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  • Parents attending OA Ceremonies

    Does anyone have any thoughts or opinions on parents attending their son's Ordeal ceremony?

    We recently had an UGLY experience in which a non-member parent (the district commissioner none-the-less) was turned away from his sons Ordeal ceremony.

    As a parent and long time brother (Vigil) I have very strong opinions. I have the 1972 member opinion and then again the 2009 parent opinion, that really conflict. I need to come up with a way to marry the two, that protects the traditions I love and embrace so much and at the same time, respects a parents right to know what their sons are getting involved in.

  • #2
    Me personally i don't want non-members, except candidates, at ceremonies. I try to allay their fears and explain the entire process. adn discourage them frm attending. But it is their right, so let it go to the LA.

    NOW I would especially discourage an active Scouter from participating as he may become a candidate in the future. Knowing about the ceremony in advance DOES take away.

    Now what I REFUSE to allow is non-members photographing or videoing the ceremony. had that happen at the last Ordeal with my lodge. I brought to the ceremonies chairman's attention and eh delt with it.


    • #3
      I think this a non-issue. In the GTSS it clearly states "No secret organizations. The Boy Scouts of America does not recognize any secret organizations as part of its program. All aspects of the Scouting program are open to observation by parents and leaders." end of story. We do not have the right to ban parents from any part of the program, but I do understand where you are comming from. Right or wrong it is the rule.


      • #4

        it's always been in our Lodge procedures to not deny non member adult from attending son's ordeal.We talk to them and explain the desire to maintain a sense of mystery that their presence may lessen.We reassure them that ceremony does not violate guide to safe scouting and that we would prefer that they trust that.Next if we have to we would show them what the ordeal entails if they still insist we allow their presence.
        Luckily we have never had to let them attend.All have been satisfied with our request that they help preserve the sense of mystery.
        With an active scouter we might want to remind them that they may be selected as a candidate in the future and that this would deprive them of experiencing the special quality.Maybe the son will perform the ceremony for his dad.
        I think a lot of the issues that arise come from the attitude with which situation is addressed.


        • #5

          I followed my son in to the order.He would have never forgiven me if I'd of gone to his ordeal as a non member.The OA was and is a very personal thing for us.He went through brotherhood at same time I went through ordeal.He was elangomat for a different clan and made a point of not acknowledging my presence when our clans were near.I was given Vigil honor 2 years after him and he was part of my vigil ceremony.This was very special and would not have been so if I had violated the mystery.


          • #6
            As a Brotherhood member myself I understand the idea of keeping the mystery and fully agree with that, and in that vein completely disagree with any video or audio recording of the ceremonies of the OA.

            That said, ANY parent or Guardian who wishes to attend should be ENCOURAGED to do so with the understanding that they are there to observe.
            They should no more make comments or walk in and interrupt than they would if they attended their child's Orchestra concert and thought something was being done incorrectly.
            They are more than welcome to discuss any questions they have afterward with any adult or youth OA member but should withhold their new knowledge from anyone who hasn't been inducted into the OA. I would also think they don't have any business attending a ceremony more than one above the level their child is currently at i.e. the parent (agreeing not to disclose) may attend the Ordeal ceremony before their child does but not the Brotherhood until their child has completed his Ordeal.
            My humble opinion only.


            • #7
              The problem I had with the family members, besides the videoing of the ceremony, is the fact they also brought younger brother as well. Kinda ruins it for him IMHO.


              • #8
                Opinions notwithstanding, as scouterclaude pointed out, BSA policy is "All aspects of the Scouting program are open to observation by parents and leaders"

                So excluding the parent/District Commissioner was just plain wrong. I would have had a face-to-face with the Supreme Chief of the Fire.


                • #9
                  Background: My oldest son and I went through Ordeal and brotherhood together. My wife and second son went through Ordeal together last year. My eldest is on ceremonies team and is now Vice Chief of Admin.

                  I don't get the concern OA members have when a parent wishes to watch his son go through ordeal. How does their attendance take away from the experience the Scout has just had. In my observations it only adds to the Scouts sense of accomplishment in knowing that his parents are there to share in the moment. Similar to graduating.

                  Myself I found mystery of the unknown helped magnify the experience. But having a parent there to watch the ceremony does nothing to dampen that. If you ask a parent to not spoil the surprise to future candidates, I am sure they won't. And quite honestly it's not the ceremony that was as enlightening as the 24 hours of the ordeal itself that precedes it.


                  • #10
                    this topic keeps coming up every so often.

                    As has been pointed out, parents (and other concerned adults) can NOT be turned away from viewing any OA ceremonies.

                    However, they should NEVER be encouraged to attend.

                    We do NOT want OA ceremonies turned into the equivalent of graduation ceremonies, etc. We don't need mom & dad & little siblings and grandma and auntie there to view Little Jimmy at his Ordeal Ceremony.

                    The reason we allow certain non-members to view the ceremonies is NOT to 'share in the experience with their child' or some such, but to allay they fears about what goes on during OA ceremonies. And this should be the last result in dealing with this issue. The prefered method is that if they have concerns about the ceremony, they be allowed to read the ceremony materials. If that doesn't satisfy them, then they can view, with the understanding they stay outside the ceremony and do not disturb it.


                    • #11
                      Our Ordeal ceremonies tend to be huge, with maybe 100 in the audience so I don't see an issue with a parent standing on the back row to observe. If we're committed to the "no secret organizations" policy, I don't see how you can object on principle.

                      That said, a little diplomacy on the part of the lodge advisors should handle the situation. The parent needs to be educated as to the significance of the ceremony and understand it's purpose. If their objections are of a religious nature maybe reviewing the script will help. Hopefully, once they understand the Ordeal, attending the ceremony won't be necessary. But if they still insist, they should be allowed, but only if they agree to stay in the background and respect the proceedings.

                      We can all imagine a worst-case loudmouth parent with a chip on their shoulder intent on causing a problem or making a point. If they insist on attending the ceremony but can't agree to respect it, they should given the option of taking their son and leaving.

                      In your situation, OSS, what I don't get is that this guy is the district commissioner. He should know better. Sounds like he was just trying to throw his weight around. His district committee chairman and DE, or maybe the Council Commissioner should have a talk with him.


                      • #12
                        One of my lodge's problems is that the area we do our ceremony in is rather small area. It's a natural area and was chosen for, for lack of a better word, intimacy of the location. Memebrs who are in the audience do have a hard enough time finding a spot. If every scout brought their parents, it would be a nightmare.

                        EMB said it best.


                        • #13

                          artjrk ,

                          Your situation is a lot different since you went to your sons ceremonies as a participant.Even though the rule is that there is no secrecy the feeling among members is that the ceremonies are something special reserved for members.There is a level of peer disapproval that could arise if a young man's non member parents insist on being present.
                          Maybe there are some who would like to have their parents there but I know that with my boys the members only part was special for them.
                          When I became member and later my wife the boys were excited that they could share the experience.
                          My oldest was ceremonies adviser when his wife became ordeal and brotherhood and he was very excited to be able to share this with her but he still would not share information about vigil with her since it is not her's to experience yet.My grandson was the only non member in family to go through OA ceremony he was in the womb for his mom's brotherhood ceremony.


                          • #14
                            It doesnt matter what the feelings are, fact is if parents want to be there BSA policy says they can. Individual Lodges or groups cannot decide on their own that the rules dont apply.


                            • #15
                              Ceremonies are open to parents - it's just not well advertised. Most Lodges understand this and word their invites and announcements in such a way as to not admit that non-member parents can attend the ceremonies without saying that non-member parents can't attend the ceremonies.

                              I'd say the reason this became an issue is because the District Commissioner DID know better. He knew that non-member parents may attend the ceremonies and chose, as a parent, to attend the ceremony. For whatever reason he had, he was well within policy on his expectations that he would be allowed in to observe.

                              Unfortunately, we don't get details on how this Scouter was turned away from the ceremony and all that then came about. One possible scenario I can see is the youth acting as the gatekeeper refused him entry and the Scouter making a ruckus right there. If this is the case, the Scouter has some fault for not showing restraint, however the Lodge failed to properly train the ceremonies team and also failed in that there was no escort provided to ease the parents way in (was there no one at this event that knew this District Commissioner and knew he wasn't an OA member who could have walked him through?).

                              The other scenario is he was told by the Lodge leadership before folks started gathering to go to the ceremony that he wouldn't be allowed - in which case, I hope he raised holy heck with a Lodge leadership team that failed to understand the policies.

                              If he raised a ruckus and was disruptive while in line, it would have been best to have the Lodge Adviser take him aside (down the trail), get him calm, then go in after everyone else was there - and expect an apology from him to the youth member that stopped him, after the Lodge Adviser apologized for not foreseeing this issue. If, on the other hand, he was denied entry right from the get go, then I, for one, would hope the District Chairman, Council Commissioner, Chapter Adviser, District Executive and Scout Executive would be behind him on this 100% and make sure the Lodge never fails a parent again.

                              I remember almost being turned away from my brother's Ordeal ceremony because I didn't remember the admonition. It was the same weekend as my Vigil induction, and I was corralled into doing the Brotherhood qualifications when the person who was going to do it failed to show up - unlike my fellow new Vigil inductees, I got no time during the day for a snooze - by the time of the Ordeal ceremony, I could barely remember my name, let alone the admonition. It was very fortunate for two youth members that day (me and the gatekeeper) that my Chapter Adviser was right behind me because after he said he couldn't let me in, I apparently started a low-throat growl that raised some goose pimples on a couple of folks nearby and I know I was gearing up to bring down a rain of fire on this poor young lad. My Chapter Adviser just propelled me forward, told the lad I was one of the Vice Chiefs of the Lodge, and if he had an issues, talk to the Chief.