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OA Election Frustrations

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  • #31
    The Guide to Inductions specifically recommends that elections not be held at summer camp, because not every Scout in the troop can attend.

    That said, I've worked with some units who have a tradition of holding elections at summer camp, and it seems to work well for them. I spent several years as my lodge's OA camp staff representative, running elections whenever troops asked, running an ice-cream social and doing call-out ceremonies at the Friday night campfire.


    • #32
      Hmmmm...ok so I'm strictly an outsider looking in ... but....

      I wonder if some of the resistance to OA from the Troop side is the additional time commitment to be involved in OA.

      Given the Troop schedule (meetings/trips/Eagle Projects/CS project) and the school load, I wonder if there are some Troop leaders crying "Uncle" and consider OA to be a drain on the activity of the Troop.

      Maybe if the OA pursued "giving back" some effort to the Troops that might make a difference.

      2 cents +/- the exchange rate.


      • #33
        Now I'm mostly an outsider as I'm pretty much a once a year OA brotherhood member who likes being an adult laundry guy at the ordeal weekends.

        This might be a side discussion point, but when scouters don't support OA might be because they just don't see that much to it. Our biggest OA events are ordeal weekends. Our chapter is huge with about 200(??) new members for the last few years. But after the ordeal, there's not much for the OA members other than to say they are in the OA or to help administer OA. I bet it's just 10 to 20 members our of the chapter that are active. And that's after 200+ join each year.

        The guts of the program should be three or four times bigger than the joining events. With that said, the national park service events have been a huge improvement. And I look forward to OA service weekends after a few of my sons are grown. Other than that though, most of the OA activities that I see have to do with administering OA.

        My apologies as I like the idea of OA. I just always wonder about the guts of the program.


        • #34
          E61 - I think there's probably a lot of truth to what you say about SMs viewing the OA as one more time drain to an already overbooked youth and adult membership base.

          But I wonder what you mean about the OA "giving back" to the troops? Not disagreeing with you, but just curious about how you would like to see the OA work more with individual units?


          • #35
            Giving back to troops? Perhaps OA could volunteer to teach something when they came to do elections. An election shouldn't take more than about 10 minutes, right? that leaves a whole bunch of time for OA members to teach something and demonstrate how knowledgable/fun/whatever they are.


            • #36
              E61's got a point.

              I do think OA has the potential for a return to the Scouts, but it's just overhead to the troop adults. Our lodge requires the troop to send adults to every event, so from my perspective, it turns into another troop activity we have to staff. We have one ASM who does nothing but OA. I'm sure the rules have changed over the years, but back in the day, our chapter advisor was our leader for OA activities -- I don't recall any of our troop leaders even being in the OA.

              For the kids who are interested in OA, it does provide an additional outlet for them. Then again, so does marching band, football and chess club. I have probably 15 OA members in the troop. Over the years I've rarely had more than one boy at any given time participate actively in the OA. Four guys went to the banquet last month. Two went to fall fellowship. Only one of the 15 is Brotherhood.

              If OA was really offering a program which interested and attracted my older boys and gave them another reason to stick with Scouting, it would be worth our investment. It isn't.


              • #37
                "But after the ordeal, there's not much for the OA members other than to say they are in the OA or to help administer OA."


                Yeah, for most lodges, ordeals can be their biggest events, but its not their own event. Keep in mind Lodges are told NOT to have too many events. But most good lodges will have about 4 weekend events a year.

                You will have ordeal, service events at camp (before and/or after summer camp), work/fellowship events in the fall and spring, and usually a banquet.

                The Lodges are encouraged now to do more service work in the community. There is the One Day of Service in the Fall, many lodges may still be doing 'scoutreach' events aimed at disadvantaged youth. There may be other service work done by chapters.

                There are the annual Sectional Conclave/Conferences, which can be big events. (varies from section to section). And you have the National events. Not just NOAC, but the national events in between (Jamboree service work, the recent ArrowCorp and SummitCorp work. My section had its own version call 4-Core that was fairly successful).


                • #38
                  "But I wonder what you mean about the OA "giving back" to the troops?"

                  Lemme see if I can conjure up a couple of examples....

                  Say a Troop wants to pull of a big Community Service project ... clean up a park or something....something that will take far more bodies than the Troop has...maybe OA could pick up the slack.

                  So, say an Eagle project needs "bigger" hands that the younger Scouts can't pull off ... OA to the rescue? I watched one Eagle project flounder last year because the 12-14 year olds couldn't move railroad ties.

                  Granted this might unfeasible if the OA (Lodge?) is small...


                  • #39
                    emb01 replied to my comment: "But after the ordeal, there's not much for the OA members other than to say they are in the OA or to help administer OA." .... "Really?"

                    Sorry as much as I like and support OA, it just seems that way to me.

                    Administrative - Ordeal weekend ... Huge event just for our chapter with hundreds and hundreds of attendees
                    Administrative - Annual banquet ... Our chapter sends ten or so... I guess ... never attended
                    Administrative - Conclave / conferences (sectional or national) ... Maybe a few go from the whole chapter

                    Activity - camp service weekends ... No one from our unit has ever attended even though we have two to five scouts elected each year.
                    Activity - lock in / overnight ... Might have had one of our scouts attend one once.
                    Activity - One day of service ... New to me. Not familiar with it.
                    Activity - Arrow corps ... None of our scouts. It's like jumping to OA high adventure from doing almost nothing.
                    Activity - Summit corps ... Same comment
                    Activity - Jamboree work ... Same comment

                    Our OA reps often attend a few OA monthly meetings but then fall away from those too.

                    Our troop supports OA in that we pass on information and hold elections. But we don't push OA involvement. OA involvement is up to the scouts and OA.


                    • #40

                      I understand where you are coming from, but it's a little short sighted. OA "can" offer so many opportunities that often can't be met in unit scouting. For the typical boy in a troop, what leadership position can he hold at the district, council, regional and national level? That path exists in OA. Many troops just aren't big enough or have the experienced adults to pull off a troop high adventure trek at Philmont or one of the other high adventure bases. In that case, they have to rely on a council contingent that can be extremely costly. Thru the OA, members can attend all bases for a low fee of $200 by providing half of their time in service. Just like there is NYLT, OA provides NLS and LLDC. Those are just the things I can pull off the top of my head.

                      Think of it kind of like when your kid goes off to college and gets accepted to the honors program. He has far more opportunity to grow and expand his horizons. That is what the OA can offer to the local units. Give them a scout and they can help him become an even better scout for your unit. Yes, activity in the OA is up to the individual scout. That being said, why wouldn't an SM promote and encourage activity in the OA in order to provide a boy greater opportunity and get a better leader in the bargain?


                      • #41
                        I'm not arguing against OA at all. I like OA. I think it's a good idea. I'm just always sad that ... from what I see ... it's promise does not match the reality. But I am mostly on the outside and can only speak to the experience of scouts from our unit. The only significant involvement I see is the scout going through the ordeal. Then, mostly nothing, even for the OA reps.


                        Side note ... we've had many scouts do high adventures (troop and council contingents) and I can't think of a single one in the last ten years that took advantage of OA service opportunities for a high adventure trip. It might be a coordination issue though because of travel plans and adults and such. It's probably a major coordination issue to figure out who can provide half their time in service, adjust treks appropriately and make sure there are sufficient adult leaders. Perhaps, I'll suggest this for the ntier as they are relatively close by. It would reduce cost drastically. Heck, I'd be up for that. Especially, if it saves us $400 or more per person.(This message has been edited by fred8033)


                        • #42
                          Well you see fred, it's hard for a Lodge to provide a decent program when kids won't come. For a Lodge to be run correctly, it is indeed youth led. Adults serve as advisers just like Venturing. In a Crew, if the kids don't make it happen, it won't happen. Same with a Chapter/Lodge. I realize it is a chicken and egg kind of thing. You could say build it and they'll come, but if they are the ones who are supposed to build it, they need to be their first. Just like troops, there are large onnes. small ones, active ones, inactive ones, good leaders, bad leaders. As a Chapter Adviser, I take my job seriously. I know other Advisers in my Lodge who seem to think it is merely an honorary title. I've worked hard over the last two years to make us known to the troops. We have a facebook presence, an up to date website and I've developed a chatper email distribution list. One of my Associate Advisers is communication chair for the district, so we always have something in the district newsletter. I currently have the district committee asking if the Chapter will run next years Camporee. They are asking because they think it will give us more exposure to the troops. I'm not opposed to it, but here is the issue. Someone above mentioned maybe the election teams teaching something at a troops election to basically add value and win favor with the troops. When you have the same 6 to 8 boys doing all of the elections, all of the Webelos Crossover ceremonies, holding chapter leadership positions, ceremony practice, etc. they get spread pretty thin and can easily burn out. Spread that out over 20 to 24 boys and then all sorts of things become possible. Support is a two way street. We are providing services to the troops. We need the troops to encourage thier kids to give us a try.


                          • #43
                            I see well over a hundred new members at the ordeal weekend. They do four ceremonies split between two fire rings. Our troop gets two to five scouts elected and through the ordeal each year. Our troop passes on the information from OA and OA members are also contacted directly by their chapter. I'm just not sure how much more is expected.

                            I should mention our council does have a OA led youth training camp out each spring. It's like a university of scouting for youth, but on a camp out. Great event and great for OA activities.

                            I like the idea of the OA running the camporee. Interesting idea. Not sure of challenges with time of year overlapping ordeal weekend. Interesting though.(This message has been edited by fred8033)


                            • #44
                              What I find interesting is the push for boy-led OA chapters. These new members are supposed to be FC, plenty of camping experience and should be well on their way to being boy-led from the experiences of their Troops. So it begs the question... why aren't they? Somehow it seems to be a bit of cart before the horse here. Instead of the boys learning boy-led at OA and going back to their troops with this new idea, they should be coming into OA the honor program already prepared to lead.

                              Any of the strong Chapters out there see any correlation between the emphasis in their councils that would support this?



                              • #45

                                Push for boy-led in OA? OA has always been boy-led.....if done correctly. Who said they were learning boy-led at OA and taking it back to their troop as a new idea? They are continuing boy-led at OA. In fact, we held elections at our chapter banquet last Friday. Here is part of an email I sent to the five members of the chapter leadership team this morning asking them to schedule a time to do their annual chapter planning.

                                "Thank you for stepping up to serve in a chapter leadership position. I was serious at the banquet when I said, this is your chapter, this is your time. The success of this coming year depends on what you make of it. Your advisers will be standing ready to assist and advise you at any time, but the goals and operation of the chapter are your responsibility. This is no different from a boy run troop. All of you have served in top leadership positions in your troops and are well on your way to Eagle if you havent already attained it. You have the knowledge and you have the experience. Now all you need is a plan."