On April 27, 2020, the Alameda Council, Mt. Diablo Silverado Council, and the San Francisco Bay Area Council voted to merge their membership and to officially create the new Golden Gate Area Council on June 1, 2020. Following the merger of the Councils, the three Lodges associated with each of the former Councils (Achewon Nimat Lodge 282, Kaweah Lodge 379 and Ut-in Selica Lodge 58) assembled a Lodge Merger Task Force (LMTF) on September 1, 2020 to work out the merger details. The task force was composed of three youth and two adult members from each of the legacy lodges as well as five members from the section/region who provided the formal direction. Only the nine youth members from each of the merging lodges had voting privileges. The task force spent three months (meeting twice a month), discussing how to combine the various aspects of each legacy lodge in order to create the new unnamed lodge. The name and totem of the new lodge was discussed and approved at the LMTF meeting on December 7 but kept silent. At the Golden Gate Area Council board meeting on December 16, 2020, the three former Lodge Chiefs had the honor of announcing for the first time the name “Yerba Buena” Lodge to the general membership for the first time. The official date of the Lodge merger and our beginning was January 1, 2021.
However, the roots of Yerba Buena Lodge go back to 1944 when the Order of the Arrow was established in the Bay Area. Yerba Buena is composed of seven Lodges from various Scout councils that have merged over the years (Swegedaigea Lodge #263 established 1944; Royaneh Lodge #282 established 1944; Machek N’Gult Lodge #375 established 1947; Oo Yum Buli Lodge #468 established 1952; Achewon Nimat Lodge #282 established 1965; and Ut-in Selica Lodge #58 established 1993). Only Kaweah Lodge #379 established in 1947 from Alameda was not involved in any prior merger.
The first event of the combined lodge was the 49th annual Winter Camp Awareness (WCA) training on January 16, but due to COVID, was held virtually via Zoom to over 250 scouts and scouters. The first Lodge Convention (business meeting) was held on Saturday, January 23, 2021 which also took place via a Zoom online meeting. At that meeting, the first Lodge officers were elected and the first patch for the new lodge was discussed and voted on. Over 35 patch designs had been submitted previously to the LMTF committee which reduced that number down to 4. Those four patches were voted on at the convention and the winning patch design for the first lodge flap was created by former Achewon Nimat member Craig Leighty. At the first LEC meeting on February 1, the discussion of a lodge number commenced. Although the national OA organization has discontinued the use of Lodge numbers, they neither promote nor discourage their use and leave it to the discretion of the Lodge. Upon further discussion, the lodge number “719” was selected by the youth and is a combination of the three legacy lodges that merged (58 + 282 + 379). In that way, a piece of each lodge number will always be a part of the new combined lodge.
During the first year, COVID continued to cause changes to the operation of the lodge. The first two lodge inductions where held virtually (one in April and one in May). The first in-person event was the Vigil weekend held at Rancho Los Mochos where 13 legacy members, attended their vigil. In June, sales of the first Lodge flap began with the condition that a member could only purchase a maximum of three Founders Flaps and receive a fourth free one if they attended an in-person event sometime in 2021 or 2022. The first in-person event for the entire lodge was a Lodge BBQ that was held at Camp Herms on August 15. Over 100 members were in attendance to meet their new brothers and feast on some chicken and other morsels by the cook team. In September at the combined section W3S/W3N Conclave on Coast Guard Island, Yerba Buena Lodge Chief Adi Sriram was voted in as the new Section Vice-Chief. An induction was held in October at Camp Herms and then the annual banquet was held on December 4. At the banquet, the new lodge officers were sworn in, the lodge neckerchief was released and awards were handed out. Over 120 members were in attendance at the first dinner which was held in Alameda at the Elks Lodge. The first official year in Yerba Buena was complete with a membership of 608 arrowman.
The second year unfortunately started off similar to the first where we were forced to cancel the 50th Winter Camp Awareness training onboard the USS Hornet due to COVID safety concerns.