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Parents attending OA Ceremonies

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I don't think that the rules are at issue.It's the spirit of things.If a parent wants to come as a nonmember so be it.

The parent being told they can't come is wrong.

I just feel that if at all possible it would be nice to maintain the exclusiveness.Attempts to insure this should be done tactfully with the understanding that it is not a matter of them not being allowed just a wish that some traditions be respected.

I think the parent should at least ask their son if he want's them there understanding that it's preferred that it be members only.

If that's done and son agrees then my issues are gone.

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To all, but in response to emb021,

Hey, I didn't mean go round parents up and start setting out to bring them in, I said "who wishes to attend" i.e. they're already wanting to go. And CANNOT be excluded.


SOME parents, to include my spouse, have particular aversion to situations where abuse may occur(it would be one of many reasons why I am involved in Scouting - to ensure her "baby" is not subject to bad situations...), making it difficult for parents to attend or as though one doesn't really want them there heightens those fears the parent may have - whether rational or not. And creates an adversarial relationship with Scouting where it doesn't really need to be...

Once they express the wish to go, I'm saying, explain the necessity to maintain the mystery, ensure they understand that any questions they may have will be answered, and respect that they care about their child's welfare. Ask that they respect the wishes of the organization to protect the mystery - NOT the secrecy because it's NOT a secret. If it were a SECRET, we wouldn't be free to discuss this at all, parents wouldn't be allowed to observe and many Scouts would be denied the opportunity to enter the OA. It's a semantic argument but one I think everyone here should get.

As to the adult who may be selected and have already attended - they may be an parent but they are also an adult - who hopefully can still get the full impact without experiencing it for the first time. Although I also think it probably isn't as good with the preview.

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I hear ya, understand, and agree. While I admit I have discouraged a parent from coming once, okay twice, I did go through everything so that she would feel comfortable. I also mentioned leaders in in her troop who have been or are active in the troop. That hleped ease her fears.


Now that second time, the mom wanted to come, not for concearns of safety, but to see her son and be part of the expereince. Vigil daddy wasn't going to say no to wifey, so safety issues were not a concern. both father and myself didn't want her there b/c 1) it does take a little out of the ceremony and B) there is talk of among the troop's leadership of nominating her in the next 2 years.

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Thanks for everyone's input. I am familiar with the rules set forth in the GSS as well as Youth Protection. Now two days later, here is my take and position.


As a parent I can appreciate the BSA's position that NO part of scouting is secret and off limits to anyone especially parents, nor should it be. In today's world we are under the liberal microscope and the last thing we need to do is add fuel to the comparisons that have already been made between the OA the Free & Accepted Masons and Skull and Bones. If this was an all adult order that would be one thing, but it's not, it's for our sons and parents have a need to know. Period.


Now on the flip side; As I said, I've been in the OA since 1972. NO ONE appreciates the mystery and the anxious anticipation it creates in the eyes of a 13 or 14 year old scout going through his Ordeal as I do. This mystery aspect should be preserved at all cost, for the sake of the youth. Our youth (and adults) should understand and appreciate this and not reveal the details of their ordeal. So what if an adult knows, as long as the details are preserved, an adult should be able to put this into perspective, and not be traumatized by knowing the details.


In our lodge, in have 3 or 4 chapter ceremony teams performing ceremonies at the same time. Our DC arrived and was directed by the LA to our chapters ceremony site. As he approached he was met by an adult brother and told he shouldn't be there. The adult happened to be the immediate past DC. He was also told the same thing by a member of his own troop (which compounded things). I understand there were some words exchanged. Yes as was mentioned I'm sure he knew the rules. Yeah, he raised holy &*%% with the LA, LSA & most likely to the Supreme Chief of the Fire. Was he pushing his weight around; was there a personality conflict; was there attitude (from either party)? I don't know the answer to those question. Before a new thread is spun, I know; the adult should not have been the one initially involved, this should have been a ceremony team and youth issue to handle.


Most all of the responses outlines the best way to handle these situations:


- We DO NOT need to advertise or even mention that parents are allowed. Stay away from it.

- If a parent expresses interest he should be referred to the LA or CA

- Explain the mystery and the importance of this for their sons

- Explain the ordeal and ceremonies and our purpose.

- Allow access to the script if need be.

- If all this fails we have to allow them in.

- If they show up unannounced, explain they must observe from a distance and must not interfere or interrupt.

- Let the youth handle this. (They can do it so darned much better than we can!!) Really...no sarcasm here.

- So what if still pictures are taken, I would have loved to had some of my ceremony. What does it show?; a bunch of Boy Scouts in uniform around a camp fire with 4-6 other Scouts dressed up as Indians. That's all

- Video of the ceremony by non members. I would not allow this if at all possible. If members video the ceremony, that's one thing, make sure your ceremony team gets a copy :).


Enough rambling from me.

Yours In the Brotherhood








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Sweet mercy.


What idiot of a Chapter Adviser did not connect the dots that the District Commissioner was not an Arrowman and move Heaven and Earth to place him in the Order?


As a Scoutmaster is the principal program officer of a Troop, the District Commissioner is the principal program officer for all BSA programs in the District. It is complete and utter foolishness for him or her not to be brought into the Order.


This is solved far, far easier than having a scene at an Ordeal ceremony. This shouldn't have been pole vaulting over mouse turds.


Oh, BTW, as the principal program officer of the District, the DC has every right to see how the Camping Operations Committee (and the last I checked, the Order still falls under the supervision of District and Council Camping Committees) is doing their job. They support him


Someone in this District needs to get off their heavily metallically weighted fourth point of contact and nominate the DC into the Order: That's the one sentence answer.(This message has been edited by John-in-KC)

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Wow. I'm torn on this. John-in-KC is right that the CA and LA should have moved earlier to get the DC into the Lodge to prevent this kind of situation. On the other hand, the way OldSouthScouter described it, I'm not sure I would want that guy as my DC. As DC, he should know enough about not just the rules but the rationale and traditions to be aware he had the right to attend but shouldn't until it was appropriate. Sounds to me like someone on a huge power trip over being the DC and that's definitely not the kind of people we want on Council staff.

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There are enough abuses within our program, parents will quite often be queasy about their son going off to a "confidential" event. Hopefully, the parent will contact someone to discuss attending the Ordeal.


So, cooler heads in your district or council (or National?) will have a prepared "Official" pamphlet that explains the concerns OA has and lists "Guidelines" for non-members attending. This should be done by some adult "Official Leader" who will hand them the pamphlet and be there to explain, answer questions and address concerns. It should also present the Mystery aspect and how non-member parents should not obviously be in attendance.


It should also explain the no photo/video policy which is NOT guaranteed by National. Also, no siblings will be admitted (Be prepared - babysitters); The rule cites parents.


When parents have concerns, we need to be prepared to address and allay them.


Yours in Scouting, yrhmblsrvnt,


Old Thunder Fox

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I ordealed almost exactly 39 years ago. Neillup and Trevorum both know the place, Jubilee Scout Ranch. It belonged to the then San Fernando Valley Council, where Walika #228 held itself.


I may not be able to access the Jumpstart website, now, but I sure as heck have my handbook. In it, one of the key elements is the "no secrets" rules. Clearly incumbent on the Professional Staff Adviser and the Lodge Adviser was the duty to educate non-Arrow pastors, teachers, and yes, parents.


The program is kept mysterious, especially for the youth members, because mystery is something they seek. Anyone with a need should have the opportunity to study our materials.


I've said before: This is a touchy subject with me. Someone once dear to me confronted my Pastor about that as regards EagleSon. Had I not been able to deal with the issue in real time, Matthew 18 church discipline could have been invoked against both him and I. That would have served the sole purpose of removing us from participation in the Order.


Look at each request for access on its merits, and if there's a member of the District Key 3 who is not an Arrowman, fix it.

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I totally agree with John. The DC is really new to his position, ie. after the district elections and nominations took place. He was relatively unknown among most of the district when he was nominated. I and probably others were unaware he was not in the order, until the ordeals. Not sure we would have had time to correct this. I'm also unsure as to him having met the requirements, we should all really hope he does, but...


Again thanks


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District-level nominations can have the camping requirement waived by the Lodge Adviser or the Scout Executive. All other requirements are subjective ("will the person help the OA? kind of stuff"). Meeting the requirements should be a non-issue for any DC.

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gsdad - "How does one get the point of DC and not have already been inducted in the OA?"


Easy answer, he was the only person to agree to do the job. He should of be contacted prior to that night and explained why he legally could attend, but that we did not want him to attend. If he stated then that he would attend, so be it, it is legal.


John-in-KC - "What idiot of a Chapter Adviser did not connect the dots that the District Commissioner was not an Arrowman and move Heaven and Earth to place him in the Order?


All I have to say John-in-KC that the Chapther Advisor may not have been able to do anything. In my current Lodge, District-level nominations and youth elections have to be held between Jan 1 & March 31, no exceptions. Maybe this Lodge has some simular rule.


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In my experience, if it's not health and safety, if it's not BSA Rules and Regulations, the SE (Supreme Chief of the Fire) can waive any operating practice in his Council. IMO, this is one of those times. The lesson for the youth who'd be asking why? Welcome to arbitrary and capricious governmental rule-making. Learn to deal with it, it's part of life.


I don't know about the Fleet, but in Mother Army the current ban on USB thumb drives for hot-swapping data between computers has been a royal pain. We got that ban on 24 hours notice from DA. We just had to deal with it, like it or not.


The LEC are generally older youth, if they've not absorbed this lesson, it's high time they do.

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The problem is in conflicting guidelines:


"The Boy Scouts of America does not recognize any secret organizations as part of its program. All aspects of the Scouting program are open to observation by parents and leaders."



"The Order of the Arrow, recognizing the attractiveness of the unknown, utilizes the form of mystery. This shall not be interpreted, however, as justifying the withholding of any information regarding the Order from any person legitimately interested in investigating its nature, purpose, or method. Nothing in the Order shall be interpreted as interfering with any member's religious obligation. If anyone has questions about this policy, or about the Order of the Arrow, they should contact their local Boy Scout Council or Lodge Adviser."



"The Orders membership requirements have been added to the Handbook along with a rewrite of the section Why ceremonies? on page 30. The new text emphasizes that non-OA members should not attend the ceremonies. The lodge adviser is given a procedure to follow for nonmembers to learn about the ceremonies and for parents to ultimately decide whether they want their son to participate."



My 2007 edition of the Order of the Arrow Handbook has disappeared, so I can't quite the text from tat.


Ed Palmer

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