Bob Osgood

The Start of




A description of the formation of CALLERLAB would be incomplete if it didn't recognize the contribution and pivotal role played by Bob Osgood.

His unique position as editor of Sets in Order (SQUARE DANCING) Magazine and his broad contacts with the callers, teachers, and leaders in the square dance field, linked with his strong and  enthusiastic leadership, allowed him to truly become the moving force behind the birth of CALLERLAB.

Bob was an innovator and a superior leader.  Without his tireless drive and skill to organize the effort, there would not be a CALLERLAB today.


By: Bob Osgood, Arnie Kronenberger, Lee Helsel and Bob VanAntwerp
The History of CallerLab


Invitations were mailed to fifteen members of the Square Dance Hall of Fame to attend a meeting in February 1971, as guests of The Sets in Order American Square Dance Society, to take part in an "Honors Banquet" and to discuss the "State of the Square Dance Nation".

In addition to Bob Osgood, Lee Helsel, Arnie Kronenberger and Bob VanAntwerp, seven others of the invitees were able to attend: Marshall Flippo, Ed Gilmore, Bruce Johnson, Frank Lane, Joe Lewis, Bob Page and Dave Taylor.

When the meeting, held at the Asilomar Conference Grounds in California, concluded, the group enthusiastically and unanimously signed the eight point charter and began planning for the future.

It was decided that initial growth of the organization would be on a gradual basis and that each person selected for membership would be personally invited to attend one of the meetings and, having attended, would be included as a member.

This was the start of CALLERLAB.


In 1961, Sets in Order inaugurated the Square Dance Hall of Fame as a means of honoring leaders who had left their mark on the world of square dancing.

Over the following decade a number of outstanding individuals were added to the list. Anyone looking at these names would recognize them as representing the ultimate composite of square dance leadership of the time. Any single one of these men might not alone be able to capture the respect of all callers, but, with all Hall of Fame inductees working together, they presented a "body of knowledge" that a great percentage of callers could respect and follow. Their backgrounds and accomplishments formed an impressive foundation for square dance caller-leadership.

"Body of Knowledge" is the keystone of any profession. It must be unique to the field and is the basis (or bible) on which a profession is formed. The "Unique Body of Knowledge" is that which distinguishes one profession from another and therefore one activity from another.

Plans for a meeting of the members of the Hall of Fame were begun in 1970, with a founding committee made up of
Bob Osgood, Lee Helsel,
Arnie Kronenberger, and
Bob VanAntwerp.

Summaries from the past ventures were studied and, following a lengthy preparation period, eight major discussion topics regarding the nature and needs of the square dancing were prepared as a partial charter framework for the potential new organization.

These were the topics:
    (1) Let's put the dance back into square dancing;
    (2) An accepted form of standardization is vital to the growth and continuation of this activity;
    (3) Caller-teacher leadership training is the responsibility of the callers and teachers;
    (4) Professional standards for callers and teachers need to be established and maintained;
    (5) Today's square dancing is due for a reappraisal;
    (6) The combination of the various parts of the square dance activity (squares, rounds, circle mixers, quadrilles, contras and related forms) should be encouraged;
    (7) The selfish exploitation of square dancing should be vigorously discouraged;
    (8) The over-organization of dancer-leader groups can pose a problem to the future progress of the activity.


A second meeting was held in July of that same year, 1971. Don Armstrong and Earl Johnston were included as new members at that session. The total membership had now reached thirteen.

Meeting number three was held in February, 1972, with Jerry Haag, Jerry Helt and Jim Mayo present as new members.

The fourth of the Asilomar meetings was held in July, 1972, when Al Brundage and Manning Smith became members.

By this time the total membership had reached eighteen. At this meeting it was decided to enlarge the group while still retaining the personal invitation method of increasing the size of membership.

The February, 1973, meeting included seven new members: Stan Burdick, Cal Golden, C.O. Guest,
Jack Lasry, Johnny LeClair, Melton Luttrell and Bill Peters. This session concentrated on plans for the 1974 CALLERLAB Convention.

By this time the total "founding" and "charter" membership had reached twenty-five and this body was designated the CALLERLAB Board of Governors. Jim Mayo was elected the Association's first Chairman of the Board.


In those formative years the group named itself "CALLERLAB -- the International Association of Square Dance Callers" and started DIRECTION, as its official publication.

Arnie Kronenberger served the early sessions as chairman pro tem; Bob Osgood served as executive secretary.

It was decided that during these early stages CALLERLAB would conduct business under the "wing" of The Sets in Order American Square Dance Society, and that CALLERLAB's home office and staff would be provided by SIOASDS, without cost to CALLERLAB.


The gradual growth, the in-depth planning of goals and the strength of its leadership propelled CALLERLAB securely into its next big step, its convention in 1974. The groundwork would be tested; its membership would be quadrupled and the "baby" would be ready to stamp its mark on the future of caller-leadership.

With intensity of purpose, CALLERLAB extended its horizons and set out to provide a framework that would result in callers working closely together. By so doing, they would accomplish goals that none of them could accomplish by working alone.