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  • OA Marketing Opportunities

    I repeatedly hear OA leaders bewailing the lack of interest in their program. But are they doing a good job of marketing their program?

    What ways can OA use to market the value of its program to Scouts and Scouters?

    Offhand, what about using camporees as an opportunity to show off OA? An evening cracker barrel for current and prospective OA members might be such an opportunity.

    How about OA at camporee providing a special ceremony for the camp, or a special activity for Scouts to participate in?

    Would it be possible to have OA elections at Camporee that could be scheduled at the request of units who are in attendance?

    My impression, for what it might be worth, is that OA keeps repeating the same old stuff all the time. If leaders are concerned about attracting interest from more Scout Troops, are there new ways to excite that kind of interest?

  • #2

    Every lodge and chapter is different and what may work in one area may not work in another. I saw that b/c we have done what you said and our numbers have lacked in the past.

    Here are some of the things we did in my neck of the woods in addition to what you suggested.

    1) Got really motivated youth and adults that really pumped up OA spirit. If you don't have motivated and spirited members, how can you be appealing.

    2) Gotta do more than just Work Work Work. One of the biggest challenges I faced as OA CA was that one of our fundraisers and events was the district Webeloree, which coincided with with a fun OA event: conclave. In about 10 years, no one save a chapter chief who turned lodge chief had attended conclave b/c of this event. After 2 years of begging and pleading to change the date which the activities chair refused to do, the person who took over the event said "Yes we'll move the event b/c I want to go to conclave." That was a big morale booster.

    3) You gotta have fun activities. We've had pool parties, tours of military bases, etc.

    4) You got to be visible. This was one of the biggest challenges with adults b/c historically OA members didn't wear OA sashes except at OA events. Add to that that my lodge did not have an Ordeal Member flap, only Brotherhood and Vigil, and you didn't know who OA members were. So the youth decided to include normal district events as OA events, hence more visibility. Some resistance from some adults, but it worked.

    5) if you have a ceremony, drum, or dance team, do it right. We had a drum and really did well for a while, performing at various events through out the district.


    • #3
      I always thought one didnot wear an OA sash unless it was an OA event, the way you know one is a member is because they wear the lodge flap. If your lodge doesnt have a Lodge Flap, would not the best next step be to have one?
      (This message has been edited by OldGreyEagle)


      • #4

        The youth of the lodge as a whole voted to do away with Ordeal flaps, and only have Brotherhood, Vigil, and special event flaps (i.e. Jambo, NOAC, conclave, etc). Rationale I got from them was that it encouraged folks to get Brotherhood. Also all flaps had a 7 hour service requirement.

        This was prior to national mandating that there be no distinctive border lodge flaps, which ticked off the voting members of my lodge (an aside, when the issue of changing the lodge by-laws to reflect the national madate came up to a vote, the youth rejected the national mandate. LA had to change the by-laws by fiat).

        With no distinctive borders now, the lodge still kept the restriction that MEMBERS (caps for emphasis) must do 7 hours of cheerful service to buy a flap. So new members still do not get flaps when inducted. They have to come to another Ordeal, or workday to get a flap. I may not like this policy, but every single time someone brings up the idea of changing it, the youth reject the change. The last time I was observed a vote, the idea of issuing 1 flap at every OA event to each participant as part of the fee was rejected; the youth want to keep the service hours requirement. So in my lodge at least I do not see this happening.

        Also there was some loosening up of when to wear the OA sash in the late 1980s and 1990s. Beleive it or not, you could wear the OA sash with the "professional uniform" of navy blazer, white shirt, etc.


        • #5
          So your youth came up with a way to cancel out the most accepted and universally known symbol of the OA, the Lodge flap, and you want to know how to better market the OA?

          Has anyone explained the backward stance of not having Ordeal Lodge Flaps?

          I think this qualifies as Boy Lead Into the Ground


          • #6
            I would suggest that the ideas you mention, SP, are not so much marketing as they are program. A strong chapter or lodge should be doing all those things, and more. The OA shouldn't be some separate entity, although it should do some things separately. In an ideal situation, the local chapter should be organizing the whole camporee, running skills refresher sessions for the adults at roundtables, delivering camp promotion presentations to units, helping run Cub day camps, doing special service projects at local parks ... if you can think of it, a chapter can do it. There really are no limits.


            • #7

              There are no more Ordeal, Brotherhood, and Vigil distinctive flaps as national got rid of them in 2008 or thereabouts. 1 flap for all members, although there are special event flaps out there. My lodge was not happy with this decision.

              Instead of a flap, new members get the universal ribbon instead. Do I like it, not really, but the youth have decided. And trust me the youth will not decide otherwise at this time. EDITED: the national policy change ticked off the members that much.

              The debate over issuing an Ordeal Flap, when national allowed them, came very close to being changed in my lodge as a small group of youth Arrowman had been pushing for an Ordeal Flap for new members for several years, and it was getting closer and closer to coming about.

              But when national decided to do away with individual borders, that set matters back. None of the youth liked that policy, and when the lodge voted on the by-laws to change the lodge flap policy to conform with national policy, no youth voted for the change, lodge officers abstained from voting since they too disagreed with the policy. Again the LA had to step in and say there is no choice in the matter, the by-laws will be changed to coincide with national policy, which is also in the by-laws. In essence the vote really didn't matter, and that further ticked off the youth.(This message has been edited by eagle92)


              • #8
                See, the reason I don't do "OA" is because where I live, the OA is populated by people who think because they are "OA" they are somehow better than the rest of us, and OMG, if you are Vigil, then nothing emanating from you stinks. I thought National did away with the border design because of the attitude that OA was all about what level you were, Vigil above all, Brotherhood above Ordeal and poor Ordeal members were just lucky to be allowed to hag out with the other groups. I was willing to say that since all scouting is local, that the attitudes that I have seen were just a local aberration but now I am not sure.

                I don't know how to make somehting better when an elitist attitude is where you start


                • #9
                  OGE is correct about "ranks" in OA. There is no such thing. A member is a member is a member when done correctly. An Ordeal member is a person accepted by the Lodge on the recommendation of his peers who elected him. A Brotherhood member is an Ordeal member who after at least 10 months has self determined that he embraces the ideals of the Order and seals his Brotherhood. A Vigil member is someone who after two years of being a Brotherhood member is nominated to be honored for their dedication and selfless service. That is the distinction of what each type of membership is, but they mean nothing in terms of someone being more important than another. If that isn't being taught in a Lodge, they are doing it wrong.

                  While there were a few upset in our Lodge about the rule against different borders on the flaps, the biggest complainers are the two adults in the Lodge that are huge into patch trading. If you aren't into patch trading, whickh I'm not, it's really no big deal.

                  I've heard of those Lodges that restrict the flap in an attempt to prevent sash and dash. I've heard of withholding the patch until they come to a chapter meeting or until x hours of service. I think it is a shortsighted approach. An Arrowman's first responsibilty is to his troop. As long as he is providing service to his troop, he is considered a member in good standing. When they complete their Ordeal, they are members.....period. Would we ever condone withholding a boys rank patch until he completes the next 3 MB's for his next rank? I think not.(This message has been edited by sr540beaver)


                  • #10
                    If it's Ok with folks, I'm spinning off the flap issue.

                    back on topic.

                    You got to have a program that attracts people. You gotta have folks enthusiastic, and you gotta have some fun with the work. Word of mouth is the best way to market, and if Arrowmen are having fun, they will stay, at least until they leave for college and/or military.


                    • #11
                      Although I shouldn't be, I'm always surprised at what other Lodges around the country do, or don't do.

                      I read some of Seattle's ideas and wondered "wait a sec, aren't they already doing that?". In my home lodge, the chapters do their call-outs at the Spring Camporee. The units are even escorted to the ceremony site by torch-bearing "indians" wearing their sashes - in silence both to and from the site of the "sacred ceremony". Back when I was Lodge Vice Chief, someone suggested changing the tradition to having call-outs at summer camp, like our neighboring council did. It was discussed for about 10 minutes before it was decided not to even investigate the possibility. Our Lodge had active chapters and active members - and I believe it's at least partly because of the visibility of the chapters at camporees.

                      We also tended to be fairly loose, errrr, creative about what constituted an OA event. If the chapter ran the Sunday morning flag ceremony at the fall camporee, we declared the entire camporee a chapter OA event - and that means people wore their sashes. We had an annual scout show - the Scout-O-Rama - usually held in March or early April - at one of the biggest indoor event arenas in the area at the time - Arlington Park Racetrack (horse racing). Units from the entire council converged on the track and had booths with games, activities and displays. Tickets were sold by the Scouts in the units - and prizes could be earned - it was a great way for units and the council to earn some money, and a great way to show off the Boy Scouts. OA Sashes were worn throughout the entire weekend. How did we accomplish that? By holding Lodge officer elections during Scout-O-Rama. Another OA event!

                      For the past 15 years or so, the Lodge has been running a "haunted campgrounds" event at a local Methodist campgrounds - it's well publicized throughout the Council, and the public is invited as well. It's a fundraiser for the Lodge and has been very successful. Scouts in uniforms get in at a discounted price - and the patches available for purchase are the most macabre Scouting patches you'll ever see.

                      And even though there is a spun thread to talk about the flaps, I just have to say - No flaps for new Ordeal members? Really?? That's got to be one of the most asinine ideas I've heard from a Lodge in a long time - and frankly, I blame it on the "Quality Lodge" program, if trying to get more people to become Brotherhood is one of the reasons for that.

                      And shame on any Vigil Honor Member who is in it for a special flap. This whole idea of different colored borders for different "levels" of membership sounds like something a patch collector might dream up and is a perversion of the ideals of the Order.