022 Section G16 Conclave. 

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
— African Proverb

In March, Arrowmen from across the section and the region gathered at Camp Kuratli in Boring, OR for the National Leadership Seminar (NLS) and Developing Youth Leadership Conference (DYLC). The two premier training events, hosted by the Gateway Region, returned to our section’s area for the first time in five years where dozens of youth from our section learned how to be better leaders back in their units, chapters, lodges, and in their personal lives. 

The first half of the year was a great time for our lodges. In the early months of 2022, our lodges held fellowship and training events for their members, including the Lo La’Qam Geela Spring Fellowship, Tsisqan Workshop Weekend and Service Weekend, and Wauna La-Mon’tay Inductions and Ceremonies Conference and Spring Fellowship. The start of spring also marked the start of induction season for our lodges with each lodge holding one or more induction weekends where they widened their circles and welcomed new members into our Order. 

“We may never see the end result of our service, but that is the mark of a leader. The dawning of a new chapter in our Order is before us. Your light illuminates the new day. Our time is now. Tomorrow Begins Today!”

Tomorrow Begins Today! That was the theme for over 6,500 Arrowmen from across the country who gathered at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville for 2022 National Order of the Arrow Conference (NOAC). This was the first in-person national Scouting event since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and Arrowmen were excited to gather together for a week of training, activities, competitions, fellowship, and inspiration. Our section was well represented with all three of our lodges sending strong contingents and many more Arrowmen serving on staff.

One of the highlights for our section during the week was when one of our own Arrowmen, Mike Johnson of Tsisqan Lodge, was presented with the Distinguished Service Award. 

From the newly added affinity spaces and evening shows to the section gatherings and patch trading, NOAC was a memorable experience. Make sure to check out our full reap of NOAC 2022. 

After 8 months of planning, it was time our section’s main event – CONCLAVE! The first-ever Section G16 Conclave was held on September 9-11 at Powerland Heritage Park near Salem, OR. Over 300 Arrowmen gathered for the three-day event filled with fun, fellowship, and training. In addition to the unique location of Powerland Heritage Park, this year’s conclave featured a mobile app and a special conclave-wide game, Pathfinder Trail, which connected all aspects of the conclave and united the event’s theme, of “Keeping on the Scouting Trail.” 

On Saturday evening, the section presented the Arrow of Honor to three very deserving youth; Dirk Smelser, Benjamin Flores, and Ryo Takei. Mike Johnson of Tsisqan Lodge and Dan Hunker of Wauna La-Mon’tay Lodge were also presented with the Silver Antelope from the National Service Territory. 

From the unique training sessions and fun activities, to the special programs for new Arrowmen, he first conclave as G16 was a success!

Check out our full conclave recap for more and mark your calendars for September 8-10, 2023 for next year’s conclave at Rogue Community College in Grants Pass, OR. 

Following this year’s conclave, it was announced that Vince Bishop would not be continuing on as section adviser. Vince has served as section adviser since 2018. His leadership and guidance played a vital role in navigating the challenging times our organization has faces over the past several years, and for that, we are forever thankful for Vince’s dedication and service to the section. Brian Gray of Wauna La-Mon’tay Lodge, who mostly recently served as an associate section adviser, have been appointed as section adviser Vince’s place and Chris Graves of Tsisqan Lodge was appointed as an associate section adviser. We welcome Brian and Chris and are excited for this next chapter. 

This fall, our lodges held their fall fellowship events where they elected their new lodge officers for the year and celebrated an amazing year of accomplishments. In October, our section officers and advisers travelled to Kansas City for the first-ever Gateway Region Section Officer’s Seminar (SOS) where completed training in topics ranging form DEI, to lodge support.

 "New year—a new chapter, new verse, or just the same old story? Ultimately we write it. The choice is ours.”
— Alex Morritt

That brings us to today – New Year’s Eve. As one year comes to an end, another begins. 2022 was an amazing year full of firsts and we are so proud of what we have accomplished in our first year as Section G16, but there is still work to be done. Our commitment to delivering an amazing conclave experience for all Arrowmen and supporting our lodge’s success continues to be our top priority. We are just getting started. 

Thank you to everyone who has made 2022 a year to remember! 

Stay tuned Section G16. The best is yet to come.