Salute to Scouting


PICTURED: Nina Dukes with her husband Wayne as she is presented with her Distringuished Service Award.

Nina Dukes a first in national Order of the Arrow recognition

By Timothy C. Brown

Black Swamp Area Council’s own Nina Dukes became the first person in the Order of the Arrow’s history to receive both the Distinguished Service Award and the Red Arrow Award, which are the OA’s most prestigious awards.

Throughout its 100-plus year history, the Order of the Arrow has had a long tradition of acknowledging the exceptional, yet selfless, service of its members.

The Order has continually sought to publicly recognize the deserving service of individuals, whether it be the unselfish service given by a member to their local lodge, or someone’s long-term, more distinguished service given on a national basis.

Local lodges often highlight the exceptional service of their members with a variety of lodge-specific, council-based, and nationally approved honors and awards. Recognitions such as the Vigil Honor and the Founders Award are commonly used to identify deserving individuals for lodge-based service.

For more distinguished and outstanding service rendered to the Order at higher levels of the organization, national honors such as the Distinguished Service Award, or the Red Arrow Award may be warranted. No matter the honor or award, the Order’s intent for such recognition has always been that it be bestowed rather than earned. Meaning, those who seek it, will never find it.

The Distinguished Service Award and the Red Arrow Award are the Order of the Arrow’s most prestigious awards. We are all familiar with the DSA, but many are not as familiar with the Red Arrow Award. The Red Arrow Award was created in 1967 to recognize service to the Order by non-Scouters, or Scouters who are not members of the Order of the Arrow. Worthy service is exceptional in nature and occurs over a significant period of time. The Red Arrow Award is presented very rarely, so only those individuals whose service to the Order is of the highest caliber are recognized. Only 58 Red Arrow Awards have ever been presented.

This new milestone was celebrated in 2020, when for the first time in the Order’s history, Nina C. Dukes (DSA Class of ’20) of Mawat Woakus Lodge in Black Swamp Area Council, became the recipient of both awards.

PICTURED: Nina Dukes with her Red Arrow Award, which she received the same year her husband Wayne was bestowed his Distinguished Service Award in 1990.

Nina’s outstanding and distinguished service to the Order goes back decades, first as a non-member of the Order of the Arrow, and then as a member. Her non-member service includes serving on three NOAC American Indian Activities (AIA) staffs, the first OA Indian Village at the 1989 Jamboree, one National OA Indian Seminar, and various section conclaves throughout the Midwest. At each of these events, Nina shared her expertise with those in attendance through the teaching of American Indian crafts, demonstrating the wearing of women’s regalia, and performing in women’s dance.

For her service to the Order as a non-member, Nina was awarded the esteemed Red Arrow Award in 1990.

To the Order’s good fortune, Nina was inducted an as Ordeal member in the summer of 1997. Since that time, she has served on staff at the last nine consecutive NOACs as an AIA instructor. Nina has also served on the staffs of multiple OA Indian Villages at National Jamborees, and she has served as an administrative officer during ArrowCorps5, and at two OA Indian Summer events. Nina continues her servant leadership in the area of AIA at the lodge, section, territory, and national levels, and serves as an expert resource helping to craft AIA guidelines for the participation of young women. For her service to the Order as an OA member, Nina was awarded the Distinguished Service Award in 2020, thus securing for history a new milestone in the Order’s national recognition of service.

Nina and her husband Wayne, also a DSA recipient in 1990, are volunteer chairs of the annual Black Swamp Area Council Eagle Scout Youth Recognition Dinner. This year’s event is March 12 to celebrate the Eagle Scout Class of 2021.

For more than 100 years, the OA has recognized Scouts and Scouters who best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives. This recognition provides encouragement for others to live these ideals as well. Arrowmen are known for maintaining camping traditions and spirit, promoting year-round and long term resident camping, and providing cheerful service to others. OA service, activities, adventures, and training for youth and adults are models of quality leadership development and programming that enrich and help to extend Scouting to America's youth.

The Order of the Arrow has more than150,000 members nationwide. Although the Order of the Arrow is a thing of the spirit, there are several layers of organization, each with its own role.

You can learn more about the OA at

Writer Tim Brown is a member of the Distinguished Service Award Class of 2015. Nina’s story was featured in an article appearing in the December 2021 issue of THE SILVER ARROWHEAD, an Official Publication of the Order of the Arrow, B.S.A. Additionally, Black Swamp Area Council’s Jim Mason contributed to the story.

If you have a Scouting Story to share,please
e-mail Jim Mason at

Scouting in the Black Swamp Area Council began in 1915 when the Scouting program was introduced to the young people of West Central and Northwestern Ohio.More than 5,400 individuals are participating in the local program as a Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA, Venturers, Explorers and adult volunteers. In 2020, these individuals participated in 8,069 hours of community service. For more information about finding Scouting near you, visit