Tribal Members have many talents that take them down many paths far from the hills of Osceola. One who has become an accomplished musician – a “first chair,” so to speak – is Tom Wieligman, now on the faculty of the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, Bloomington. We could say he once played “first chair” for the Tribe as a Mic-O-Say Advisor at Bartle.
Known in the Tribe as Sagamore Slippery Creek, Tom’s earliest memories of the Tribe were as a camper looking up to “any staff man who had claws around their neck,” but especially Camp Wigwam Program Directors Mike Sulgrove and Alan McDermott. Tom says they were “special people in all ways” to him.
Tom’s Scouting career started out with Troop 267 in Independence, MO. He went to camp the first time in the summer of 1971, 3rd session in Campsite Kickapoo. He remembers that first, special evening of exposure to the Tribe. “My first Call Night,” he says, “did what I felt it should do for every young Scout: a mixture of awe, of shock, a little bit of fear, and a huge desire to get to the point in Scouting where I might be called to be a member.”
Tom and his blood brother Bob Lewis (Warrior Little Burning Red Flame) came into the Tribe in 1974. He remembers well THAT Call Night! “Will Krahenbuhl (Medicine Man Big Lasting Eagle) was there, he made SURE the runner was tough on me! Since my dad had gone to East High School and had Pappy Grube as a teacher, I also received a little special attention from Chieftain Lone Star!”
That wasn’t the last time Tom wound up on the wrong side of Chieftain Lone Star. Tom and Troopmate Jimmie Jones went on staff at Bartle in 1976. Tom says, “We reported on June 8, my birthday. Pappy pulled me away from my table in the dining hall and gave me my official birthday spanking in front of the whole staff!”
Tom has fond memories of his paint responsibilities at Camp. He remembers building the Call Night fire as a Firebuilder; running on Call Nights, especially when he had the “privilege” of “escorting” his own Troop members; and serving at every paint station at Camp. Tom especially remembers serving as Head Runner.
But Tom says the highlight of his paint service to this day was giving the Great Migration speech at Brave Ceremony while serving as Mic-O-Say Advisor for Camp Sawmill. Tom recalls, “I don’t remember how many years I did this—to this day, I miss being a part of this ceremony. I could probably come close to giving the whole speech today!" Tom remembers how inspired he was giving that speech — and how much of it he remembers.
We should all strive to follow Sagamore Slippery Creek’s lead in keeping the spirit of Friendship and Warmth alive for those who look up to us and follow us. They, too, will eventually sit in the “first chair” of life!
“I couldn’t be more fortunate,” Tom says. “I have also been able to work with Scouts here in Indiana at the volunteer level, and have coached football and basketball at various levels while my children were growing up. (The principles) of Mic-O-Say have always guided me, and continue to be a vital part of who I am. I am hugely thankful for what the Heart of America Council provided for me as I matured; I only hope I can be effective in passing these values on to our students here and to my own children.”
Tom’s international position eventually led to a faculty appointment at Indiana University with the Jacobs School of Music, where he has been for 20 years. Tom says he works with about 1,600 students each year. He notes that his work with younger people continues each day, helping him fulfill the principles of Mic-O-Say.
“(I went from camp) to take the position of Principal Bass Trombonist with the National Symphony Orchestra of Italy, which is based in Turin, Italy,” Tom says. “Without the discipline and the training I received in Scouting and in Mic-O-Say, who knows if I would have persevered in music enough to land such a prestigious position at that point in my life. I was very fortunate—because Scouting and Mic-O-Say trained me to ‘prepare’.”
All young Tribesmen eventually walk the path away from Osceola, and Tom was no exception. He remembers having a wonderful opportunity to enter the world of musical performance.
We should note that, like many of us, Tom’s younger brothers both followed him and his father into the Tribe.
“I have to give all the credit to my father,” Tom says. “He is the one who made sure I applied, he took me to my interview with Jack Ghio (Camp Director of Wigwam in 1976). He did everything to encourage me that a father should. I’ll always be indebted to him. I also remember how special it was to me when our troop came to camp while I was on staff. Nothing was more fun than going down to the campsite and seeing your friends, your leaders, the younger Scouts of your own troop!”
Tom notes he might not have signed up for staff – and all-things-Mic-O-Say that it led to – without the encouragement of his family.