Campers enter our promotion system the first time they set foot on “Council Ring Hill”. They progress through different ranks as they grow in our four key areas. Staff evaluate the growth of campers weekly and during each session, campers have the opportunity to be promoted twice.
Staff members use a number of different criteria for promotion. Each is geared to help develop individual children, and leadership is essential in both promotions and overall growth. Progress is evaluated on the basis of attitude, cooperation, service, skill progress, sense of responsibility, and character.
The highest rank attainable at Camp Ridgecrest is that of Little Chief. Once a camper has reached the rank of Scout (and is at least 12 years old), he is eligible to be tapped out for the Little Chief Test. The Test consists of the following: at about 11:15 at night, the candidates are brought down to Roger’s Retreat, the staff lounge, where they are read the Little Chief Charge. They are then led in prayer and walked to the Catawba Trail, where they are given an hour to collect wood. At the end of the hour, they must strike their first of two matches. If their first match does not light, they are given an additional half-hour to collect more wood and restructure their fire. They then must light their second match. If their second match does not light, they have failed the Little Chief Test. They may not use paper, straw, leaves or any other artificial material, to start their fire.
If either match lights, they must continue to feed the flame and keep the fire burning until approximately 6:00 AM, at which point they will be instructed to extinguish their fires. They will then be driven to the base of Mt. Kitazuma, which they will run up at a pace determined by the Little Chiefs. There will be a Little Chief in the front and in the back. They may not pass the Little Chief in the front or be passed by the Little Chief in the back. They may not take any shortcuts, walk around corners, or otherwise break the pace of the run. If they fall, they must get up again immediately and continue.
Upon reaching the top of Mt. Kitazuma, they are led in a devotion and given an opportunity to focus on the One who will continue to be with them throughout the day. They are driven back to camp and allowed to shower and eat breakfast before writing a 1500-word essay entitled “What Camp Ridgecrest Means To Me.” The essay must be coherent, relevant to the subject, and 1500 words in length. It must be turned in to the Camps Director by lunch.
After lunch, the candidates perform hard labor for Council Ring, such as moving logs, making torches and smudge pots, and dying sawdust. The hard labor continues until 6:00 at Retreat, at which point the test is officially ended by the Camps Director.
For clarity’s sake, one of the hardest parts of the test has been left unexplained until now: the silence ban. From the moment the candidates step off the porch of Roger’s Retreat until the moment the test is ended by the Camps Director (that is, for approximately 18 hours), the candidates may make no audible noise. They may not speak or even grunt. Notes of communication are allowed only to members of the Central Staff and to Little Chiefs. The Silence Ban is a very important part of the Little Chief test, because it tests the candidates’ own self control. If a candidate fails any portion of the test at any time, he is honor bound to turn himself in.
Candidates who fail to complete all sections of the test are given the rank of Buck. Buck is a rank of extreme respect and honor in Council Ring. Bucks are eligible to be tapped out for Little Chief if they return to camp next summer.
Candidates who successfully complete all sections of the test are given an Indian name and a Little Chief knife along with the sign and rank of Little Chief. They are the only campers with Indian names. Little Chiefs are the only campers allowed to talk in Council Ring. They are the only ones who may wear the blue and white war paint or breastplates. The Little Chiefs are responsible for setting up Council Ring every Sunday night. Little Chief is the highest honor a camper at Camp Ridgecrest can attain. It is also the highest rank one can carry in Council Ring.