Hearing Your Name on the Wind

Hearing Your Name on the Wind

Lodge Camp Ondessonk Hearing Your Name on the Wind

By Pati Egan

Your Name Is Called

Most newly called initiates felt a wave of pride, pure excitement, and a little apprehension as they got up to begin the process of becoming a Lodge Member. Did your heart seem to skip a beat as your name was called? Did you hesitate for a second before getting up just to be sure it really was your name that was called? Were you a little apprehensive about walking all the way to your unit without your flashlight to get your sleeping bag (this was the norm for a number of years before a staff member went with you)?

For 66 years two or three campers from each unit heard their names called out to begin the initiation into the Lodge of Tekakwitha or the Lodge of Ondessonk. The first campers were called out from Camp St. Philip. Marge (Vail) Downey recalls the thrill of being called out while attending Camp St. Philip (which preceded Camp Ondessonk). Marge, as was likely true for all of the original Lodge Members from Camp St. Philip, felt the thrill of having her name called out as she began the journey to become a Lodge of Tekakwitha Member.

Friendship From a Shared Experience – Suzy & Pilar

Suzy (Munn) Mahoney recalled her feelings of being called out for Lodge. “I was elected into Lodge in 1984. I was a third-year camper in Goupil with Cheri (Tobin) Angelbeck as the Unit Leader. It was the first year I went alone and didn’t feel the burden of having to hang out with only my school friends and appease them. I was surprised and absolutely elated. I didn’t have far to walk to get my sleeping bag, but I was still very nervous in anticipation of initiation. Pilar Velez was a camper in another unit and we were initiated together. It was the beginning of a friendship that still exists today. I remember our service activity was soaping saddles in the old barn. Can’t remember the name of our work boss, but those saddles sure were spotless by the time we were done! And then I went on to be as active of a member as I could. I lived in Decatur, which was part of the Springfield, Ill., Diocese at the time. I got to go on a Spring work weekend of sorts in 1985. Not sure what they called it back then, nor do I remember what we worked on, but it was the beginning of my volunteerism at Ondessonk.”

Receiving Your Sash

Perhaps the most exciting feeling, other than having your name called out, was completing the initiation and receiving your sash. Campers in the beginning got them in the same way it is done today, at the Friday night campfire. This was not the way it was done in the 1970s and early 1980s. The above photo shows new members receiving their sashes at St. Peter’s Cathedral in Belleville, Ill. New members would arrive from near and far to the ceremony that was usually held in December. The anticipation felt at finally getting their sashes was evident in the faces of the new members. This method of getting your sash was dropped around 1985. It was not fair for campers and staff who lived quite a distance from Belleville.

Lodge Officials also received their sashes at the Cathedral ceremony. The Officials for each year were voted into office by the general membership at Lodge Reunion.
This photo is from an early 1970s Lodge Reunion.

I think one thing Lodge Members from Camp St. Philip and those who just received their sashes this year have in common when they heard their names called, is pride. Proud of their accomplishment at being chosen; a special feeling that you have been called to join a special group of individuals who have consistently met since 1958. Most importantly, after receiving your sash, a commitment to support the Camp you love for the rest of your life.

Lodge Council Leaders – mid-1960s. Councils at that time were called “Clans” since the organization used Native American culture and symbolism.

Click here to learn more about The Loyal Lodge of Ondessonk & Tekakwitha


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