What is the Order of the Arrow? (Taken
from the National OA web site)
...The Order of the Arrow is Scouting's National Honor Society.
It is a society of Boy Scouts that functions as a part of the
regular camping program of the Boy Scouts of America. Its foremost
purpose is to promote and enrich Scout camping.
The purpose of the Order of the Arrow is fourfold:
To recognize those Scout campers Scouts and Scouters
exemplify the Scout Oath
and Law in their daily lives and by such
recognition cause other campers
to conduct themselves in such a
manner as to warrant recognition.
To develop and maintain camping traditions and spirit.
To promote Scout camping, which reaches its greatest effectiveness
as a part of the unit's camping
program, both year-round and in the
summer camp, as directed by the
camping committee of the council.
To crystallize the Scout habit of helpfulness into a life
leadership in cheerful service
Mission of the Lodge
The reason for, or objective of, a lodge is critical to achievement
of the purpose. Therefore, the following mission statement
should be used as a basis for lodge operating practices and
The mission of the lodge is to achieve the purpose of the
Order of the Arrow as an integral part of the Boy Scouts of
America in the council through positive youth leadership under
the guidance of selected capable adults.
Principles of the Order
The Order of the Arrow was founded upon the principles of
brotherhood, cheerfulness, and service. These principles form
the foundation for the Obligation of the Order. In pledging
this Obligation, one promises, "On my honor
be unselfish in service and the devotion to the welfare of
others." This is not an easy pledge to fulfill, for there
are few who live a life of cheerful service in our world.
One is not inducted into the Order of the Arrow "not
so much for what one has done, but for what one is expected
to do." Election in the Order is unique. There is no
other organization in which members are elected by nonmembers.
Any organization that inducts from the inside is prone to
lose touch with society. Election into the Order is based
on standards set by fellow Scouts. Thus the Order, grounded
in outdoor camping, will continue to be relevant to today's
Camping and the Order
Camping is a method of Scouting, but camping is not Scouting's
purpose. Scouting aims to build character, citizenship, and
fitness. When Scouts go camping, this growth just seems to
follow. Patrol and troop camping are models and a testing
ground for life in society. In a small group, each member
is dependent on the others. Each learns to accept responsibility
and to exercise good judgment. Even a stubborn or selfish
person finds himself interacting with others in helpful and
supportive ways. Scouts who camp will sooner or later come
face to face with practical applications of the Scout Oath
and Law. Cheerfulness, trustworthiness, courtesy, helpfulness,
and all the central virtues of Scouting are necessary survival
skills. Thus, we promote camping, and camping becomes more
effective in achieving the aims of Scouting.
The principles of Scouting are central to any kind of successful
camping. The Order of the Arrow arose in a Scout camp, and
it keeps camping promotion as a major service. Arrowmen encourage
Scouts to go camping. In camp, we maintain the best traditions
and the highest spirit.
The Order of the Arrow (OA) was founded by Dr. E. Urner Goodman
and Carroll A. Edson in the summer of 1915 at the Treasure
Island Camp of the Philadelphia Council, Boy Scouts of America.
It grew out of a desire to emphasize that the good Scout camper
is not only proficient in the skills of Scoutcraft, but also
practiced the principles of the Scout Oath and Law. It was
intended to make these Scout principles more effective in
the lives of Scout campers. It focuses particular attention
on making cheerful service and brotherhood working realities
to its members.
As a means of establishing all this without preachment and
within the understanding of Scouts who go camping with their
troops, it was announced to them at the outset that at the
end of their camping experience, each troop might choose those
who best exemplified these traits to become members of the
Order of the Arrow.
Other Order of the Arrow lodges were soon organized in nearby
councils, and in 1921 representatives of those lodges met
together in Philadelphia for the first national meeting. It
became an official program experiment of the Boy Scouts of
America in 1922. In 1934, the Boy Scouts of America officially
approved the Order of the Arrow. In 1948, the OA, recognized
as the BSA's national brotherhood of honor campers, became
an official part of the national camping program of the Boy
Scouts of America. Since then, it has become a recognized
part of the Boy Scout program and is used in all but a few
councils throughout America.
The OA has more than 176,000 members located in lodges affiliated
with approximately 327 BSA local councils.
Scouts and Scouters under the age of 21 are elected to the
Order by their fellow unit members, following approval by
the Scoutmaster or Varsity team Coach. To become a member,
a youth must be a registered member of a Boy Scout troop or
Varsity Scout team and hold First Class rank. The youth must
have experienced fifteen days and nights of Boy Scout camping
during the two-year period prior to the election. The fifteen
days and nights must include one, but no more than one, long-term
camp consisting of six consecutive days and five nights of
resident camping, approved and under the auspices and standards
of the Boy Scouts of America. The balance of the camping must
be overnight, weekend, or other short-term camps.
Adults 21 and older are selected based on their ability to
perform the necessary functions to help the Order fulfill
its purpose, and not for recognition. Selected adult Scouters
must be an asset to the Order because of demonstrated abilities,
and provide a positive role model for the youth members of
The induction ceremony, called the Ordeal, is the first step
toward full membership. During the experience, candidates
undergo a number of 'tests'. The entire experience is designed
to teach significant values. The induction is not a hazing
or an initiation ceremony. The Order is not a secret Scout
organization, and its ceremonies are open to any parent, adult
leader, or religious leader. Since there is an element of
mystery in the ceremonies, for the sake of their effect on
candidates, Order of the Arrow ceremonies are not conducted
at public gatherings.
After 10 months of service and fulfilling certain requirements,
a member may take part in the Brotherhood ceremony, which
places further emphasis on the ideals of Scouting and the
Order. Completion of this ceremony signifies full membership
in the OA.
After two years of service as a Brotherhood member, and with
the approval of the national Order of the Arrow Committee,
a Scout may be recognized with the Vigil Honor for outstanding
service to Scouting, his lodge, and the community. This honor
is bestowed by special selection and is limited to one person
for every 50 members registered with the lodge each year.
Each local Boy Scout council is encouraged to have an Order
of the Arrow lodge. Each lodge is granted a charter from the
National Council, BSA, upon annual application. The OA lodge
helps the local council provide a quality Scouting program
through recognition of Scouting spirit and performance, development
of youth leadership and service, promotion of Scout camping
and outdoor programs, and enhancement of membership tenure.
An Order of the Arrow section consists of lodges within a
geographic area of the region. Once every year, representatives
of lodges in the section come together for a conclave to share
in fellowship, skills, and training. A section is lead by
three youth officers, the Section Chief, Section Vice-Chief,
and Section Secretary, who are advised by an adult Section
Adviser and professional Section Staff Adviser. All of the
elected section chiefs are invited form the conference committee
for a national Order of the Arrow event, which is held under
the guidance of the national Order of the Arrow Committee.
The region chief is the youth leader of the region elected
by the section chiefs in his region. This election is held
in conjunction with called meetings of the section chiefs
to elect the national chief and vice-chief, as well as to
plan a national Order of the Arrow event. The region Order
of the Arrow chairman is an adult appointed by the region
director. The professional adviser for the region is a staff
member assigned to the position by the region director.
The national chief and vice-chief are Arrowmen elected by
the section chiefs during the annual national planning meeting.
They serve as members of the national Order of the Arrow Committee,
providing the opinion of youth on national OA policy. They
also serve as the presiding officers for the national OA event.
Their term of office is specified by the national committee,
and is currently one year. They are advised in their responsibilities
by the national committee chairman and national director of
the Order of the Arrow.
The national OA committee chairman is appointed by the chairman
of the national Boy Scout Committee. The professional adviser
is the national director of the Order of the Arrow, a member
of the national Boy Scout Division staff.