Jump to content

Recommended Posts

I know that this is simple, but I'm still a bit new to scouting, and find that getting info is harder than it should be. Camping does not seem to be stressed very much at all for cub scouters, although camping is the #1 thing the kids all want to do. Along these lines, I discovered that an adult leader can be elected into the OA, provided they have met the camping requirements. This would be a great opportunity for me to learn the ins and outs of camping, especially as the boys progress through the ranks! My question, is how does an adult leader get to meet the 6 day consecutive camping requirements? The only BSA approved campouts scheduled are one/two day overnighters. The local council hasn't been very helpful, and I haven't found anyone locally who seems to know the answer? Can anyone help? Thanks!

Link to post
Share on other sites

You're question is one that comes up often to new Scouters. There are many reasons that Cub don't camp as much as Boy Scouts.

1- many of them are too young for extended camping.

2- parents MUST BE involved in Cub camping, and many of them can;t make that committment.

3- Many are not physically capable of pitching tents, cutting firewood, and are probably limited on cooking skills.


Cub Scouting is when the foundations for Boy Scouting are laid. That's not to say that Cub Scouts shouldn't camp, OR that they're not important. But they need to first learn team work, the patrol method, camping skills, self-reliance, and so on. This is where Cub Scouting is vital, not just for future Boy Scouts, but for personal growth on the Cub's part.


As for OA, there are much better opportunities to hone your skills AND learn camping. Webelos Outdoor Leader Training, BLT, Wood Badge, council training Comm., and so on.


Please take this as advice from a brother Scouter- make sure you're in this for the boys, and not yourself. Camping is not the #1 thing ALL kids want to do. They also like having fun, learning things, making friends, enjoying family time, and adventures of all kinds. The Cub program does a wonderful job at this.

Link to post
Share on other sites

As Stan says, there are much better avenues to take to gain the skills of camping. Camping with a Scout Troop is one of the best, in addition to those listed in Stan's post.


Also, be aware that the OA does not exist for adults, and adults are only allowed (elected) in at the will of the boy leadership of the OA Chapter after being selected by the adult leadership of a Scout Troop for eligibility. And, it is not an organization built around learning camping skills. It exists as a service organization which happens to do a bit of camping as part of its agenda.


Better to follow some of the other possibilities listed.


Link to post
Share on other sites

As a longstanding member of OA, and recently a district level advisor, I agree with the other posts that OA is not a good place to learn camping skills. OA is the national honor society within scouting, and exists to recognize outstanding scouts, perform service, and promote camping (which is different than providing camping training). Adults can be elected into the OA by their units and here is the requirement.


First of all the unit with which the adult is affiliated must elect at least one youth member during the twelve month election cycle (usually a calendar year). The requirements for youth eligibility for election are: actively registered, first class scout or higher, approved by unit leader, Less than 21 years of age at time of election, fifteen nights camping in the 24 months preceding election under the auspices of the BSA (of which 6 nights must be at a long term camp). Only one session at a summer camp can be counted for this purpose. Thus a youth who attended summer camp two summers in a row, gets to count only one of those sessions. The balance must be made up in "short term" camping activities, a concept which is not defined. All camping must be under BSA auspices. Thus recreational camping with one's family does not count.


Based on the rank requirement alone, no Webelos or cub scout can be elected to OA, therefore no cub unit can elect an adult volunteer.


The nights camping is a rolling requirement. We had a youth elected in 2000 who never made it to an ordeal within the prescribed twelve month window after his election, and was not eligible for election in 2001 because he had not gone to summer camp with the troop for the two preceding summers.


If a unit elects at least one youth member during an election cycle, the unit committee may nominate one adult for the first 50 active scouts in the unit. If there are more than 50 active youth, the unit may nominate two adults. The OA does not prescribe any rules or procedure for selecting adults other than imposing the eligibility requirement. To be eligible adults must meet the nights camping requirement in the same manner as a youth. As a practical matter, it is very difficult for an adult to qualify unless they commit a lot of time to camping with their unit, including at least one session of summer camp. Old Grey Eagle points out that extended expeditions at high adventure bases may be counted as "long term camps." The official OA guidelines that I am familiar with make no mention of such activities. I have counted such activities as either "long term camp" or "other camping" when I have reviewed records.


jmcquillan states in his post that the youth at the chapter level control adult membership. In our council, adult membership is handled strictly through adult channels. Adult nomination forms are prepared and signed by the unit committee chair, approved by the OA district (chapter) advisor, and approved by the council (lodge) advisor.


In any given year, few units would have more than one adult eligible, and the committee essentially "appoints" the adult candidates. Any person registered with scouting over age of 21 is counted as an adult for OA purposes.


There are numerous OA websites that can provide more information.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Eisely, your reply was pretty detailed. Good info. Could you suggest a couple of sites. My boy and I need more info. He qualified last year,but was a first year scout and the SM felt it was a good idea to leave him off the ballot. He will qualify again this year but I am not sure if it is suited to his interests and time available. I hear of too many scouts that are elected and don't do the ordeal or if they do then don't participate to any great extent. How many hours can be expected in a year: of service, camping, leadership, etc.? If he is to put his name on the ballot and elected, a possibility, he would have a pretty substatial obligation in my view. Yarrow

Link to post
Share on other sites



A scout is, among other things, helpful.


As far as I can tell there is no website for the national OA. At the end of this post I have pasted in the text of a "fact sheet" from the BSA National official website. I can find 60 lodge websites on the internet. There may be more. All I did was search for "order of the arrow." You need to see if one of those websites is for your local lodge. Even if your local lodge does not keep a website, you may find it useful and informative to browse some other lodge web sites. This will give you a flavor of what the OA does.


Concerning youth participation, your perception is on point. Many youth are elected, go through an ordeal, and are not active in OA beyond that point. OA is an extra layer of scouting that just doesn't seem worth the extra effort to a lot of people, and frankly I can't argue with those judgments. I think OA is worthwhile, but I have not been able to support it the way I wanted to.


As a matter of policy OA does not want to divert youth leadership effort away from local units. This policy by itself makes OA pretty low key in a lot of areas. One problem that arises for youth members is just getting to and from OA activities. If one is going on a troop outing, the troop arranges transportation. If one is the only youth in a unit desiring to go to an OA event, one has to persuade a parent to drive, or find transportation elsewhere. Whenever I go to an OA event I routinely reach out to other units in the area to offer rides, just for this reason.


Any youth who is elected should certainly go through an ordeal. After that the youth can decide for themselves how involved they want to become. I can't say how much time a youth can expect to spend. There is always a need for lodge and chapter officers, ceremonial teams, and support at ordeals. Some lodges and chapters also organize indian dance teams, which are purely for fun. Most lodges schedule other events during a twelve month cycle. Again, more time is required.


I don't know your son, or how old he is, but I think your scoutmaster is probably right. It is a serious honor, and the ordeal itself can be demanding. A twelve year old or thirteen year old may be too young to appreciate it all.


Text of fact sheet below:



Order of the Arrow


The purpose of the Order of the Arrow is fourfold:


To recognize those Scout campers who best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives

To develop and maintain camping traditions and spirit

To promote Scout camping

To crystallize the Scout habit of helpfulness into a life purpose of leadership in cheerful service to others


The Order of the Arrow (OA) was founded by Dr. E. Urner Goodman and Carroll A. Edson in 1915 at the Treasure Island Camp of the Philadelphia Council, Boy Scouts of America. It became an official program experiment in 1922 and was approved as part of the Scouting program in 1934. In 1948 the OA, recognized as the BSA's national brotherhood of honor campers, became an official part of the national camping program of the Boy Scouts of America.



The OA has more than 181,000 members located in lodges affiliated with more than 300 BSA local councils.



To become a member, a youth must be a registered member of a Boy Scout troop or Varsity Scout team and hold First Class rank. The youth must have experienced 15 days and nights of camping during the two years before his election. The 15 days and nights must include one, but no more than one, long-term camp consisting of six consecutive days and five nights of resident camping, approved and under the auspices and standards of the Boy Scouts of America. The balance of the camping must be overnight, weekend, or other short-term camps. Scouts are elected to the Order by their fellow troop or Varsity team members, following approval by the Scoutmaster or Varsity Scout Coach.



The induction ceremony, called the Ordeal, is conducted at Scout camp and is the first step toward full membership. During the experience, candidates maintain complete silence, receive small amounts of food, work on camp improvement projects, and are required to sleep alone, apart from other campers, which teaches significant values.


Brotherhood Membership

After 10 months of service and fulfilling certain requirements, a member may take part in the Brotherhood ceremony, which places further emphasis on the ideals of Scouting and the Order. Completion of this ceremony signifies full membership in the OA.


Vigil Honor

After two years of service as a Brotherhood member, and with the approval of the national Order of the Arrow Committee, a Scout may be recognized with the Vigil Honor for outstanding service to Scouting, his lodge, and the community. This honor is bestowed by special selection and is limited to one person for every 50 members registered with the lodge each year.



Each Order of the Arrow lodge is granted a charter from the National Council, BSA, upon annual application by the local council. The OA lodge helps the local council provide a quality Scouting program through recognition of Scouting spirit and performance, development of youth leadership and service, promotion of Scout camping and outdoor programs, and enhancement of membership tenure.



An Order of the Arrow section consists of lodges within a geographic area of the region. Once every year, representatives of lodges in the section come together for a conclave to share in fellowship, skills, and training. All of the elected section chiefs form the conference committee for a national Order of the Arrow event, which is held under the guidance of the national Order of the Arrow Committee.


The regional chief is the youth leader of the region elected by the section chiefs for a term of office specified by the national Order of the Arrow Committee, which coincides with the term of national chief and vice chief. This election is held in conjunction with called meetings of the section chiefs to elect the national chief and vice chief, as well as to plan a national Order of the Arrow event.


The regional Order of the Arrow chairman is an adult appointed by the regional director. The professional adviser for the region is a staff member assigned to the position by the region director.


National Chief and Vice Chief

The national chief and vice chief are Arrowmen selected by the section chiefs, who form the national Order of the Arrow conference committee. They serve as members of the national Order of the Arrow Committee, representing the youth on national OA policy. They also serve as the presiding officers for the national OA event. Their term of office is specified by the national committee. They are advised in their responsibilities by the national committee chairman and director of the Order of the Arrow.


National OA Committee Chairman

The national OA committee chairman is appointed by the chairman of the national Boy Scout Committee. The professional adviser is the director of the Order of the Arrow, a member of the national Boy Scout Division staff.





Link to post
Share on other sites

This thread certainly demonstrates the diversity of the AO throughout the country. Obviously some areas interpret rules differently. In my area, you show up for the sprin and fall work in and you are considered quite invovled. Monthly meetings are held, but transportation is an issue for the youth. Its the same night and place as our districts roundtable, so usually only sons of scoutmaster types show up or are officers.



Link to post
Share on other sites



Should your son be elected, he should accept the honor and go to an ordeal. Then he can make a more informed decision about future involvement. Accepting membership in OA is more of a commitment to scouting than it is to OA specifically. There are a variety of ways that one can serve and meet the spirit of OA without necessarily becoming an officer in the organization.


I have three sons, all of whom went through ordeals and became members. Only my youngest, still in high school, has shown any real interest in OA, getting his brotherhood this last June. I am somewhat conflicted about this. If I encourage and support him in the direction of OA involvement, he may never finish his eagle. It is hard to do both.


Our council operates three different resident camps during the summer camping season, and has two other sites which are used for a variety of activities. This in turn leads the lodge to run five ordeals every year, which, in my opinion is too many. All resources are stretched thin and we, in my opinion, end up substituting quantity for quality some times. In this particular environment it would be possible for a youth to do nothing but OA activities, and still be very busy indeed.


To repeat myself, a youth should always at least complete an ordeal if elected. If such a youth continues in scouting as an adult, and such involvement would be highly likely, that person will find it is much more difficult to become a member as an adult than it is as a youth.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 year later...

It is good to see such different views about the OA. Having been a member for almost 30 years, let me put in my two cents. Some of the comments I read from everyone saddens me. I loved being a member of the OA and it did not seem to require that much time. Working at ordeals was especially fun for me, because I would get to see all the new candidates as they made this step. When I was young I was very active and it did not seem to cause any problem with attaining my Eagle. As I grew older my time became more involved in school, sports and girls and less in Scouts and the OA. Now my sons are in scouts and I will become more involved again and look forward to it. To me becoming a member of the OA was one of the greatest honors, since it was from the recognition of my fellow troop members. Anyone can earn their ranks all the way to Eagle, but not everyone will be done the honor of being inducted to The Order of the Arrow.

My message to everyone selected is Be Proud For You Have Been Honored By All of Those In Your Troop and Listen Closely To The message you are given at the ordeal ceremony.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Let me concur with Pirate - if you are elected, complete the Ordeal. I always considered it an honor to be elected by my peers. After you complete the Ordeal, you can then decide how much further you want to go, and how much you want to devote to the local chapter and lodge.


There is an "offical" OA website: www.oa-bsa.org. I think the "Chiefly Thought" by National Vice-Chief Riley Berg (just follow the link on the home page) is very relevant to this discussion. (In short: You don't have to be heavily involved in your Lodge or Chapter to be a good Arrowman! Cheerful Service to Scouting can be provided in a number of ways.)


FWIW, I never thought the time requirements were all that restrictive. But we had a big enough lodge that not everyone had to do everything, so you could be meaningfully involved without having to be at every event. However, that was over 20 years ago, so it might be different in these times and in other places.


Personally, my involvement in the OA was one of the best parts of my later years in Scouting (ages 14-16, in my case). After pushing a sled around at three or four Klondike Derbies, it was more fun to be on the staff side of the event. (And they snuck in some leadership opportunites and service along with the fun. The BSA is sneaky that way.)


Link to post
Share on other sites

You mentioned details about how a youth becomes eligable and can join OA, but what about adults? I have seen adult members who were "tapped out" at camp - is their process and ordeal the same as for the boys?


I'm thinking that as my son gets older and does more outings that won't include Mom (backpacking trips and stuff I can't /won't do, and him getting older and more independant)OA might be a way for me to still be involved.


Either that or volunteer on the District level.


But I'm more camping oriented than paperwork/organization oriented, if you get my meaning - staffing camporees and klondikes would be right up my alley!


So how does an adult get involved in OA? and what is involved for the adults once they are there?


Link to post
Share on other sites



In an earlier post to this thread I described how adults are elected to OA.


One way to think about this is (1) a person becomes eligible, (2) a person is elected by the their unit and becomes a "candidate", and (3) a person goes through an ordeal and becomes a member.


At the unit level, for an adult to be elected requires (1) the unit must elect at least one youth candidate during the 12 month election cycle, (2) the adult must meet the same "nights camping" requirement as required for youth to be eligible, and (3) the adult election, or nomination, must be approved by the OA leadership. Once elected and approved an adult candidate must complete an ordeal just the same as a youth candidate. This ordeal must be completed within twelve months of being elected, or the candidacy expires. This last requirement also applies to youth.


As an aside, your advancement coordinator should be keeping track of nights camping for everybody, both youth and adult, in the unit.


The actual election of adult candidates is the responsibility of the unit committee. While there are fairly detailed procedures for holding the election for youth candidates, I have never seen a prescribed procedure for electing adult candidates. I think that one reason for this is that units seldom have more than one non-member adult who becomes eligible during and election cycle.


Few adults who become members maintain a high level of activity in OA. It is not required and nobody is keeping track. Adults are elected and approved based on the expectation that they are committed to scouting generally. I have never seen an adult nomination turned down.


As you are aware, there is another layer of adult volunteers at the district level. For many of these adults, this is their only current involvment with OA. District committees can also nominate adult candidates from among the district volunteer staff, but I am not familiar with the the requirements and procedures for doing this.

Link to post
Share on other sites

In addition to previously stated points about selecting adults for membership in OA:


Larger troops can select more than 1 adult. Number depends on number of youth in troop.

0-50 boys --- 1 adult

51-100 boys --- 2 adults

101-150 boys --- 3 adults


For OA purposes, you're a 'boy' until 21.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...