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Building A New OA Program

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  • #16
    I don't think preservation of Native American culture or any other culture falls to the OA or any other part of the BSA. The OA is there to honor campers and promote a life of service. It does so in an imaginative way, because that's more fun that just preaching at people that they should camp more and do more service projects. If you don't like the OA you don't have to be part of it.

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    • #17
      Hello Neil,


      Unfortunately, the current methods don't seem very imaginative. They seem rather dated and of little interest to Scouts, even Cub Scouts when I have seen our district OA chapter providing a ceremony.

      Some imaginative new ideas seem sorely needed, and that I what I was suggesting in earlier posts.

      I haven't participated in OA because I have too many other Scouting positions already and because the program has little interest to me. It's possible I might take an interest in the program if there was room for some new ideas of the kind I was suggesting. Apparently there is room for such things, so it's something I might consider down the trail some time.

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      • #18
        Words of "wisdom" from old-timers usually begin with: "It all started to go downhill when . . . " So, I'll spare you that.

        When I was a Scout and camp staffer, back in the '50s and '60s, OA was a regular part of Scout camp. Tap outs were followed immediately with the Ordeal. The candidates were led back to their campsites, in silence, and packed up what they were allowed for their night in woods. Next day, they were seen around camp, wearing their wooden arrows around their necks, doing work that the camp director had determined, usually something that could be seen for a while, not cleaning or other chores. Then, they went back to their campsite, showered and put on their uniforms, still silent, and went off to a "secret" campfire circle where the ceremonies took place. After a cracker barrel, they returned to camp, proudly wearing a brand new white sash with a red arrow. The mystique was very powerful and every kid wanted to be in OA.

        Sometime in the seventies, somebody decided that this was interfering with camp program (read merit badge classes), took staff away from their duties and thus banished the Ordeal from summer camp. No more mystique, except perhaps the tap-out or calling-out ceremony campfire itself.

        Now, it's true that some lodges did very little in the off season, but others did. The point is, everyone could see the OA in action at summer camp. Today, they do their service largely in their own weekends and nobody sees the results. The only thing non-members see is the lodge flap and members wearing their sashes to courts of honor and other places where we never did.

        Coincidentally, OA enthusiasm has been on the decline. Or maybe not coincidentally.

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        • #19
          > If you don't like the OA you don't have to be part of it.

          Sigh.

          I wonder how many good organizations and businesses over the years died because of a prideful refusal to listen to, acknowledge, and act upon feedback.

          Many, I imagine. Very many.

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          • #20
            BSA24,

            Very true what you are saying above. If your lodge has issues, you need to provide feedback or it will only get worse.

            But making blanket statements about the OA like in another thread, well they just are not accurate. Every lodge is different.

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            • #21
              I'd like to see our lodge do something no one else is doing, promote our council's camp.

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              • #22
                I agree that OA activities and visibility vary significantly from lodge to lodge. I, too, wish my lodge was more visible and more integrated into council, district and unit activities. However, I recognize that the lodge is what it is because the Scout Executive is the Supreme Chief of the Fire. If she only sees the lodge as "free labor for BSA to set up/take down summer camp at council scout camps", then that what the it be. If he delegates all responsibility to the staff advisor, then it's the staff advisor's vision that shapes the lodge. Anyone agree with me?


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                • #23
                  "I agree that OA activities and visibility vary significantly from lodge to lodge. I, too, wish my lodge was more visible and more integrated into council, district and unit activities. However, I recognize that the lodge is what it is because the Scout Executive is the Supreme Chief of the Fire. If she only sees the lodge as "free labor for BSA to set up/take down summer camp at council scout camps", then that what the it be. If he delegates all responsibility to the staff advisor, then it's the staff advisor's vision that shapes the lodge. Anyone agree with me?"

                  No.

                  What I see happening in many lodges is due to the vision of the youth and the volunteer lodge advisor. Seldom does the SE or their delegated staff advisor impose themselves on lodges.

                  I've seen lodges that were treated like that, but turned it around due to the hardwork of the youth and their adult advisors.

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                  • #24
                    >If your lodge has issues, you need to provide feedback or it will only get worse.

                    Did that already. The response: You are not required to participate.

                    Did you expect that scouters in general respond differently to criticisms than the people here? Conduct a study? Run a survey? Try to gather data and be scientific? No. Instead, just dig in and say that they would rather do it "the right way" than they would see it survive. This is the problem with an organization that tells its members it is based on values instead of some other purpose. Values in people's minds trump everything. Better to die on a cross and be right than change.

                    From reading my old handbook, it looks like back in the early 20th century, Scouting was an outdoor activity and the members were expected to conduct themselves as gentlemen according to a code of conduct.

                    The difference today is that BSA says it is a values organization that does outdoor stuff.

                    That one change probably explains almost every problem BSA is having today. It explains BSA's digging in on particular controversies, and it explains why OA members don't want to change their traditions or improve their program.



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                    • #25
                      "They seem rather dated and of little interest to Scouts, even Cub Scouts when I have seen our district OA chapter providing a ceremony."

                      Perhaps they are not interested because the OA members doing the cermony are just learning how to perform. My chapter does around 35-40 crossover cermonies in late January-February, almost 4 a week. We travel all across the state for our ceremonies, because we are very good at ceremonies. The thrill that I see in Cub Scouts when we do a crossover is something I will never forget. Every guy whos been on our ceremony team almost instantly loves it even if they were not to keen on it in the first place.

                      Our ceremonies might seem dated because they are rooted in almost 100 years of tradition. There are some things in ceremony that we could do better but we only perform a few times a year.

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                      • #26
                        >


                        Perhaps. The adult leader who has rebuilt OA over the past 3-4 years is an excellent man and I'm sure he's been doing the best he could. He has been a leading part of the Indian themed ceremonies I saw.

                        But it is what it is --- of little interest even to Cub Scouts.

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                        • #27
                          The best way to make ceremonies better is to have a youth work on them, maybe even rewrighting the script and leading the building of new regalia.

                          If the youth can also sit in on district committee meetings and roundtables to help establish the OA presence then they might do more with the district.

                          I do like the idea of a new program that works with webelos, or new scouts, or teaches advanced scout skills but why can't the old program do that as well?

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                          • #28

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                            • #29
                              There is little interest in the Native American hobby in my Lodge. It seems to wax and wane due to pure coincidence. We have seen our singing team be the National Champs at NOAC and we go for years with no interest. We strive for accurate and appropriate clothing for our ceremonies.

                              I'm not sure what my Council would do without the OA support. The thousands of hours and dollars committed to our camps. We also commit hundreds of hours to community service whether it's a beach cleanup or the cleanup of an elderly citizen's home. Our Scout Executive's first call when in a bind for help is always the OA because he knows that they will commit and serve.

                              I guess people get hung up on the visible actions and contributions of the OA like service and ceremonies, but forget it's about providing a potential for leadership growth that no Troop or Crew can provide. I have watched 17 year old "men" manage a Section Conference with a $40K budget. To me, that is what the OA is about.

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                If you believe the OA serves no real purpose, I would say that either your lodge is not fulfilling its mission, or you aren't well informed about what the OA does in your council.

                                An active and thriving lodge provides a significant amount of service to the council, camps, and community, as well as financial support. At the National Order of the Arrow Conference last week, the new Chief Scout Executive addressed the attendees and threw around some statistics that indicated the OA provided over 1 million man-hours of service to councils and camps in 2011, and many more millions in direct financial contributions and materials. Many of these projects go beyond just setting up camp. Over the past three years my lodge has completed many lasting projects at the two camps it supports including gateways to both council rings, fencing around the waterfront, and a new waterfront tower.

                                Many lodges, including my own, support the cub program by running an Arrow of Light weekend for 2nd year webelos. It is held at the Boy Scout Camp and is run much like a day at camp, with the intent of promoting the camp to these webelos and getting them to camp the following year. This event is always a huge success.

                                In my opinion, the largest contribution the OA gives is real, hands-on leadership opportunities to youth. In this regard the OA is much different than a troop, crew, or any other Scouting program. In a well run lodge, the adults take a back seat - mentoring and coaching behind the scenes - while only the youth take the stage. There is no "troop committee" calling the shots. The boys run the budget, the finances, the program, the day to day operations of the lodge, as well as long range strategic planning. This is done with coaching and mentoring by adults.

                                A well run lodge supports the council and is aligned with the council's goals and priorities.

                                It is important to understand that Native American culture preservation is not part of the purpose or mission of the Order of the Arrow. If your lodge operates as if they are, they are not following the OA program. Ceremonies/Dance, etc. are used to augment the program. A well run ceremony is a very inspiring thing, whether you are at your first Pre-Ordeal ceremony or your hundredth. They help us be mindful of our purpose.

                                This is all not to say that there are lodges out there that are run more by adults, or that they are poorly managed and not following the program. That is a real shame to see. But many lodges across the country are integral to a successful council and camp operation.

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