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- Jan 2002
Several good points have been brought up. However, the one that I see most often is that the OA is little more than a clique. I've seen too many scouts promoted to Vigil just because they were buddies with the Lodge Chief and his inner circle. Nothing to do with merit what so ever....As I see it, the OA is doing it's self in
I'm not sure how other Lodge's do it, but here is the process we use for Vigil selection. There is a Vigil nomination form and it is my understanding that anyone can submit a nomination. Considering that we have SM's whose troops "don't do OA", most submitions come from within the Lodge. Nominations go to one individual. A date is set on the calendar where the Chapter Adviser and two of his active Chapter members (usually the Chapter Chief and one other boy) come to a Vigil Selection Committee meeting. Only the 2 youth from each chapter may vote. The Adviser does not sit at the table with them, but sits behind them so they can turn to him for advice if needed. If the Adviser wishes to speak, he must be recognized by the chair of the committee. Each nomination letter is read and discussed (on the merits) and a vote is taken of whether that name goes on the final ballot or not. After that process, a ballot is created and the youth who are attending vote for those names onthe ballot that they feel are worthy. They are thanked for their service and the ballots are counted and the person who nominated the candidate is informed so he can make sure the person is at the callout and the Vigil night. Of t he 2 youth per chapter who come to the eslection process, only those who are either Vigil or are not yet elligible may attend. A person elligible can not sit on the committee as their name may come up.
Typically, those selected are people who have given outstanding service to scouting in general and OA in particular. The year I was elligible, I had to have an Associate Adviser sit in for me. To my surprise, a kid from our district was selected for Vigil. I was kind of shocked, because as Chapter Adviser, I have certain standards I use for nominating a youth. Is he active in ceremony teams, election teams, chapter meetings and possibly serving in a chapter leadership position. Plus I have an expectation that he is active at this level for at least 2 years. This kid who was selected for Vigil had never been active in the chapter. I think he attended the Fall Fellowship once or twice with his dad who is an SM and an OA member. I have nothing against the boy, he just had not provided outstanding service in the chapter or lodge. I wish I could have been there during the committee meeting to see the nomination letter and know what wowed the boys enough to elect him.
But basically, our process usually works and works well to select those people who are actually deserving. It isn't a popularity contest or a good old boys club. In fact, the Lodge Adviser lets the Vigil members know that because they were selected, they should feel an obligation to continue stepping up even more as an example.
Regarding: Vigil Honor.
The OA has stated that Vigil is bestowed on an Arrowman that has demonstrated exceptional service to the Lodge, the OA, The Scouting Community, or his Scout Camp.
Therefore, it is entirely possible that an Arrowman that has never been to a chapter meeting could be eligible for Vigil Honor.
This is the way it SHOULD be. The focus of Service in the OA has always been service to the UNIT, not to the lodge. The scout should be taking something back to his unit. If this is what we were contributing to scouting, then people would still see benefit in the OA.
Yep folks who are not active in the chapter and lodge do get Vigil, but sometimes it's for other service to Scouting. A good friend of mine, who got Vigil with me, was not active for 2 years with his chapter b/c of college/military service. He contributed by working summer camp staff during the summers when he was available.
Gentlemen, I understand and agree that a person can receive the Vigil Honor without being active in OA. That being said, the boys voting on Vigil tend to vote for those they have seen around providing service. Regardless of how great of a nomination letter someone has written, if the boys haven't a clue who the kid is, they tend not to vote for them. That is the reason that many adult nominees don't get elected. They may serve their unit, the district and the council in 10 different ways, but if the boys have never seen them at an OA event, they tend not to vote for them. While I certainly take camp staff service into account (I urge all my Arrowmen to serve on staff) when nominating a boy, I also keep in mind that it is a paid postion and not service for service's sake. Only serving on camp staff usually doesn't make the cut in our selection committee.
Gotcha and understand 110% I got a few ideas to solve the problem.
1) Have photos attached to the applications.
2) If the individual has a nickname, use it.
3) If you can't use photos, ask questions, or if a youth write the questions for him to ask, about the individual.
We had an outstanding adult, just turned 21, who was one of the folks "behind the scenes" busting his tail to make sure everything went off without a hitch. The guy had about 5 folks nominate him, but the youth couldn't place him as he has served behinds the scenes. Luckily he was an adult, and when I asked a few pointed questions (isn't he the one who does XYZ, ABC, JKL, and IOU?)for clarification on who he is and what he does, you could see the lightbulbs going off. And that's when I suggested to the Vigil chairman to have photos of those nominated at the committee meeting.
Similar reaction to another adult. He is so well known by his nickname, that when his real name was used for the nomination, no one, youth and adults alike, knew who he was. It was only at the end of the nominatin letter, when his nickname was used did folks have the lightbulb go off.
- Jul 2009
Getting back to the original topic, I'm getting the sense that we're not talking so much about "changing the Order" as "changing the Order back." If so, I don't disagree.
I don't think we are thinking of changing everything BACK. Many things that have been changed need to be reverted. For example, restricting membership does increase the value of membership. However, I was Called out and not Tapped out, but I see no benefit in changing this ceremony. Most of the changes need to be made to what the Order does and how it runs. These things are much more important than the specifics of the ceremonies.
The focus of the Order must be outside itself. It must offer something to the Arrowman and it must offer something to the Scouting community. Right now, the Order offers little else other than Ceremonies (some lodges have gotten rid of Dance altogether). Yes there are a couple of service opportunities per year, but most of these revolve around Ordeals and are not visible to the Scouting Community.
The OA does a lot to get our Scout Camp ready for the season, but if you ask most non-OA scouters who does all of this work, they will usually answer "staff" or "the ranger."
Lodges should get much more guidance than they do. I think that a Journey to Excellence award for Lodges would be in order. Deciding what requirements to have would be the challenge, but there is currently no system to gauge the success of a Lodge.
I've designed the programs for several Cub Packs and Scout troops over the decades. Designing an appealing program is critical to attracting the interest of youths and parents.
I'm not an Xpert on OA, but I'd suppose the same thing would be true of OA. OA appears to be cramped by more rules from national on what you can do for program.
Still, I would suppose a good deal of the problem is that a lot of chapters keep doing the same old thing rather than coming up with new ideas for program.
When I was tapped out at our district Camporee, those tapped out were given a clam shell on a thong as a symbol of being selected. Perhaps you can't do tapouts any longer, but surely people could think of a non-physical way of recognizing those who have been selected.
Doing a cracker barrel at camporee to welcome those selected and orient them to the Ordeal would seem to be a natural.
Perhaps have the new selectees set up an obstacle course or other activity for the camporee participants. Something that would make OA more visible.
Make it possible for units that haven't had an election to do that at camporee.
Have an OA warming tent at the district Klondike derby.
I'm just throwing out ideas here. It seems to me that there ought to be ways for OA to wave the flag, and doing so at district activities would be a natural.
In the thread on OA Flaps, Beaver wrote: "Being a Chapter Adviser, there is nothing I'd like better than have every boy who gets elected do their Ordeal and that every boy who does his Ordeal become active. That is my pipe dream. The reality is that they were elected by the peers to be honored for their example in their troop."
I never really thought of it this way, but Scouts are elected by their troops to honor their leadership, service and commitment to the troop, not for their interest or desire to join the OA.
Okay, so the guys in my troop think I'm the bees knees, what about that suggests that I need to get involved in another organization and commit to additional time and effort to a different area of Scouting. If they elect me to a Venture crew do I have to go?
From that perspective, it really shouldn't be a surrise that a good number of inductees join but don't really get involved.
- Sep 2008
I usually skim over OA threads since I'm a non-member who, as a youth, was in a troop where OA wasn't promoted. But this thread's thoughtful string of ideas primed my engine with some questions and observations. Hope they're helpful!
1) I'm all for service to camps, council, units, etc., but from my non-member perspective, what is it about OA that would enable me to do more for these entities than I'm already able to do as a non-member? I think this is the general question I have as an adult seeking answers from m3sd3's and SeattlePioneer's ideas.
2) I understand that OA has tried to move toward the "Honor Society" concept and away from the "Honor Campers" concept. Some posters here would like to move back. As an outsider, I think moving back would be a good idea, especially if OA encourages more outdoor activity of its members, either within lodge activities or at the broader unit level.
3) Someone mentioned the need for a JTE for Lodges. I'd like to suggest one measure of the "honorability" of the camping by Lodge members would be how far youth members progress in the National Outdoor Activity Award program.
Happy New Year!
@mds3d: "Lodges should get much more guidance than they do. I think that a Journey to Excellence award for Lodges would be in order. Deciding what requirements to have would be the challenge, but there is currently no system to gauge the success of a Lodge."
Lodge JTE replaces Quality Lodge.
@Eagle92: "1) Have photos attached to the applications."
We already do that because we realize that boys will recognize a face better than a name.
@SeattlePioneer: "If OA projects include things like setting up tents at the Scout Camp that makes summer camp possible, that's a good answer, except that unit Scouts and leaders probably don't see or understand the connection."
I understand what you are saying about doing things to be more visible and I don't disagree, but many unit Scouters don't see or understand the connection simply because they already have a "we don't do OA" mindset and they won't care if you run something at aa Camporee or not. Witness the number here who have rejected every argument made in favor of OA. They act like a sports fan who has already made up their mind they are NOY going to the opera no matter how much their wife wants them to. The odd thing is, OA is Scouting, so what's not to like?
And witness the numbers here who either have or want to give the OA a chance but have decided the program just doesn't work for them due either to structural problems in the program or operational issues with their lodges. Me included. I've posted a couple times (not necessarily this thread) about the problem I have dealing with the commitment OA requires of unit leaders. That's a real concern, but no one wants to talk about that.
Instead, you want to fixate on folks have already make up their mind to reject the program. You have a handful of ready, willing and able buyers here who are looking for an excuse to buy in. But you don't want to hear their input or concerns about your product, just defend the status quo.
1)Try to attend 1 work event and 1 fun event each year. I don't care if the work events are at the main camp 1.5 hours away, when the chapter does something at the local camp .5 hours away, or one of our community service projects, just help keep our camps running.
As for the fun events, i don't care if it's a party, fellowship, conclave or NOAC, just have some fun.
2) When you show up at the district camporee, bring ya sash and when all Arrowmen are asked to come forward for the Call Out, come out. OH and if we ask ya to get a candidate form your troop and present him, please do.
3)Attend the Candidate Information Session and Chapter Social in February.
4) let us know what's going on with ya.
Can some scouters go all out for OA, absolutely as I was one of them. But I also didn't have any unit responsibilities. Now that I am a DL, the unit is my #1 priority.
If the council wouldn't schedule OA events simultaneously with CS events, I'd be at more OA events, and I know of a Chapter that wold be willing to help staff some CS events.