At the beginning of your life, you held a record for being the youngest person in the universe: unique, and unlike anything or anyone in existence. A whole life ahead: the course for you to chart, a blank canvas for you to paint, a path for you to choose. The special thing about being new, being fresh is the opportunity surrounding the occasion. It’s the chance to choose to be distinctive – to be extraordinary.
“You must choose”; words spoken by Allowat Sakima during the Pre-Ordeal Ceremony when he asked you to make a choice to accept the challenges of the Ordeal; and to represent this, to take one step forward. Life is full of choices like the one Allowat implores us to make.
The most incredible things over the course of human history have happened when people make the conscious choice to give up traditional thinking and choose to be different, to be better. It’s really exhilarating when you think about it.
Today, Pennacook Lodge stands tall as one of the newest lodges in the nation: just over one month old. Even in its infancy, the journey to get here has been a long one; if it takes a village to raise a boy, it takes a movement to raise a lodge. Over a year of discussing, brainstorming, and listening has led us to this very moment. With the close of our former lodges, and the conclusion of the first century as an Order, we’re not just turning the page to a new chapter, we’re writing a whole new book. It is our distinct privilege to have such an opportunity to write our own legacy and to make a real impact on the future of our organization. But dreams of the future are merely dreams; now is the time to act. Pennacook has been uniquely engineered to engage and involve each and every Arrowman that desires to serve.
As Martin Luther King Jr. said best, “If you want to be important-wonderful. If you want to be recognized-wonderful. If you want to be great-wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. That’s a new definition of greatness….everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” The Order of the Arrow was conceived on these very principles of servant leadership. Our admonition teaches us to love one another, and to lead by serving others.
In Pennacook, let us choose to be servants, let us chose to declare a new definition of greatness as we lead the way into the second century of the Order of the Arrow. Let us not accept “good enough”, but chose to push for excellence and, drive out ideas of complacency and mediocrity. And let us recognize that “he who serves his fellows is of all his fellows, greatest”. And with that, we will forge our new destiny as spirit keepers and as Arrowmen.
Everyone has a piece of the puzzle, and I challenge you to find yours. Whether it be running a unit election, lighting a fire at an Ordeal ceremony, writing an article, or wrapping an extension cord – there’s a job for everyone. February marks only the second month of the lodge, and I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve accomplished thus far. This year will be merely the first page of the story of Pennacook. It is up to you keep the spirit alive and continue it on, for you are the future and the lodge is in your hands. I challenge you to embrace change, to try new approaches, to innovate; because, as Steve Jobs once said – “the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do”.
So I ask you: what will we be remembered for? Will we be the lodge that strives for excellence in all we do, or settles for “good enough”? Will we embrace the high ideals of the Order of the Arrow or be satisfied with the status quo? We must choose. If we are resolved to master every challenge faithfully, if we accept the full responsibility of keeping the spirit of adventure, then let’s take the first step, together, Forward as One. Brothers, welcome to Pennacook!