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OA - info needed

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I know that all lodges can be a little different so just give me some ideas...


my son is elligible this year to be voted in and tapped out for OA. Me being female didn't do boy scouts and don't know anything about OA... my husband didn't do boy scouts either... so we have no info to give him. The boys in our troop don't give lots of details - not sure if it's because they're afraid to say something they shouldn't or not.


having attended summer camp he knows about the ordeal things the boys have to do - camp out alone 1 night, stay quiet for so long, and are limited on food (which I think is one thing he isn't thrilled about)...


but other than that all I know is that they work with a summer camp ground to keep it up and running and do repair on trails etc... and I know they camp as OA 2-3 times a year.


what else is there that might spark his interest in it?


my son loves to camp, loves to do service projects, loves all the scouts has to offer... but he HATES going into things blindly.


thanks in advance

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Here is the Fact Sheet on the OA: http://www.scouting.org/Media/FactSheets/02-512.aspx


The OA has a website: http://www.oa-bsa.org/


There are no secrets in the OA. What we have is mystery. The mystery is supposed to be aimed at making it more appealing to the boys, not hiding information from the parents and other adults.


The OA is Scouting Honor Society. It's intended to bring together those scouts who have best exemplified the principles of scouting, and have them do further service. A big part of the service they do is to their council camp. Several of a lodge's events will be about this. But most lodges now do a lot of community service.


Indian Lore has long been a major part of the OA. But Indian Lore is not the purpose of the OA.


Leadership is also a big part of the OA. The OA gives the chance to boys to be leaders beyond their troop, such as in their lodge or the chapters within the lodge. Some go further to be leaders in their section, region, and even nationally. The OA has further leadership development programs beyond NYLT and NYALE, such as LLD (Lodge Leadership Development) and NLS (National Leadership Seminar).


The OA has sectional events that bring together the lodges within their section (usually about 8 lodges). There are also national events like NOAC (National OA Conference). And the OA has its own service programs at the high adventure bases like OA Trail Crew, Wilderness Voyage (Northern Tier) etc.


You're best bet to get local information is from your lodge and its leadership. Get ahold of the Lodge Advisor (adult) or Lodge Chief (youth). The Lodge should send around election teams who are supposed to explain what the OA is, but if your troop doesn't have a OA Troop Representative, prehaps the lodge needs to send someone earlier to explain things.


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Both my sons are in the OA and they love it. You don't hear a lot about it because there's a sort of "respectful silence" (my interpretation) around it. OA members are (ideally) immersed in service. They do not, however, want to ring their own bells or draw attention to this. Service is done for the sake of service, not for the sake of


If your son is thinking about asking his friends for a nomination, I would strongly encourage him to do so. Once in the OA, if he doesn't like it, he is not required to stay involved. That's what I would tell him -- try it. If you don't like it, stop. But I think from what you describe of your son he'll really like it.


Have your son watch this video:

My kids were really impressed with it. :)



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A potential arrowman should not "ask for a nomination" or campaign for votes. If he wants to be elected, he just needs to be the best scout he knows how to be. And if he's not planning to actively exercise the honor bestowed upon him by his fellow scouts, he should politely decline to be considered.

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I had the same reaction when I was elected into the Order. It was extremely intriguing, but I wanted to know exactly what I was getting myself into. I got my mitts on an old Bronc Burnett novel that features an older inductions ceremony, and annoyed the heck out of my Scoutmaster until he sat me down and told me basically what others have said here.


I would like to amplify something that emb021 stated, about leadership. That wasn't one of the things that attracted me to the OA, but it was certainly what kept me involved. The youth REALLY run the OA program, and the adults, for the most part, keep their mouths shut. All officers are youth. Adults do not have a vote in any lodge or chapter decisions. They advise, share their wisdom, and that's it. Most lodge and chapter officers develop really close relationships with their advisers, and learn a lot. At the lodge level, you can also rub shoulders with some of the top brass at the council, which will give you some very interesting insight into the way things are (plus connections for the future!).


You're also a youth until you're 21, so you can stay involved even beyond the traditional Scouting age.


In my experience, the closest adults get is for the council's scout executive or designee (generally the "lodge staff adviser") to deliver vetos of decisions that go against safety rules or national/council policy.


As far as the food, it's not a fast, and the guides and folks overseeing the inductions process should keep a close eye on candidates to make sure there aren't any medical issues. (Many lodges hold a banquet after it's all over so the candidates can stuff their faces, too.)(This message has been edited by shortridge)

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"ask for nomination" was a poor choice of words. What I meant was more like "be open about showing an interest in the OA" so people will know the interest and perhaps think of nominating.


I also had an incomplete sentence in my previous post... that's what I get for trying to post and do fifteen other things at the same time... one of which was to register my kids online for an OA event coming up this weekend.



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Perhaps more explanation is needed. A scout is not "nominated". The SM is asked by the election team to compile a list of "eligible" scouts, based on Scout Spirit, rank, #of nights camping, etc. It has nothing to do with "desire", however if a scout really does NOT want to be in OA, he can always decline to attend the ordeal. Some do this, however it can be viewed as a huge insult to your troop-mates who have honored you with selection. Then the troop is visited by an election team of OA members, which explains the OA and what the election means. Every scout on the list of eligibles can be elected...or none of them can. To be elected, a scout must have a majority of the votes cast by those casting a ballot. It is not a competition among those eligible. Scouts are to consider each name separately, and, if they feel they are worthy of being chosen (i.e., lives the Scout Oath and Law in daily life, and is an example of "cheerful service"), put a check mark by their name. As I said, they can check ALL the names if they want...or NONE...or any number in between. This is a little different from the OA of OUR youth, where only a certain number could be elected, based on the size of the troop. Is it sometimes a popularity contest? Sure. But in my 30+ years, I have found it rare that the boys make a bad decision.

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You've heard some great responses. OA is an honor society and Arrowman is an excellent title to be bestowed. Here are my thoughts regarding "what else might spark his interest".


There is leadership and service involved. There is camping and sometimes some more high adventure events. Those are the foundations of why we exists. But another selling point the the youth may really be interested in. The things that "spark" their interest, is a fun and social environment.


He may already hang out with friends in the troop. He may make more friends in the OA. He may be invited to staff summer camp. (Summer Camp Staff, after a long day of work enjoy pizza, ice cream socials and video games) He may get to "joke and coke" with the cool 16-17 year olds. Maybe even a few 18-20 year old "college age" ASMs working at Summer Camp.


I would expect, nothing is cooler to a 13 y/o Arrowman, than an 19 y/o acknowledging his presence and playing a video game with him.


If a newly flapped Arrowman just "sash and dash", then he won't get much out of our brotherhood. But if a new Arrowman participates, attends Chapter meetings, serves their troop, and serves their council camps, they will get a kick out of working along side some other really cool Arrowmen.


So bottom line. It is an honor to be elected into the OA. He will provide service to his fellow Scouts, and learn about leadership/followership and himself. But the spark may be in the fun he will have.


Scouting Forever and Venture On!

Crew21 Adv

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Both my boys and I are Arrowmen. I was inducted in back in the 70's when you may have been nominated 2 or 3 years in a roll before being elected in.


Both boys love it. The older one, now 22, became a member late, at 17, but hadn't joined scouting until almost 16. The younger one can't get enough of OA.


Our Chapter Chief is only 14, a big responsibility for a young man.


Our Lodge has three fellowship weekends a year, two Ordeal weekends, plus tapouts at summercamp every week. There are leadership training weekends a couple of times a year at the sectional and national level that are open to all. The National OA Conference is this coming August, 4000-6000 scouts together for a week of learning, games arena shows, etc.


As for High Adventure, he can attend Philmont, Sea Base, or Northern Tier for two weeks, one in service, one having fun, for less then $300 plus transportation. He can apply to National Jamboree staff, and work with other Arrowmen promoting OA, and possibly to international events. This last summer 5000 Arrowmen went to five different national parks and forests to provide a couple of weeks service the the NPS.


The possibilities are endless. It all depends on how active he wants to be, and how far he wants to take it.


Most scouts will do their Ordeal, get their sash and pocket patch, show up at summercamp for the OA ice cream social, and that is the end of their involvement. The ones that stay in become close friends for life.


Good luck to your son. tell him not to be intimidated by the older members. They will welcome him with open arms.



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  • 2 weeks later...

OP, IM-Kathy:


At his age, let him decide for himself. In my book, it kept me active as a scout and meant a lot because we could see we were doing tangible projects that had value.


I would be apprehensive of a boy who (a) didn't much care if he was elected, or (b) pushed himself forward. Either one kinds of destroys the feeling of receiving a genuine honor from your peers.


I liked the OA as a kind of mini-fraternity. It's okay for the older boys to associate with themselves.

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