Wunita Gokhos Lodge 39

Pennsylvania Dutch Council, BSA

Wunita Gokhos Lodge was formed in 1972 with the merger of Swatara Lodge #39 of Lebanon County Council and Minqua Lodge #519 of Lancaster County Council.

Lodge #39 was first chartered under the name of Deer Lodge on June 25, 1928. During World War II, the lodge became inactive and officially disbanded in June 1947. Lodge #39 was reorganized and re-chartered on July 5, 1951 as Swatara Lodge, taking its name from a local Indian tribe and a creek in the area. A leaping buck became the totem for the lodge. Early national records show that Lodge #39 was represented at the Region 3 Meeting held May 30 through June 1, 1929, and James Fentress of Lebanon, Pennsylvania took his Brotherhood at the 1936 Grand Lodge (National) Meeting at Treasure Island.

In neighboring Lancaster County, a local organization known as the Pathfinders of the Golden Trails was converted to the Order of the Arrow and first chartered as Minqua Lodge #519 on September 20, 1956. The lodge was named for a Susquehanna tribe that inhabited the lower Conestoga Valley known as the “turtle clan.” The name is an Algonquian term meaning “stealthy” or “treacherous.”

On September 1, 1971 Lancaster County and Lebanon County Councils merged to form Lancaster-Lebanon Council, BSA. On November 30 of that year, approval to retain #39 for the new lodge was received and on January 15, 1972, the new lodge became operational as Wunita Gokhos #39. Wunita Gokhos is translated “able” or “wise” owl in the language of the Delaware. The lodge selected the owl as its totem. Before the owl was selected as the totem, a green frog on a lily pad was suggested. However, support for the owl as the official totem grew since the owl image were prominently displayed throughout Camp Bashore at the end of the 1960s. Additionally, the Lebanon County Council ran a training week called Camp Saw-Whet which further endeared the owl image among lodge members. The Northern Saw-Whet owl is native to the Lancaster and Lebanon Counties.

At its inception, Wunita Gokhos established four chapters: Swatara – North District, Conowingus – East District, Chiques – West District and Andastus
– South District. A fifth chapter was formed in 1975 to serve the Red Rose or City of Lancaster District. This fifth chapter was named the Minqua Chapter. These chapters were part of the lodge’s organization until 1995 at which time the chapters were eliminated in order to focus on strengthening the lodge.

Wunita Gokhos and its predecessor lodges were part of old Area III-E. Earl P. Lieby (died 3/2003) served as Area III-E Adviser while a member of Swatara Lodge and received the Distinguished Service Award in 1965. In 1972, Wunita Gokhos member, John Klahr, was elected the last Area III-E Section Chief. Wunita Gokhos hosted the last III-E Conference in1973 at Bashore Scout Reservation, near Jonestown, Pennsylvania.

The lodge then became a member of the new Section NE-5A, hosting the 1981 Conclave at J. Edward Mack Scout Reservation near Brickerville, Pennsylvania. Paul Reuter of Wunita Gokhos served as NE-5A Section Chief from 1981-82. A regional realignment in 1988 resulted in the reassignment of Wunita Gokhos to NE-6, where it hosted the 1990 Conclave at J. E. Mack Scout Reservation. With the re-designation of NE-6 as NE-4C in 1994, Wunita Gokhos became the service lodge for the first NE-4C Conclave in June 1995 at Camp Bashore. Wunita Gokhos was again moved in June 1997 to NE-4A. In May of 1998 at the first gathering of our new section, Dave Sargent was elected to serve as the Section Chief for the 1998- 99 year (Dave received his DSA in 2000). In January of 2000 the NE-4A Section Chief was elected as the National Vice- Chief creating a vacancy at the Section- level. Wunita Gokhos Lodge Chief, Jake Hartman became the new Section Chief to fill his term. Wunita Gokhos hosted the 2001 Conclave at Camp Mack.

As the Lodge grew, it became evident that Chapters would be helpful engaging more Lodge members in the Order of the Arrow. So in 2001, the Lodge activated three new Chapters: Tgauchso Sipo – Horseshoe Trail District, Wuliken – Harvest District and Allowat Nenajunges – Conestoga River District.

In June of 2003, Adam Heaps, the Wunita Gokhos Lodge Chief was elected Section Vice Chief. The following year, Adam was elected the NE-4A Section Chief. Adam served as Section Chief for two terms ending in June of 2006.

In June of 2006, Bob Chaballa, the Wunita Gokhos Lodge Adviser from 1997 to 2004, was appointed as the NE-4A Associate Section Adviser. Bob assumed the role of Section Adviser in June of 2007.

Phil Glover, another Wunita Gokhos Lodge Chief was elected to NE-4A Section Chief in June of 2007. Phil served a one-year term.

Wunita Gokhos hosted the 2008 Section Conclave at the Bashore Scout Reservation and the 2013 Section Conclave at the J. Edward Mack Scout Reservation.

In July of 2008, the Region again realigned the Areas and that realignment moved the Wunita Gokhos Lodge from the NE-4A Section to the NE-6B Section. Bob Chaballa retained the role of the Section Adviser until 2011.

At the 2010, NE-6B Conclave, Wunita Gokhos Lodge Chief, Josh Peloquin, was elected Section Chief and Lodge Vice Chief, Derrick Bransby was elected Section Vice Chief.

In 2014, Lodge Chief, Connor Verhegan was elected Section Secretary.