Order of the Forks

AMID THE BUSTLE and noise of lunch at Junior High Camp, a group of about 15 campers and counselors marched into the Camp Mitchell dining hall, each holding high a metal fork, and snaked around the room singing:

“We are, we are, we are
The Order of the Forks!
We are, we are, we are
The Order of the Forks!
And each and every one of us
Is different from the rest of us!
We are, we are, we are
The Order of the Forks!”

[audio:http://episcopalarkansas.org//wp-content/uploads/2014/07/order-of-the-forks.mp3]CLICK TO LISTEN TO THE SONG

The background noise of giggling and potato chip bags and scuffling shoes quieted and attention turned toward the fork-wielding group. What exactly is the Order of the Forks?

“It really isn’t anything, but we try to tell everybody it’s a secret society,” said Paul Ricketts, one of the camp counselors and Order of the Forks esteemed leader (not an official title).

“It’s really just us walking around the dining hall yelling about forks,” said Charlie McCracken, another counselor. Also esteemed.

Here’s how it goes: The current Order of the Forks members march in, yelling and singing about forks, and circle around one unsuspecting camper, the new initiate. He or she must stand as the current members all raise their forks and shout, “Fee-fi-fo-fum! We initiate you!” and then jab their forks in the general direction of the new initiate, who then joins the procession as it makes its way to the next person. There are usually three new initiates each day.

It’s a dubious distinction. The initiates are randomly chosen; the only requirement is that he or she has a fork nearby. There are no assigned duties, and membership lasts only until the end of camp.

So how does it feel to be inducted into the Order of the Forks?

“I feel powerful,” said one of the day’s initiates, Andrew Milam of Batesville, Ark. But it could also have been the deli sandwich and chocolate cake he had just eaten.