Echockotee Lodge was founded in 1941, with an initial Ordeal held at Camp Echockotee on May 9th of that year. The first Ordeal class of 36 candidates was made up of youth and adults selected by a council committee, for their prior service to Scouting and the Summer Camp program. The initial totem of the fledgling Lodge was the alligator, but in an organizational meetings that summer, the totem was changed to that of the left-handed handclasp, and the name of the camp was adopted as the Lodge name ("Echockotee" is a Seminole word meaning "we are brothers"). For many years the Lodge was active with Summer Camp activities, holding meetings at the end of camp or occasionally at the Seminole Hotel in Jacksonville during the year. Echockotee hosted the first state-wide gathering of lodges, called Area Meetings in 1945, 1946 and 1947 (among the first of such gatherings in the country). Not until the mid-1950's did regularly scheduled lodge weekends take place away from Summer Camp, as Echockotee does today.
The Lodge undertook a major portion of the maintenance of Camp Echockotee at Fellowships and Service Days, and did the same when the North Florida Council developed Camp Shands as a new summer camp in 1967. Since then, the Lodge has held all of its fellowship weekends at Shands. Besides the work done to make Shands the facility it is today, the Lodge worked hard to dominate many of the inter-lodge competitions held at the Area Conferences, building healthy rivalries and traditions that continue to this day. The development of the Dance Team started in the late 1950's and many members have won awards in the Area (now Section) and National level in this field of competition.
In the 1970's, Echockotee built on its legacy of service with additional fixtures at Camp Shands, building the obstacle course and council ring for Section Conferences hosted by the Lodge in 1978 and 1983. Other facilities at Shands that bear the stamp of Echockotee involvement are the rifle range, ecology and handicraft buildings, the dining hall and the waterfront shelter. From 2010-2015, through of help of the Every Boy Deserves a Chance initiative, Camp Shands partnered with Echockotee Lodge to raise $50,000 to help sponser a campsite pavillion.
Members of Echockotee have been recognized by the National OA Committee for their service to the program with the Order's highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award. Recipients from the Lodge are Kevin Holloway (1977), Jack Butler (1986), Kelly Roberts (1988), Todd Leonard (1994), Greg Hazlehurst (1996) Todd Turner (1998), David Strebler (2000), and Courtney Allen (2004).
While so many things about Scouting have changed since the Lodge was founded in 1941, some principles remain constant, the most salient being the dedication of Echockotee to the principles of the Order, service to Scouting, and devotion to the camps and camping programs of the North Florida Council.For more of our history, check out our history files!!!