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  • what does OA do?

    I'm very ignorant regarding OA. i have no idea what they do. all of my patrol members in WB are member of OA, most of all our troop leaders are member of OA. some of the older boys in our troop are in OA. there is OA election every year at our troop... but i have no clue what they exactly do. what do they do? i did search the google, and read the mission statement and so on. but no idea what it does.

  • #2
    In our council, they do pretty much nothing. They go through the motions for call-outs, ordeals, etc and help a bit around the camp. When they came to do an OA election in my last troop, the OA member showed up in blue jeans and school sweatshirt. My SPL told him he can come back when he finds his uniform. He never came back, ever and that was the end of the OA program for that troop.

    Hopefully other forum members can add something more positive.



    • Oldscout448
      Oldscout448 commented
      Editing a comment
      Kudos to your SPL, may his tribe increase

  • #3
    The OA is the camping honor society of BSA. Their goal is supposed to be cheerful service. I'm not a member of OA (don't want to be, but that's a different story), but both of my sons are. They love it. They do work at camp to fix it up some. My sons are involved in a ceremony team where they dress up like Native Americans and dance, and say solemn things. My sons are part of an OA election team (our SM volunteered to help our, so that means the 4 troop OA members were voluntold to help out). They are in full uniform when they do this, although ironically the election team that showed for our election did not.


    • #4
      The OA is a scouting honor and service organization. In practice it's social club of sorts. Not my sorta gig but I did make it to brotherhood as a youth. I try to volunteer once a year for something the OA does.


      • #5
        I always figured it was one of those super secret by invitation only societies that like to show off their emblems and garb, but nothing else..... Nobody "really knows" what they do (like the Freemasons, Shriners, Knights, etc...)
        I figure they all meet on Friday the 13th, and other unspecified evenings, in a rooms with no windows, and do "stuff"..... very mysterious you know.....


        • blw2
          blw2 commented
          Editing a comment
          this comment was made, tongue in cheek
          Re-reading now, I can see that it could be taken as serious.

          Truth is, I know nothing of the OA, except I have seen some scouters and scouts wearing the garb.

      • #6
        OA is the BSA honor society; at one time it was the BSA honor "camping" society. Its primary purpose was to recognize those scouts and scouters that were the best examples of scout spirit and camping in their units, or sometimes in district or council positions. It was usually focused on local camp development and support, but the unit was, and still is, supposed to be first; that is, it was never intended to take these strong troop members out of the unit leadership. In my opinion, the loss of focus in many lodges today started with that simple name change and its redirection in "how you became a member", the election system. Before, it had limited membership with very specific rules in how many could be elected in any particular year. You very seldom saw scouts younger than 14 elected due to the tighter procedures. I did not become an Ordeal member until I was 15 and a Life Scout in 1959; our troop could only elect one or two people that year. It "was not a given you would complete the Ordeal"; there were Ordeal rules that actually were adhered to, and if you broke them you were sent home. Of course, that too became on occasion an issue that partly led to today's weaker groups. The ceremonial parts were kept much more guarded, sometimes too much so, which led to much of the changes in play today when there were problems that should not have happened if the ones involved had lived the Oath and Law, which is still part of the Order.

        Like most subsidiary programs within BSA, the OA has a prime or ideal goal and relationship to the program. And like many others, it depends considerably on the local council and district leadership within the lodge whether it is succeeding. So there are strong lodges with long term perpetuated traditions that no one would ask your question of. There are lodges, like ours, that most understand their main purpose, but that have a washboard journey from year to year as to how well they show themselves as living up to the purpose. Sadly, there are quite a few lodges that are pretty much paper lodges that do almost nothing but make patches and have elections.

        The original lodges, those that were in existence from 1915 at Treasure Island until it became an official part of BSA in the 40's were built on local camp honor groups that eventually became lodges in the 40's. For example, in our council we had a group called the Tribe of Matilija that was an honor group at our local camps, first Camp Grey and then 3-Falls after we lost Grey to the highway 33 construction near Ojai. They have a fairly consistent record in good camp support from the earliest days, though there have been stretches since I have been here the past 35+ years that they were not overly successful; we are moving in that direction right now I am afraid. We have gone through some periods of "flap madness" and too much inbred political, or favoritism; but overall our lodge here has been pretty good I feel. Certainly right now it needs a lot of redirection to get back to the level it was a decade or so ago, IMO.

        So, hopefully this long answer will help you a bit. There technically has never been absolute secrecy in the Order, but in the earlier days, the traditions and ceremonies were restricted much more and seemed to have more effect when seen by those outside the group, such as at "tap outs" in camp or at COR's. The PC police and "nobody should fail or be embarrassed" proponents have hurt it; of course it has hurt the overall BSA program even more I fear. Yet it is still an honor. If your are lucky, you will be exposed to the best of the tradition and not a weak, tepid paper program.


        • #7
          In addition to what's mentioned above, the OA is supposed to promote long-term camping in their council.

          and support the Cub Scout outdoor program:


          • #8
            Wow! It seems as though there is a lot of negative reaction to OA on this thread... I don't currently have a vested interest, other than my son, who recently earned 1st class is excited that elections are upcoming, and hopes to be elected. As I am a new SM, and have met camping requirements, I have been told that I will be nominated as well.

            By looking at these responses; OA comes off a little lackluster, and I hope my Scouts (and I) am not disappointed. Very negative vibe throughout this thread. I hope the experience is better than the reports!


            • #9
              Interesting post Skeptic. thanks
              So who decides who should be honored?
              From your post, it seems the troop or unit would vote on it.
              Must be a Boy Scout level thing..... in my 2.5 years+ of being a scouter for a pack, I've not seen anything for it.


              • #10

                The Order of the Arrow is what you do with it. If you expect your lodge/chapter to have an incredible program of which you get to pick and choose what you want to do, you will be very disappointed. It is unfair for any OA member to criticize the lodge or chapter, without getting directly involved. Scouts and Scouters make it work or not. I wish the OA hadn't opened up the nomination requirements, but they did. It is up to the Scoutmasters to make sure that if a Scout wants to be nominated for their annual OA Election, that they understand the benefits and responsibilities of the OA. The Scoutmaster's approval requirement for nomination for election, seems to be getting ignored a lot, and should be where potential OA members need to think if they really want to be a member or not. Over many years as a SM, I've had Scouts turn down having their name on the ballot for just that. Brotherhood of Cheerful Service. Go big, or go home.

                We have an active lodge and chapter. Are they perfect? No. It's always a work in progress. You've got to get involved. It's another Scouting opportunity.



                • #11
                  Don't let the negative vibe affect your opinion of the OA before you even get involved. This board is negative about everything. The OA, like everything in scouts, is exactly what you make of it. I can't speak for all Lodges but in mine our annual calendar looks something like this:

                  Feb: Lodge Friendship Gathering and Pow Wow (open to members, non-members, and the community)
                  Mar: Lodge Lock-in open to all Scouts and Webelos
                  Apr: Section Conclave (gathering of lodges throughout the BSA section) for training and fellowship
                  May: Call-Outs, Camporee Support in the Districts
                  June: Spring Fellowship at Council Summer Camp. Ordeal candidates and members do projects to get camp ready for summer.
                  Sept: Fall Fellowship at Council Cub Camp. Ordeal candidates and members do project to help winterize and/or build up the new Cub Camp
                  Oct: Camporee support in the Districts. Participate in setup/tear down and sometimes host a scene at the Council Haunted Hike
                  Nov: Provide labor/service for the Council Popcorn distribution
                  Jan: Wrap up our year at the Winter Banquet.

                  I'd like to see us doing more at the District level but you need something to work on.

                  The OA also runs summer programs for older scouts. You can check out for more details, but the quick summary is volunteer to go work at one of the BSA high adventure bases for a week and get a week of high adventure.

                  In 2011 the OA spent 4 weeks in WV building mountain bike trails in the New River Gorge National River (great experience, but my back still hurts). In 2014 there is a section in the upper mid-west planning a week long conservation project along a national scenic river in WI/MN. In 2008 I think it was the OA sponsored conservation projects across the country in 4 or 5 National Forests.


                  • #12
                    I think the responses on the forum would be more positive if the question was, "What should the OA be doing?" It varies from one lodge to the next as to what actually happens, just like Packs vary and Troops vary.


                    • #13
                      I been around. some lodges are awesome, some ok, some need work. Some focus on American Indian Affairs, some cheerful service, some promoting camp. It's what the scouts put into it.

                      I'm fortunate in that the lodge I am in does a lot. I'm not as active as I wish I could be, but here are someof the activities my chapter and lodge does

                      January = Lodge leadership Development
                      February= Local camps workday
                      March= Ordeal Weekend at main camp, Chapter fundraiser ( trading post) at Webeloree
                      April= Conclave
                      May= Ordeal Weekend at main camp
                      June-August weekly powwows at summer camp
                      Sept. Recover form last 8 months
                      October= Ordeal Weekend, chapter fundraiser at Cub Family Camp (trading post)
                      November = Fall Fellowship, chapter fundraiser at district camporee traiding post.
                      December Chapter Christmas party.

                      Add in chapter workdays, about one every 3-6 months depending upon what is going on, Plus we sometimes have folks going to the camp to work on some of the chapter projects on their own time.

                      Also add in Cross overs, Call Out ceremonies, camp promos and unit elections.

                      Proud to say that my chapter has sent a scout to summer camp every year since forever. Also proud to say that over 10 years,we have donated over $12000 to maintaining the local camp in our district. That money is not budgeted, and it helps ALOT with camp upkeep.


                      • #14
                        My lodge's calendar...
                        January...Winter Ordeal / Vigil Honors and Officers Installed
                        February.....BBQ Fund (mainly Adults who Cook and Deliver the Racks of Ribs)
                        June.....Summer Ordeal/ Officer Elections for Next year
                        June Call Out Ceremony (watermelon social after Call out)

                        We Fit in Sectional Conclave sometimes
                        This Year only 3 Adults have registered to Go to Regional Conclave...Seems Wood Badge split weekends interfere this year. No youths are attending. I offered to pay for a New Member to go if a First timer.....No Takers

                        NOAC and Jambo in those years they occur..Of Course we have to have 2 Patches Designed for Trading
                        No Idea where we spend our Money each year.
                        Our Camp is barely kept up. We have been working on a Smokehouse for over 2 years for sure but it keeps getting put on the Back Burner
                        We have no Permanent OA Call Out Ring, Very Little Regalia
                        Our Ceremonies Ring are poor excuses for Rings...Nothing except Vigil has much in it permanently placed, any Only Named "in Honor" ring

                        I tried to get several Pot Luck dinners and some Fellowships going but as an Adult who is not a Lodge or Assistant Lodge Adviser, my ideas get shot down.

                        I was gonna donate some challenge coins to Lodge..Candidate, Ordeal, Brotherhood, Vigil. .Idea was shot Down because Lodge said they could not afford them....Hummmm My Gift What Cost?

                        I was having a Lodge Hiking Medallion Made to Donate first batch...Again Lodge Says they Could not afford the free Gifts.

                        I was the Only Lodge Member to Help with Disaster Relief in Oklahoma..No one had time

                        In the Days of Old we had Ordeals which covered Friday Night to Sunday Evenings..including Dominoes and Spades Tournaments, We had Monthly Camp Outs, We had Holiday get togethers, We attended Conclaves, We Had Fund Raisers, We had a Great Tap out ring with Arbors, Tepees, Fire Ring which Magically Lit on its own, We had Regalia


                        • Oldscout448
                          Oldscout448 commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Can you share how the fire "magically" lit? Sounds like a impressive thing to do at a tap out. urr call out

                      • #15
                        I've got a Lodge that has several events each year: Spring and Fall Ordeals(staffed by youth members, free labor for setting up/taking down summer camp), Summer Camp Dessert Fellowship(ice cream and cobblers mainly), Fall Fellowship, Winter Banquet, organizing and setting up activities for Fall and Winter Camporees, and we've also started talking about NOAC 2015. We also had trail-building work days when Latimer Reservation was under construction(Latimer is our Council HA Base and, if I might add, AWESOME!).