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OA Ordeal -- Bittersweet

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At District Spring Camporee, my son and I were both tapped out for OA. I felt honored, and was so proud of my son. I was a little nervous about the Ordeal timing, since we're moving soon and I was worried about a schedule conflict. Sure enough, the Ordeal is scheduled for the exact period when we're having furniture packed, moving into temporary digs, and cleaning our house. So, I'll send my son to Ordeal with two other Scouts from our Troop and one of my ASMs who also got tapped out, and I'll be doing a bag-drag. I'm happy for him, but sorry I'll miss my first opportunity. And, it's his first Scouting milestone that I'll miss.


If it's any consolation, our OA advisor told me he'll give me the letter so I can go through Ordeal in our next Council, and pointed out that my son may be able to lead me through. That'd be neat...





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Congrats to you and your son! Too bad you can't complete your Ordeal together. My son & I did. And two weeks ago, I completed my Vigil.


Ed Mori


Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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Can someone explain OA to me. I have heard a lot about it and I know I am being considered for it. Our OA representative has informed me that he has been trying for about the last 6 months to try to get the OA people to come to one of our meetings, but they are having conflict in schedule I guess. Anyway how is OA similar and different to Boy Scout and anything else that you can let me know would be great.

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Can someone explain OA to me. I have heard a lot about it and I know I am being considered for it. Our OA representative has informed me that he has been trying for about the last 6 months to try to get the OA people to come to one of our meetings, but they are having conflict in schedule I guess. Anyway how is OA similar and different to Boy Scout and anything else that you can let me know would be great.

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We're headed to Hawaii -- I guess it's my turn after four tours here!


92_SPL: If your Troop has an OA representative, I'd recommend asking him first up, what OA's all about. In fact, there's a short (15 minutes I guess) video tape that BSA has out there, which is an excellent introduction; we show to the Scouts before each OA election. If your OA rep doesn't have it or hasn't heard of it, check with your Chapter or Lodge Advisor. If you don't know who that is, your Council Service Center can give you contact info.


There are of course some things about the ordeal and the other ceremonies that they won't tell you ahead of time. It's not a deliberate attempt to hide anything, but just intended to make the experience more meaningful by not removing the element of surprise.


Best wishes to you!



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Congrats to you and your son. OA is a significant honor. I hope that it works out for you at your new duty station. Hawaii...tough duty. Are you going to have a new moniker...Hawaii Scouter? Maybe Air Force Scouter?




The Order of the Arrow is the officially recognized national honor society withing the Boy Scouts of America. There are numerous local honor societies, but OA is the only national honor society.


Membership really is a three step process:


1. Determination of eligibility

2. Election by peers at the unit level

3. Completion of an Ordeal


To be eligible for election youth must be at least First Class, approved by their unit leader, and have completed 15 nights of camping in the 24 months preceding election under "the auspices and standards of the Boy Scouts of America." Of these 15 nights, 6 must be consecutive nights in a long term camp, and the remainder must come from short term camping events. This can become quite a record keeping headache at the local unit level, but it has to be done if the unit is to have its boys considered for OA.


Elections are to be conducted by an election team of OA members. Ideally at least two of these should be from another unit. The election procedure itself is fairly involved and I don't want to get into it here. Suffice it to say that the voters are all the youth members of the unit. The OA members are not in the business of picking new members. Each unit is entitled to have one election annually if they have any youth who meet the eligibility requirement.


Once elected, a youth is considered a "candidate". Candidates become members by participating in an "ordeal" which usually takes place over a weekend. Some ordeals are conducted at summer camps in some councils. Candidates have twelve months to complete their ordeal, ortherwise their candidacy expires. Candidates who do not complete an ordeal can be re-elected by their unit in a subsequent election if they then meet the eligibility requirement.


It is the prospect of his candidacy lapsing that KS was referring to in his original post.


Adult scouters are also eligible for OA. Adults have to meet the same "nights camping" requirement, but do not have to meet the rank requirement. Eligible adults are nominated by their unit committee. Once approved by the OA adult advisor hierarchy (for lack of a better word) adult nominees become candidates. Adult candidates go through the same ordeal as the youth to become members. Adult candidates also have twelve months to complete an ordeal.


Concerning "preparing for the surprise", if you are a candidate you will receive communications from the OA lodge (lodges correspond to councils) about what to bring to your ordeal. More than that I will not say.

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Main Entry: ordeal

Pronunciation: or-'dE(-&)l, 'or-"

Function: noun

1 : a primitive means used to determine guilt or innocence by submitting the accused to dangerous or painful tests believed to be under supernatural control

2 : a severe trial or experience


AW GEE both of the meanings of ordeal just seems so Scout like dosn't it?


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First of all, remembering that some of us are responding to the queries of a Scout -- the ordeal is nothing you need to prepare for , 92-SPl. If you're elected, you're prepared enough. Take the stuff with you that's on the equipment list provided by the lodge and don't worry. The lodge is as much a part of the Boy Scouts of America as your council is. If your parents have questions, have them call the council service center and speak to the lodge staff advisor (a profesional.)


As to the point KS (Korea Scouter) started out with . . . the point of his son preceeding him into the OA, let me say this . . .


My dad was in the OA as a youth. He took his brotherhood the wekeend I took my ordeal. I thought it was really cool that he was "ahead" of me in the OA. It seemed only right. Some will know what that phrase means.


A year later, I took brotherhood on my own. It was cool that my dad was there for the ceremony. Two years after that, at the ripe old age of 15 I took my vigil. It was really cool, but it was something I couldn't share with my father.


My favorite night in the Boy Scouts -- and this is my 30th year counting my cub scout, boy scout, explorer, volunteer and professional experience in the Boy Scouts of America -- I can tell you, KS, that the time I hold the most dear was the night I served as Vigil Guide for my own father.


My dad is still alive. I don't want anyone to think that this post is just a memorial. But I'll never forget how good I felt in the morning when I retrieved my Dad from his vigil site. He said he was proud of me. I'm not a father, so I have no idea what he felt. But I am a son, and I was proud enough of my old man to bust open . . .


This Scouting stuff is great. It has a way of binding one to another more powerfully than any argument can drive us apart.


Long story, Korea Scouter (and any others to whom it may apply,) but the moral is that if you can let your son truly preceed you into a safe enviornment and then follow through yourself, you'll be amazed at what it does for his self-esteem, as well as his accomplishments, and he'll be honored and proud to lead you through it when your time comes.


I'll never forget the warm feeling of my fathers hand on my shoulder as we wandered through the pines of southwestern Michigan and I led him to his vigil site.


Thanks for the prickling of this wonderful memory.


Happy father's day . . .soon.



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Thanks for the perspective; I am looking forward to this experience, and for much the same reason you look back on yours with such fondness.


There's a little irony here, as I have always publicly expressed a preference to not be tapped out before my son, since I volunteered in Scouting in the first place to share the experience with him, not without him. Now, the shoe's on the other foot, at least temporarily.


I was his first teacher, and there's still much he has to learn from me. However, I'm increasingly encountering areas where he's schooling me...this will be yet another, and one I'm perfectly content with.



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  • 2 weeks later...

After reading the date on this post I had to wonder. How was your Ordeal? Has your Son and yourself made Brotherhood yet? Where in ROK did you do your Ordeal?

Have you had the opertunity to camp on Cheji-do Island (I hope I spelled it right)? Its the Island off the southwestern tip of ROK. If not giv it a try, its beautiful!! Congrats on your OA ordeal and Brotherhood!




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This is my first posting but I have asked for advice off line from several of the active memebers. I realize there are many ages and levels of scouts that participate in this forum so I will keep it light.


This is about OA in a way. My Wife was tapped out and my son was not. OA is NOT an Honor for adults so why go in if your son is not in the OA? Bittersweet for me too. He is very qualified as a scout to be in OA but new to his troop. We moved from an inactive troop to a very large active troop last year. She tells we lots of adults go into OA before their sons but we can only find one, the person who nominated her. I talked with the local OA council and he knows of NO parent doing this since he has been the OA leader for the last few years. My son does not regret openly that he was not tapped out but has indicated he is happy because now that he has learned what OA is about he feels he is not ready.


Now my son is signed up for Brownsea training and is scared to go. He has learned about the training and indicates to me he was not aware of the details before he signed up. It seems his mother talked him into this as a great experience that was a must for his scouting experience. I just leaned that she is concealing the details of the training for fear that he won't want to go. I have told him he does not have to go. Why does the training need to be a secret?


I bring this up in this group because my wife's scouting experience has been greatly changed since she went to Woodbadge training. It is really changed her life and is creating a lot of stressful situations in our family. Too much pressure is not good, scouting is about fun and growing up. We have not gone 3 days without a scouting activity in our family since September of 02.


I should also tell this group I have not missed a campout with my sons since they joined as tigers. I have only missed summer camps. I don't think that Woodbadge is about not telling the truth to get the results you want with kids. But she is concealing lots of details about scouting activities to get us into scouting things.


I know this group has a lot of OA Woodbadgers and I am prepared for the heat. I will not share the details but this has become a cult like thing for my wife. We need to leave the program to save our relationship. I think scouting is a good program but a religion it is not.

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