THE TRAIL OF MICOSAY – WYOMING TO MISSOURI
[This is not intended to be a complete look at Micosay history. For a more comprehensive history, materials are available at Parry Lodge.]
The stated purpose of Micosay is: “…an H. Roe Bartle Scout Reservation honor camping program based upon the intensification of the principles and ideals of Scouting. Micosay’s purpose is to provide a life guide for youth who have demonstrated leadership skills, set and achieved worthy goals, and proven their devotion to Scouting.”
Micosay is for, of and about leadership. Always has been, always will be.
Micosay is structured and energized by memorable customs and traditions. It is a respectful and indelible appreciation of the ways of the American Indians. It is that link to age-old elements in the development of leadership and decency within young boys and girls that Micosay embraces and cherishes.
Micosay is forever a youth program, guided and inspired by adults. Adults are brought into Micosay so that they may interpret and encourage the use and application of Micosay principles in the lives of those youths.
More than one hundred years ago, our Micosay founder brought the Scouting program to the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. His friendship with a Northern Arapaho, Lone Bear, allowed Bartle to witness firsthand that tribe’s kinship with nature, their strong belief in the Great Spirit, and their adherence to important values.
Through this relationship a bond grew, with Bartle being taught the values, customs and traditions of the American Indian. It was decided that they should establish a Tribe in their Boy Scout camp which would be the honor of all honors going only to those who were top leaders and top campers.
That was 1920’s Wind River, Wyoming, and it remains that way in 2020’s Osceola, Missouri.
The Heart of America Council stands tall throughout the world in the number of Eagle Scouts it has produced. Micosay is 85,000-some strong. Our Inner Circle has not been broken in spirit.
Micosay is for, of and about leadership. Helping youth to look wide-eyed up to the stars and follow the trail to Eagle.
Ours is an amazing legacy. One that is still being written.
The history of Micosay centers on a magnetic man. An extraordinary motivator, he got more from those around him than they ever believed they could achieve. A genius with boundless energy and endless love for making Scouts –and Scouting—ever better.
This amazing man was H. Roe Bartle.
Indeed, Bartle’s leadership qualities and mere presence were hard to ignore. At six feet, three inches tall, and more than 300 hundred pounds, his was a noticeable presence in any room. His deep, baritone voice accompanied skill as a talented orator. It is not exaggeration that he could speak from the floor of Municipal Auditorium and not use a microphone.
Unfortunately, many members of today’s members of Micosay did not have the opportunity to know Bartle, the man. But if you have been associated with the Scout movement in the Heart of America, you certainly know of Bartle, the legend.
History and Milestones of Micosay
Among the huge rocks and scraggly pines of Riverton, Wyoming, a new idea was born in the early 1920s that would come to mean a unique way of life to thousands of Kansas City-area Scouts and Scouters.
Late in 1922, H. Roe Bartle, then a young southern Scoutmaster and lawyer, was persuaded by the officers of the newly founded Boy Scouts of America to become the first Scout Executive of the Central Wyoming Council in Casper, Wyoming. The Scouting movement itself was barely ten years old and Scout executives were encouraged to find exciting ways to enhance the basic program of strengthening outdoor skills and building self-confidence. Many different honor camping organizations developed across the United States at this time.
From the beginning, Roe Bartle became very interested in the rich heritage, culture and ideas of Native Americans. At the same time, an Arapaho Chieftain found himself interested in Scouting and became Scoutmaster for a troop on the nearby Wind River Reservation. He was the notable son of the late, legendary Chief Lone Bear, the last great Arapaho “peace chief.”
Upon graduation from Carlisle Institute, the son – also named Lone Bear – returned to carry on his father’s desire to help the youngsters of the Wind River Reservation learn and grow. Bartle spent many hours listening to the son and his friends discuss their traditions…their brotherhood with nature…their strong belief in the Great Spirit…and their adherence to fundamental values. The younger Lone Bear, an older man himself at the time, also was eager to share his knowledge with this youthful, energetic Scout leader and to bring the advantages of Scouting to the boys on his reservation.
After a less than satisfying (to Bartle) summer camp during his first year, he started work on a more permanent summer camp for the growing Wyoming Council. He found it in a great canyon on then-Governor Robert D. Carey’s ranch, known as “Careyhurst.” It was a beautiful place for camping with a stream that cascaded down the mountainside. It was then, as Bartle prepared the council for its inaugural year at this new camp, a special decision was made. One that reverberates through our hearts today.
“I decided we should establish a Tribe in Boy Scout camp which would be the honor of all honors going to those who were top leaders and top campers,” Bartle said. He convened a meeting with Lone Bear and two other Indian friends, a Shoshone and a Lakota, to determine the name for his concept of an honor camper program. He wanted the program and its name to be rooted in the ways of the American Indian.
A special word to symbolize these feelings about what Scouting and leadership should be was given to Bartle by his friends at this fateful meeting:
From Bartle’s own accounting, we have learned that the new camp society was initially introduced around the wearing of a walrus tooth, symbolizing great wisdom and courage. Nine leaders and six boys were so honored in its first year, 1924. In the second year, the walrus tooth was changed to an eagle’s claw.
The friendship between Lone Bear and the young Scout Executive grew very strong. The wise Arapaho leader honored Roe with induction into his Tribe, made him a blood brother and, in great tribute, gave young Bartle his own and his father’s name: Lone Bear.
In 1925, Bartle was selected to become Scout Executive in St. Joseph, Missouri. He brought with him his love and respect for Native American tradition – and a special leadership program blessed by his Indian friends. Upon his arrival in St. Joseph, Bartle found that their summer camp had been using another camp organization called Manhawka.
Soon, this leadership program based on the customs and traditions of American Indians was established in the Pony Express Council and is still in existence today, although it is not affiliated with the Micosay program at the H. Roe Bartle Scout Reservation.
In 1928, Roe Bartle was transferred once again, this time to the Kansas City Area Council. Bartle enlisted the help of two key St. Joseph Micosay members to develop this new program in Kansas City, Joe Scanlon and Eb Thresher. Under Bartle’s skillful leadership, Mic-O-Say quickly became a vital force; first, in 1929 at Camp Dan Sayre near Noel, Missouri, and then on the banks of the mighty Osage, from 1930 to today.
It was in December of 1929 that Roe Bartle and about a dozen other men dedicated to Scouting took money from their own pockets and purchased the first 468 acres of land near Osceola, Missouri, at the price of only fifty cents an acre. In 1955, a second camp at Osceola opened. The original camp was called “Camp A” and the new camp was known as “Camp B.” Thankfully, more creative minds prevailed and Camp A and Camp B soon became Camp Wigwam and Camp Sawmill respectively. In the 1960s, Kansas City-area Scouting continued to grow in strength and popularity. So much so that a third camp –Camp Frontier—was added to the Bartle Scout Reservation in 1962. [Today, the H. Roe Bartle Scout Reservation has grown to more than 4,000 acres.]
The evolution of our Micosay program has been reflected in its growth from the moment Bartle arrived as Scout Executive of the Kansas City Area Council (now Heart of America Council). Forty-four boys and men became members that first summer at Noel in 1929. By 1932, at Camp Osceola, Micosay membership had grown to 303. By 1945, Micosays numbered near 3,000. It is interesting to note –and difficult to comprehend today—that nearly half of the total membership of Micosay at that time, 1,400 Tribesmen, were in the military. By 1977, more than 35,000 Micosays had joined the Inner Circle. In 2022, our ranks had swelled to more than 85,000.
On June 12, 1979, a special ceremony heralded the beginning of our 50th Anniversary Celebration. Sweetgrass from Wyoming where our founder, H. Roe Bartle put his inspiration into reality, was secured for use in the ceremony.
On June 12-13, 2004, Micosay in the Heart of America Boy Scout Council celebrated its 75th Anniversary with many special events honoring the seventy-five years of our Inner Circle never being broken in spirit.
The Gift of Abiding and Everlasting Friendship
The inspiration for our Micosay program, including the very word, “Micosay,” was a gift generously given to H. Roe Bartle by his American Indian friends on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. The year 2022 marked a special milestone: the 100th anniversary of Bartle’s arrival at Wind River, where he met his namesake, the son of Northern Arapaho Chief Lone Bear.
It was with those memories and feelings of tradition and friendship, that the invitation was extended by the Northern Arapaho to Micosay leaders to learn more about the Arapaho community and continue discussions.
In December 2021, leadership of the Heart of America Council and Micosay represented Scouting and the Micosay programs as guests of the Northern Arapaho tribe.
At an Arapaho Business Council meeting, an elder thanked Micosay for never forgetting Chief Lone Bear. He told the people at the meeting that, each time Micosay assembles, we honor the spirit of his Grandfather Lone Bear.
After reviewing our program, tribal elders agreed that the “everlasting friendship” part of Micosay –written 100 years ago—was done with purpose and they happily support the rekindling of this relationship.
In a series of visits throughout the spring of 2022, a contingent of our leadership returned to Wind River and renewed a bond with the leadership and members of the Northern Arapaho –a gratifying and educational opportunity.
Arapaho elders and Lone Bear elders were presented a detailed overview of the Micosay program, describing in particular the process of our youth becoming Braves in Micosay. Arapaho Elders have suggested that several components of Micosay are aligned with the old ways of working with youth.
In the spirit of deep, abiding and everlasting friendship, the Northern Arapaho tribal business council gave Micosay their tribal flag to fly over our H. Roe Bartle Scout Reservation.
We are committed, as asked, by the Arapaho Business Council, the Economic Council and Tribal elders to help re-establish a Scouting program on the Wind River Reservation.
Bartle’s legacy lives on. It is well.