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OA Election Frustrations

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  • #16
    goes more to the perception that OA is an optional part of Scouting

    Well, that's not a perception, that's reality.

    I know that among many Scouters, and in many Scouting circles, the OA has earned itself a rather negative reputation. I don't want to get into whether or not that reputation is justified, but it certainly does "turn off" many troops to inviting OA representatives to speak to their youth members.

    I personally take a rather dim view towards the OA, due to a number of encounters with them. However, I do get frustrated when Scoutmasters deliberately deny their Scouts an opportunity to be involved in optional parts of Scouting - be it the OA, NYLT, Philmont or High Adventure contingents, Jambo, etc. The Scouts should have the option of "taking or leaving" these programs - they shouldn't have the adult leadership making this decision for them.

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    • #17
      (letter to SM and CC, email to SM and CC, phone call to SM and CC)

      And the same to the SPLs and the OA Troop Representative ...

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      • #18

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        • #19
          Long story short...

          My perception from your post is the Chapter and Lodge are unable to sell the added value of the Order to the Troops. That's a red flag that the Chapter will have big problems in 2-3 years, if not now. Stop the email. Get the list of registered Scoutmasters from your DE. Go and have friendly cups of coffee with each of them. Take a DVD player. Hopefully your Lodge has a 5 minute show of the adventurous/fun things they do throughout the year. Use it.

          You have to sell that the Lodge adds value to the Scout and to his unit, or you won't get your teams in for an election. PERIOD.

          PS: I hope you have a youth Arrowman who has a passion for marketing; he can do a lot of the sales job under your supervision. Even so, depending on the Scoutmasters you have, he may not get entry to see a particular SM unless you are supplying some adult-adult armtwisting.

          Comment


          • #20
            "...Of the units who "do" OA, are the OA Troop Representatives involved in the process? I never understood the attitude that "we don't do OA". That's like saying "we don't do Advancement" or "we don't do merit badges". It's part of the program, and to me, should not be optional if there are scouts willing to be members..."
            The OA is not a required program of the Boy Scouts and not required for Advancement.  Advancement is a method of the Boy Scout program, the OA is not. 
            I'm a Brotherhood member of the OA but I do know that some people do not understand the OA's purpose and question the need for the program as part of the Troop program.

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            • #21
              And the same to the SPLs and the OA Troop Representative
              Shortridge, how does your elections committee get ahold of those names and addresses, phone numbers and emails? Does your Council track them somehow?

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              • #22
                If there's an OA Troop Representative, the chapter and lodge ought to have their contact information, yes. If the chapter and lodge don't know who the reps are, then the reps clearly aren't doing their jobs.

                My point was really more of a rhetorical one, emphasizing that these issues should be handled and scheduled by the youth leadership of the troop and the chapter/lodge, not necessarily by SMs. It's the PLC that should make the decision to hold elections, as with all other parts of the program.

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                • #23
                  Last year my OA rep called to schedule an election and was told only the SM could do so.

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                  • #24
                    I'm betting SR 540 wouldn't be so picky.

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                    • #25
                      SR,

                      Been there, felt that. 4th quarter elections to make room for AOL ceremonies in the first quarter? I like the concept. Our Chapter has 38 unit elections, & 60 Packs to worry about. But 4th quarter would never work for us. We have to many SM that want their elections as late in May as possible so more of their Scouts can achieve First Class.

                      To try and make room for AOl's, this year we are going to ask the SM to please sign up on an early April Monday and an Early May Monday, same for Tuesday units, one Wed., one Thur, and one Sunday. On the Monday & Tuesday dates, we'll need 8 teams. On the other nights, we'll need. 3-4 teams. This would allow us to pull the elections off in 7 nights, and let us concentrate on AOLs.

                      We have 1 unit that has refused to let us run an election for the last 6 years. And the SM use to be OA. He has never give a legitimate reason why he doesn't want elections.

                      We have another that did the same, but let us run an election three years ago. They then went to an out of council camp, never had the youths Call-Out, or sent to Ordeal.

                      Someone mention using Troop OA Rep's. We have more of a problem getting the SM to assign a Troop Rep then we do getting an election set up. I wish we had 20 active Rep's to help with elections.

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                      • #26
                        SR,

                        Been there, felt that. 4th quarter elections to make room for AOL ceremonies in the first quarter? I like the concept. Our Chapter has 38 unit elections, & 60 Packs to worry about. But 4th quarter would never work for us. We have to many SM that want their elections as late in May as possible so more of their Scouts can achieve First Class.

                        To try and make room for AOl's, this year we are going to ask the SM to please sign up on an early April Monday and an Early May Monday, same for Tuesday units, one Wed., one Thur, and one Sunday. On the Monday & Tuesday dates, we'll need 8 teams. On the other nights, we'll need. 3-4 teams. This would allow us to pull the elections off in 7 nights, and let us concentrate on AOLs.

                        We have 1 unit that has refused to let us run an election for the last 6 years. And the SM use to be OA. He has never give a legitimate reason why he doesn't want elections.

                        We have another that did the same, but let us run an election three years ago. They then went to an out of council camp, never had the youths Call-Out, or sent to Ordeal.

                        Someone mention using Troop OA Rep's. We have more of a problem getting the SM to assign a Troop Rep then we do getting an election set up. I wish we had 20 active Rep's to help with elections.

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          To All,

                          For years, I've heard you folks talk about specific time frames for OA Elections. Our Lodge has had Ordeals (now called Service Weekends) in May/June, September, and March. Elections are held all year round. A Scout has a year to take his Ordeal from the date of his election. All of the Lodge's Chapter Election Teams promote elections all year long, and work with each Scoutmaster in scheduling the elections at their Troop's convenience. One election per calendar year is the rule.
                          Years of being involved at our Lodge, shows a fairly big turnout at the fall Service Weekend (to break down summer camp and put things away). We have a pretty big turnout for the winter Service Weekend (to maintain camp buildings and trails and/or upgrades). I consider our spring Service Weekend somewhat unique. It's a bit weak on Ordeal candidates, but we push for and get a good turnout of OA Scouts and Scouters because of the need to get the camp ready for upcoming summer camp (set up tents/platforms, clean all buildings, and everything else in preparation for camp inspection).

                          It works for us.

                          sst3rd

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                          • #28
                            Do you offer elections at summer camp? Surely you have enough arrowmen among camp staff to facilitate this.

                            As a youth you got my attention by authentic dancing during tap-outs.

                            But as to getting my attention as an adult, O/A did the following:
                            - The lodge/chapter chief visited roundtables asking what went well and what could be done differently.
                            - Chapter meetings concurrent with roundtable increased visibility and were convenient if a youth from my troop wanted to attend.
                            - My youth love some of the weekends hosted by O/A.
                            - The lodge chief wrote a reflection in the council newsletter.
                            - Arrowmen helped serve meals for some venturing weekends.
                            - O/A hand-me-downs on venturers new to backpacking.

                            That cheerful service goes a long way ...

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              ASM915, it sounds like your lodge and council takes a whole different approach than ours. Typically, Webelos crossover in February at their Blue and Gold banquets. There is no way they would be 1st Class by May. Holding elections late in May doesn't work for us either as our first Ordeal is mid-May. Also, we don't schedule AOL dates they have to meet, we come to individual Packs at their request. The lodge has their schedule and the chapters work within that time frame. It occasionally gets tweaked here and there, but it comes from years of experience of what works in our council. Like you, most troops ignore the OA Troop Rep position regardless of how much information we have provided.

                              sst3rd, our lodge works on a calendar year frame, so doing elections all year long wouldn't work very well. With the old Quality Lodge program which is now the Journey to Excellence program (much more difficult BTW), I really don't know how you would record numbers with a rotating calendar.

                              qwazse, we don't do elections or call outs at summer camp. Those jobs fall to the chapters in our lodge. There are several issues with doing that. Our summer camp is at least a two hour trip one way for almost all scouts in our council. To provide election and ceremony teams for the 6 weeks of camp, working adults would have to take time off work to deliver them to camp and then bring them back late at night. Another issue is troops that go out of council for summer camp. Yet another issue is one expressed to me by a current SM who never got to be in OA as a youth because elections WERE held at summer camp. He came from a rural farm community troop and they never had enough boys at summer camp to qualify for holding an election. Having chapters bring elections to the troop's doorstep on their desired date works much better for us. We hold callout at a district event.

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Here is another frustration. Our chapter has a history with one of the troops in our district. For some reason, they believe they were blackballed by the former adviser and were being passed over for elections. I know this to not be true because during that time, my own son was the one who contacted the SM's (yes, this troop has co-SM's....whatever that is) about holding an election and could never get a committment out of them. Then I became adviser and I had their CC call me last year with lots of questions about OA (he claims to be a former Lodge Adviser) and tells me about how they have been blackballed. I explain to him that they have never been blackballed and their troop has been asked each year to hold an election. Last year, they finally held one. Victory. Their co-SM's resigend and our District Camping Chair becomes SM. We used our one District nomination to nominate him since his troop didn't and because it would be advantageous for the District Camping Chair to be a member of the OA and understand our connection to camping and camp service. He didn't complete his Ordeal. Fast forward to this past Saturday and my Associate Adviser for elections is attending our district Cub Winter Day with his younger son. He is talking to all the Boy Scouts who volunteered to help and talks to a boy from this troop. They talk about his rank and his favorite palces to camp and other things like that. Then my AA asks if the boy is a member of the OA. No sir, but I'd like to be.......but our leaders say that they can't get the OA to come do elections. WHAT? Now this troop is more of one of our exceptions than our rule, but this is the kind of stuff we are up against. We got a single sentence email reply from this troop's SM that simply said they would not be holding an election this year. He WILL be getting a friendly phone call to see if we can figure out what the heck is going on.

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