By Lucia Hodges
Anyone who has been a camper at Ondessonk has strived to earn activity Arrowhead patches that are awarded when requirements, appropriate to an activity, are completed. Naming the parts of the bow for Archery, learning a Boondoggle stitch for Handicrafts, or building a one-match fire for Woodsmanship may be some of the skills Arrowhead seekers are asked to demonstrate.
However, Ondessonk did not always award the coveted Arrowhead for expertise in activities. Beginning in 1959, Camps’s first summer, the Arrowhead patch had three predecessors.
The hand-molded, hand-painted clay BEAR CLAW was the prize in 1959. The claw was painted a different color for each activity, green for Nature, black for Horsemanship, and so forth. Since I wasn’t a camper that year, I don’t have one for illustration.
I am very pleased and proud to share a photograph of my one and only TONGAN awarded in 1960 for my Horsemanship prowess. The story and circumstances surrounding my earning this prize are stamped in my memory as if it happened yesterday. I was able to do what barn staff, Maria Skye, asked me to do in a potentially perilous situation. This little black leather circle means more to me than the Olympic Gold.
Summer 1961 introduced the Cochina as the award for excellence in a camp activity. Beads strung on a piece of yarn were color coded to each activity. I don’t recall all of the colors, but of course I remember black for Horsemanship, green for Nature, and red for Handicrafts.
What I don’t know and can’t imagine is who was responsible for producing the HAND MADE Bear Claws, Tongans, and Cochinas. I’m sure it took many hours and a great deal of patience to supply enough for an entire summer of campers. It could have been that each activity head was responsible for supplying his own. Or…. was it another example of how and why Ondessonk could never have thrived without its amazing VOLUNTEER family. Heepwah!
P.S. Couldn’t resist the opportunity for a plug!