The NOAC 2015 scenic design team is building something special

B.J. Karlsen builds sets for a living in Las Vegas. But during this week’s National Order of the Arrow Conference in Michigan he has given up a week’s vacation to, well, build sets for free.

Karlsen, like all the volunteers here, has paid to attend NOAC. He’s one of 21 members of the scenic design team that creates the stunning sets used during the NOAC shows at the Breslin Student Events Center at Michigan State.

He gets no paycheck. It’s Day 3 of NOAC, but Karlsen still hasn’t walked around to check any of it out. He hasn’t seen anything but the temporary scenic design shop set up in one of the Breslin Center parking lots.

Most of the Arrowmen who watch the jaw-dropping nightly shows will never get to thank Karlsen or his team for their days and days of work. But they aren’t doing this for the glory. They’re doing it for something bigger. 

“We’re helping mold the future leaders of our country,” Karlsen said. “We’ll help deliver Scouting’s message any way we can.”

That means a tight-knit group of people from across the country working from 8 a.m. to midnight daily to get the job done.

They’re handed the show scripts a few days in advance and get to work, turning ideas on paper into imposing sets designed to wow Arrowmen in the front row, the upper deck and everywhere between.

Jack Jones, a carpenter and longtime Scouting volunteer, is another of the scenic directors. He sees an additional benefit to the work his team has undertaken.

Many of the 15,000 people who watch the shows at NOAC won’t see anything else like this in their lives. They won’t go to a Broadway musical or see Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas. So Jones, Karlsen and the team have to get this right.

“We go out of our way to make our shows spectacular,” Jones said. “Some of these kids will never see a show like this again in their lifetimes.”

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About Bryan Wendell 2893 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.