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  • #31
    Sure they could, but there's already the organizational structure and voluntary labor force in place to do all those things. Why reinvent the wheel?

    The OA also provides an easy way for scouts to make friends with other scouts outside their units. The OA may seem insular, but it's external to units. A fully functioning OA lodge not only provides a "service club", but a "music club", "drama club" and leadership opportunities that usually cannot be equaled in scope on a unit level, among other functions.

    And then there are the lodges, as desertrat describes, that are all about the patch.

    I don't know which type of lodge is more typical, but I don't think I would agree with quashing the 96 year old organization when there are many lodges out there doing it right.


    • #32
      I admit I have seen some changes in the OA since I first took the Obligation, some I like, soe I don't. I think part of the decline is that we DID lower standards in the early to mid 1990s when we changed the voting procedure.

      I also think that yes some lodges became too focuses on self congratulating and money raising. Now I don't mind some, stress SOME self congratualing, in the form of signs stating "Built by XYZ Lodge, # 123, Order of the Arrow," the ceremonies, etc. I've seen what happens when an organization busts butt doign things, and doesn't let out acknowlesdgements. My chapter ran into that problem. In the past 10 years, my chapter raised over $10K for camp improvements, camperships, etc, but no one outside the chapter knew about it. We did have folks who did not know what we do and how we do it because we were "invisible."

      As for what the OA does and what woudl happen if the OA dissolved? I cannot say what would happen in your council as each lodge is different,a nd focuses on different areas. Are there rooms for improvement in every lodge, you bet, but here are some of the things that would suffer in my council.

      1) More money would need to be invested in maintaining the council camps, building buildings at camps, etc. Without my lodge there are structures at the camps that probably would not be built or maintained. One council camp would problably fall apart if not for the OA as some on the council level would like to sell it, and the camp is in the usable shape it is in today only b/c of the OA keeping it up when it was neglected by council.

      2)The amount of money raised for campership would dwindle. We raise more money for camperships than anything else.

      3) Provide staff for Summer camp. Most, not all, but most of the summer camp staff are Arrowmen who love camping.

      In my old council, we could have done a better job on helping to expand the camp's faciltiies. But we excelled in camp promotions and getting people to attend summer camp, as well as providing staff members to various district and council events. A huge number of Arrowmen, I'd say almost the entire lodge, were invovled in some way shape or form in providing service for our 12K+ encampments, whether they were working directly at OA run events, or at district run events and exhibits.


      • #33
        Interesting turn. It seems that some of us are questioning the Order's relevance. That's a fair question. As an Eagle Scout, I have often questioned the relevance of NESA. To my mind, this has been part of the marketing of the "Trail to Eagle" that does not seem to benefit or strengthen Scouting as a whole.

        The difference with the Order, I think, is that it has the potential to have a real, positive effect in every Scout council, and it does so in many. In many councils one can point to camp improvements and Scouting events where the Order has taken the lead and say, "This is what the Order does!"

        When I propose opening up the Order to Venturing, I don't do with an eye toward letting the girls in, although that would be a side effect for better or worse. I look at it as a strengthening of the youth leadership at the district/council level.

        Right now we have the Order and Venturing cabinets and this latent Corps of Discovery that is being promoted right now (with seemingly limited results). Like our training program, we have fragmented and compartmentalized these programs so that it is very easy to see them become like NESA: ineffectual ideas that appear in some book or website that "don't work here."

        Is that really where we're at as an organization?(This message has been edited by sherminator505)


        • #34
          Nope not any more

          It is a popularity contest....had a neighboring Scout Master APPOINT his first year Grandson to the OA. he was a tenderfoot. Grandpa is going it get his eagle.

          What I have seen of the OA 90% are sash and dash.


          • #35
            Nolesrule, though I question OA's relevancy, I am not pulling for its demise.

            But its sure heading that way, all on its own.

            As you and others pointed out, there are OA projects that are superb, and right in line with OA ideals. But do we really need all the overhead of OA, just to have traditional work crews? Do work crews need elections, ceremonies, sashes, patches, officers, advisors, and such?

            A good lodge can be a can indeed be a music club, etc. But how much of this is value added to scouting in general? How much time and energy is expended on insular OA activity that could be utilized at the troop, pack, crew or ship?

            OA, as originally envisioned, can be a great way to recognize stellar outdoor scouts, keep them engaged and instill deeper commitments to cheerful service.

            We've strayed from that quite a bit over time.


            • #36
              desertrat wrote:

              A good lodge can be a can indeed be a music club, etc. But how much of this is value added to scouting in general? How much time and energy is expended on insular OA activity that could be utilized at the troop, pack, crew or ship?

              It all comes back to program. If a troop's Scouts are abandoning your troop in favor of the OA lodge or chapter, don't blame the OA. Take a good hard look at what the OA is offering that your troop isn't. There's nothing preventing a troop from doing the exact same things, minus the symbolism and ceremonial details, that a lodge does.

              But do we really need all the overhead of OA, just to have traditional work crews? Do work crews need elections, ceremonies, sashes, patches, officers, advisors, and such?

              Let's put it another way: Do camping clubs need uniforms, rank patches, shoulder loops, merit badges, adult leaders and meeting places? As in standard non-OA Boy Scouting, the outward accoutrements are part and parcel of the unifying spirit, not excess garbage.

              Try to recruit 100 boys from your council for a work crew with the pitch that they'll be setting up tents for summer camp. You'll be lucky to get 5, if that. But hold an OA weekend, offer fellowship and camaraderie and drama and the ability for youths to tell the adults what to do, and you've got more than enough people to help out.


              • #37
                Shortridge, good points all.

                Regarding how tough it will be to recruit scouts at large for work crews: that is quite true, and that's another rub: service/duty to others is often lacking at the troop level as well.


                • #38
                  And that's a key leadership lesson that a lot of Eagles learn (or don't) during their project process. Unless you have the charisma of a Reagan or a Clinton, you can't just stand up in front of a group and say "I need 10 volunteers to build a shed for the Little League. Come to the park on Saturday. And bring $20 each to donate to the equipment fund." You have to motivate and inspire.

                  To some, the OA might look kind of goofy, with those white sashes and red arrows and strange totems on their pocket flaps. But it certainly motivates and inspires. Anyone who's been part of a service crew can vouch for that.


                  • #39
                    No doubt those things motivate and inspire.

                    But how many lodges have hard working crews as you've described? I don't think it's that common.

                    I realize I'm treading on sacred ground.

                    I'm getting ready to join my fourth lodge as an adult (military moves). The previous three were inert--conclave now and again, good food, sleep indoors, sell patches, help open and close summer camp. At best.


                    • #40
                      A Scouter in my district has been working hard the past three years or so to revive the district OA chapter. He's had moderate success and put a lot of work into it.

                      I think it's a real contribution to Scouting around here. The OA stands ready to help with crossovers, recruiting and other activities, and it's presence as an honor society helps inspire Scouts to higher levels of service.

                      It also gets Scouts out of their troops and experiencing the fellowship of a broader group of Scouts and Scouters.

                      There is A LOT of competition for the time of Scouts and Scouters. That's probably the biggest barrier to more active OA programs would be my guess.


                      • #41
                        For my first few years I tried to sell OA in my troop, no one has been an OA memeber from our troop since about 2004 and before that, no one has any memory of anyone else being involved. The scouts asked what OA is about, the initial answer is the promotional line of it being Scoutings Honor camper society. The kids are smart enough to see that as a generic marketing label and asked what exactly does that mean ? Our response was that they did special lodge campouts, service projects and the ceremony team. Our scouts responded that we camped at least once a month on events they love and attendance is good. We do a good amount of community projects, support and several eagle projects a year so nothing new there. All the boys wouldn't be cauught dead dressed up in Indian Garb and doing the ceremonies they thought was cool as Bear cubs so that was a negative sell rather than positive. So what else do they offer Mr Scoutmaster.....oh they have patches, pocket flaps and those arrow sashes. They already have enough opportunites to get patches and have more pride in their merit badge sashes so that was a no sell. When I brought up that it met back in the city before Roundtable on a weeknight (we are the farthest West district in Council, about an hour from the city where parents just drove up from after their workday) that was a negative. Anotehr independent schedule of meetings, conclaves, projects etc that families had to try and fit into the schedule was another issue.

                        We stopped even mentioning OA 2 or 3 years ago. The boys saw no value of it over our program, familes saw it as another calendar demand source and another meeting that was inconvenient to attend. District made an extra push this year on OA with the same old "It's scoutings Honor Society" which still has zero impact to the boys. I'm not slamming OA at all, I just want to point out that the claim of being the Honor society doesn't sell to many and when questioned for the details it offers nothing over what our troop already does but it does offer additional complexity to people's lives. I stopped trying to sell OA as I saw no value in trying to sell it.


                        • #42


                          • #43
                            One of the big problems with the OA is the "sash and dash" (basements quote) mentality of many of its members after the ordeal it is sayonara never to be seen again.
                            My question is why, is the Indian emphasis too silly for most boys? are the camp work parties too much hard work or just plain dull for the members? I personally have not heard of any lodge being overwhelmed with too many members or not enough projects and events to work on, instead what I hear is that many lodges are struggling just to stay afloat. Is it no longer considered an honor to be an OA member among scouts?


                            • #44
                              "Is it no longer considered an honor to be an OA member among scouts?"

                              Possibly for some, and I think the new slogan has a lot to do with it, as it transfers the "honor" from the camper to the group, and has more prospective candidates saying "So what?!"(This message has been edited by sherminator505)


                              • #45
                                I know this. As a youth member, election to candidacy was limited. The 1965 OAHB (which I was elected under) had the ratio.

                                These days, if the SM certifies you, and if the Troop elects you, you're a Candidate.

                                Oh ... by the way ...
                                I remember my Tap-Out far more than I remember my pre-Ordeal! Why? Some screaming older Scout scooped me up from behind, runs me down to Allowat Sakima, and KA-WHUMPF!!! goes the hand on my shoulder; yeah, I remember that, 41+years on.