Cactus Honor Fraternity

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How Ole Man Got His Nickname…
Indian mounds on the parade grounds, local folklore about hermits and campfire stories about insane scientists blowing up part of Kyle Mountain were any young boy’s dream. Worth Ranch became the adopted camp of Troop 32.

An idea was borne that would last many years within the troop. A brotherhood called ”The Cactus Honor Fraternity” (CHF) was formulated with its own ceremonies and rituals based on a steadfast purpose to support Troop 32 and preserve Worth Ranch. The motto of the fraternity was “We Stick.” Boys who were invited were foresworn to the continuation of the troop, preservation of Worth Ranch, and subject to various secret initiations prepared by its members.
They elected a President, a Secretary and conducted an annual Thanksgiving campout. Each member was given a nickname while minutes of their activities were kept in a kind of “Pig Latin” language. It was during this time that Scoutmaster Gillespie would inherit a nickname that stayed with him the rest of his life. He was partial to using a walking stick so one of the boys kiddingly game him the name “Ole Man.” It was used so often that some scouters within the council did not know his real name.

Another tradition within this fraternity was the annual New Years Eve meeting and party held at Ole Man’s house. The boys would conduct a Troop Leaders Council and then break for the celebration. The scouts would write up predictions for the next year, seal them in wax, and conduct various other games. Feasts were conducted with vast amounts of food and juice under the watchful eye of Ole Man and an Assistant Scoutmaster.

Cactus Honor Fraternity Many of the unwritten principles of the Cactus Honor Fraternity would be found in another organization and eventually cause its demise. The Order of the Arrow (OA) was given national status and would transcend all local organizations when it was chartered locally in 1952. Although the CHF was surpassed by the Indian tradition of the OA, it was an important innovation that provided the troop support during the Depression years, gave fertile minds a chance to create an original but engaging tradition and was another example of “Ole Man” allowing scouts the ability to make their own adventure. 

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