Mr. John M. Vantrease, council Scout Executive, was a driving force in the formation of an Order of the Arrow lodge in the Flint River Council. Records indicate that an induction team from the Georgia Carolina Council, headquartered in Augusta, Georgia, conducted the original “Calling Out” ceremony on October 17, 1945 at Camp Thunder. Members of the Bob White Lodge #87 comprised the induction team. The twelve candidates were tapped by an arrow, which was never broken.
Ordeal work consisted of building a fire altar at the location of the camp council ring of that day, and establishing the original Order of the Arrow council ring. This was located in the swamp, approximately 200 feet north of Thundering Springs and approximately 200 yards east of the lake dam. This site was in use for the next five years and was years later submerged by the construction of the now existing Lake Ini-To.
The large stones for building the fire altar were pulled from the hillside, near the present winter cabin, by one of the Bob White Lodge Arrowmen, and handed to the candidates to be carried to the site by the lake.
The charter Arrowmen did not receive an Ordeal sash, but a sterling silver dangle. Ini-To’s original name was Thundering Springs Lodge.
The twelve Ini-To Charter members were Ray Barron, Sammy Brewton, Paul Dawkins, Ray Howard, Arthur Maddox Jr., Dick Mauney, Jim Moore, Norman “Moose” Morris, Walter Murphy, Dick Osborne, Ira “Dutch” Slade, and Tee Suddith. Arthur Maddox Jr. was the first Lodge Chief. Howard Lodge, the original Camp Thunder dining hall, and currently used as the office for camp, is named in honor of Ray Howard for his many contributions to Scouting and OA.
The lodge’s Indian name of Ini-To was chosen by Mr. Joe Ballanger, Scout Executive of the Council and founder of our Lodge; Jack Langford, and Dick Mauney. The Lodge name is in the language of the Navajo Nation, and is roughly translated “Thundering Springs”. “Ini” means “Thundering”, and “To” means “Water”. Dick Mauney, along with Jack Langford designed the first patch in 1949. It is in the shape of an arrowhead. They cost $0.11 to make originally and the Lodge ordered 200 of them.
The first pocket flap was designed in 1955. It was designed by three of the lodge members: Terry Avery, Guy Clark, and Tommy Van Houten. The cost was $0.25 each and the lodge ordered 200 of them. The same basic design was maintained for the lodge pocket flaps for more than 50 years. The direction of the arrow and the color of the border are the only major changes that took place during those years. The thunderbird became the symbol for Ini-To and is still prominent today on patches worn proudly by the Arrowmen of Flint River Council.
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