National Did NOT Take Away Your Lodge Number

How long have you been hearing these?

Lodge numbers aren't official anymore
We're supposed to be using our council's number
New lodges can't choose a lodge number

All wrong, plain and simple.

PowerPoint Presentation (.pptx)
"Lodge numbers are not being taken away; they are just not going to be used nationally to report and register OA lodges."
Operations Update 2004-09 (.pdf)

Ever since the OA National Committee published their policy regarding lodge numbers back in 2004, there has been a huge and ongoing perception that lodges are no longer supposed to be using their lodge number. Even worse, some believe that they are supposed to be using their council's number instead of their lodge number.

This is based on a misreading of the 2004 Operations Update in which the National Committee announced that lodge numbers would no longer be used "for national reporting and registration purposes." This has also been implemented at the area and section level. This has created an ongoing misperception that since lodge numbers are no longer recognized by National, they are no longer official and therefore shouldn't be used at all. It's one thing for council use, but more and more lodge-specific literature, materials, handouts, and even websites are omitting lodge numbers.

Yes, National does not recognize lodge numbers. However, they are not prohibiting them either, at least the local level.

In my opinion, I do not see why, at least at the local level, a lodge's number shouldn't be used-- unless of course that lodge's youth membership or, of course, the lodge's Supreme Chief of the Fire decides otherwise.

Now, this update included several corporate-speak excuses as to why using lodge numbers supposedly created some kind of confusion with filing and reporting. It is certainly understandable that there could be some headaches for the office workers higher up in the organization when recording records and other paperwork. However, anyone who uses modern database software can very easily match things up with the appropriate council, especially when pre-printed forms or email templates are used.

As far as a perception that lodges are asserting themselves separately from their council-- just because they use a number in addition to a name and totem-- makes about as much sense as dumping unit numbers and having troops, teams, and posts identify themselves based on their chartering organization.

Now, this update did correctly point out that lodge numbers weren't necessarily a historical indicator. Lodge numbers used to be assigned sequentially as lodges were formed. Lower numbers meant older lodges. When lodges merged, they'd keep one of their former numbers. You could then tell where a new lodge came from, based on this continuity. In 1972 National began to allow new lodges to choose a number that was no longer in use: Mascoutens (1972) "recycled" No. 8 from Unalactigo, Sassacus (1972) used 10 from Wawonaissa, Wiatava (1973) used 13 from Wakay, etc. As lower numbers were considered by some to be more prestigious, many lodges choose the lowest available number. Because of this, there was a fair amount of bickering. Also, picking the lowest number from the lodges involved in a merger could imply that one was more "important" and that this would make it harder for the new lodge to work together.

Currently, there are only nine lodges that are not using a lodge number:
Buffalo Mountain, Catamount, Erielhonan, I-Tsu-La, Kon Wapos, Pennacook, Pocumtuc, Tschipey Achtu, and Wewikit. A tenth lodge, Nataepu Shohpe, consolidated in 2021.

However, since 2005 there as many as 34 other lodges that have chosen and used a (non-conflicting) lodge number:
2, 4, 7, 8, 11, 15, 16, 29, 32, 33, 34, 57, 65, 88, 89, 98, 102, 114, 116, 146, 159, 205, 219, 223, 364, 590, 617, 620, 636, 719, 720, 748, 804, 970.

Lodge that chose their council numbers as their lodge number, without conflicting with any other lodge:
  • 1956: Minqua Lodge and Lancaster County Council (519)
  • 1970: Hasinai Lodge and Three Rivers Council (578)
  • 1990: Nendawen Lodge and Allohak Council (618)
  • 1992: Tataliya Lodge and Grand Columbia Council (614)
  • 1993: Amangi Nacha Lodge and Golden Empire Council (47)
  • 1993: Japeechen Lodge and Jersey Shore Council (341)
  • 1993: Chi-Hoota-Wei Lodge and Buckskin Council (617)
  • 1994: Mawat Woakus Lodge and Black Swamp Area Council (449)
  • 1994: Lo La'Qam Geela Lodge and Crater Lake Council (491)
  • 1995: Ahoalan-Nachpikin Lodge and Chickasaw Council (558)
  • 1997: Kansa Lodge and Quivira Council (198)
  • 2004: Kittan Lodge and Twin Rivers Council (364)
  • 2004: Penateka Lodge and Texas Trails Council (561)
  • 2009: Nisha Kittan Lodge and Lewis & Clark Council (114)
  • 2012: Puvunga Lodge and Long Beach Area Council (32)
  • 2013: Withlacoochee Lodge and South Georgia Council (98)
  • 2013: Nguttitehen Lodge and Lincoln Heritage Council (205)
  • 2013: Kanwa tho Lodge and Three Harbors Council (636)
  • 2016: Tuku'ut Lodge and Greater Los Angeles Area Council (33)
  • 2016: Uh-Tō-Yeh-Hut-Tee Lodge and Greater Tampa Bay Area Council (89)
  • 2018: Bigfoot Lodge and Glacier's Edge Council (620)
  • 2020: Ammatdiio Lodge and Crossroads of the West Council (590)
  • 2023: Ofi' Tohbi Lodge and Natchez Trace Council (748)
and in one instance a council that apparently chose its lodge's number:
  • 1992: Keyauwee Lodge and Old North State Council (70)
Lodge that chose their council number as their lodge number, even though it conflicts with another lodge:
  • 2018: O Ni Flo Lodge and Pony Express Council (311) conflicts with
    Es-Kaielgu Lodge #311 (see below)

As each new lodge is formed it remains to be seen which number they choose, if at all! Some new lodges are officially choosing their council's number. Now, this is hardly new, but my fear is that once a lodge insists on adopting a council number that is already in use by another lodge, this could push the concept of perhaps all lodges should be renumbered according to their council's number.

In fact, Mandan Lodge #372 in some ways refers to themselves as "Lodge 194", as shown on their website and at least two flaps, including a 2012 NOAC issue and 2023 NSJ set. One should wonder what Orca Lodge #194 thinks about another lodge co-opting their number. I myself even tried to email both lodges, but of course I only got bounce-backs.
Update: now that Mandan Lodge #372 merged into Kansa Lodge #198 on 11/1/23, this issue is now moot.

According to Jeff Ansley, for a couple of years Tisquantum Lodge 164 was using their council's number (249) on their flaps before switching back. He also said that Spe-Le-Yai 249 in California was not pleased.

In doing so, in my opinion National created a huge and unnecessary mess, and should have done more to have stressed that going by council number was only an internal filing method, instead of also removing them from lodge charters. Again, in my opinion this is yet another part of a trend to water down individual lodge histories, as well as the traditions of the Order-- all in the name of conformity. As arrowmen, we all took an oath to "observe and preserve" our traditions.

O Ni Flo: In 2018, Pony Express Council's new lodge, O Ni Flo, included their council's number, 311, on their flap. Unfortunately, this conflicts with Es-Kaielgu Lodge #311. Pony Express Council's scout executive confirmed that they are indeed using 311 as their lodge number. He also claims that their use of this number was supposedly approved by national council and it is not his concern if any other council has this number!!

One Lodge per Council

In my opinion, the one-lodge-per-council policy ignores the fact that lodges above a certain size lose their effectiveness-- not unlike school and classroom sizes. The economies of scale that make councils more efficient simply doesn't translate well to the OA program. Now, unfortunately, more and more lodges simply don't have the membership needed to function. But when you create a mega-lodge, chapters often have to be created, which then end up functioning as a lodge. Why not simply allow viable lodges to continue to function by having their members step-up and support their individual district as well as their council as a whole.

I think a great example of how this could actually be done is how the Michigan Crossroads Coordinating Council #780 was organized around the four Field Service Councils and their respective lodges. That is, until they also merged in 2021.

I also fail to understand why OA section boundaries and lodge composition need conform to Area divisions that are based on, for example, how many area staffers there are, and/or how many councils that they can be responsible for. And yet, from 2008-16 two sections in Texas overlapped Areas SR-2 and SR-3.

This begs the question of why not just leave the old lodges as they were. Ask the youth officers and lay advisers to work that much harder with and assist the professional advisers and staffers. Again in my opinion, constantly realigning-- and some cases expanding areas and sections-- to accommodate professionals at the expense of the youth hurts the program at a most fundamental level. Some sections now cover several states! This means several more hours of driving, or even plane flights, for conclaves, CoC's, and other section events.

As an alternative, I would ask that we better avail ourselves of the huge resource of volunteer scouters and youth who are willing and able to pick up the slack. Indeed, that is the point of leadership development, if not the entire scouting program. Youth arrowmen can and will do more than what has been expected of them in the past, and in my opinion should therefore be allowed more of a say in these matters.

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Created: June 19, 1996
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