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great, he is in OA - now what?

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Let me start by saying I'm not in OA, but my son recently went through his Ordeal. Also, in my area, OA has not been very active or visible in recent years and my son's troop hasn't had any active OA members for the entire time he's been involved with boy scouts (going on 6 years). There have been a couple of ordeal members who wear the flap, but nobody who has been active beyond that. Some years, they didn't even have elections.


What I want to know is, what does "good" really look like in an OA lodge or chapter? What could a young man expect to actually DO, as part of OA, that might sustain his interest in scouting when the troop has become less of a draw? I get the notion of "cheerful service" but that's in the abstract.


In the 10 years that I've been involved in scouting in my area, I've only seen OA do the following (and I hope there's more to it):


1) car parking fundraisers at sporting events (the money apparently goes back to the OA - not sure what they use it for)

2) call outs at the spring council camporee

3) work weekends (2 or 3 a year at one of the council camps)


Not that any of these are bad, but if that's it, I don't see how it holds the interest of very many boys. I don't think we have a dance team or anything like that - or if so, I've never seen or heard of it, and I've been pretty active in local scouting beyond the confines of "my" unit(s). What else is there?


By the way - my son went through his ordeal in June, and then to jambo in July/August. He mentioned that there were OA folks doing all sorts of things at jambo. That left a very positive impression of OA in his mind. Good job, to all who were there!

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A good lodge or chapter should also be involved in program beyond its own borders, including ...


- Serving as instructors or organizers at council or district events.

- Taking charge of the council's camp promotions activities - conducting unit visits, creating brochures, shooting a video.

- Staffing summer camp and Cub Scout day camp.


There's also a lot that goes on behind the scenes. Your son could get involved in unit elections and ceremonies, assist with the inductions process as a guide, help as a service project leader. One of the fringe benefits is meeting people beyond your troop and district.


Perhaps unfortunately, some lodges tend to focus more on the inductions and ceremonial side of things. That's all well and good - we wouldn't have an Order without that element - but the OA doesn't simply exist to perpetuate itself. Visibility is absolutely essential, and visibility through program is the absolute best way to achieve that.


The OA, along with staffing summer camp, kept me interested and focused on Scouting at a time when others dropped out of my troop. The greatest thing about it, in my mind, was and is that youth really, truly do run the show. Adults have no vote. They advise, they offer suggestions, they serve, but both the macro and micro decisions are made by the youth. I started out as an elangomat (inductions guide), got into unit elections, served as chapter chief and moved up to elected positions at the lodge level, where I was working with the camp rangers to organize and lead service projects for 150+ people. It gave me leadership and organizational experience on a large scale that wouldn't have been possible in the confines of my small troop.

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OA is only limited by the resources and imagination of its members, oh and G2SS too. ;) I've been in chapters in name only, and I've been in good chapters. Here's my list of some of the things a good chapter, whcich covers a district, do


Does Cheerful Service: makes sure members have transpo to lodge OA Ordeals and work weekends as well as conducts their own chapter workdays and/or service projects.


Promotes Camping: orignially promoting to Boy Scouts, but there isnow a push natiopnally to get OA involved with CS camping, which I'm all for as CS do become BS ( plus I'm a CSDL this year ;) )


Gets involved in Scouting events at the district and council level. they serve ons taff and help out where needed


Dance and/or Ceremony Teams seen at various functins, i.e. CS Family Campouts, district camporees, banquets etc.


HAS FUN! make sure members got to Lodge fall fellowship, have oppotuntiy to go to a conclave and NOAC,a nd does chapter fellowships, socials, or trips.


BUT ALWAYS REMEMBER AN ARROWMAN'S FIRST RESPONSIBILITY IS TO HIS UNIT! (caps for emphasis as some Arrowmen, sometimes forget this [me included)



(This message has been edited by eagle92)

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My beliefs are.


For the past 3-4 years there is now a check list for Quality Lodge. Usually membership and work. The lodge and chapters should make this an annual goal.


Shortridge and Eagle92 gave good examples of service. There are always many more service jobs for Arrowmen to do.


I would say a good Lodge and Chapter would have a mixture of work and fun. A few hours of sweat and dirt, along with a few hours of video games and Mountain Dew (or whatever "sugar water" flavor of the day).


The Arrowmen should do some work for the local camp, and some high profile service projects. But it should also be a fun club to belong to. Arrowmen should want to belong and Scouts should desire to become First Class and be worthy of election.


What kinda fun. They do this by staying up later on the first night of Camporee. Getting the Ice Cream social at 10p.m. while all the other Scouts are heading to their tents. Getting the video game room, after a long day of serving at the winter camp. Various ideas similar to this, where the Arrowmen serve but also have fun.


I don't want to say they should be elitist. There should not be an "in your face" attitude. But Arrowmen should work a little bit more harder than the next Scout and also have more fun, that sets them apart.



Scouting Forever and Venture On!

Crew21 Adv



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Thanks for the input so far (would love to have more!). My son just discovered that OA folks can attend the various national high adventure programs for pennies (like, under $200 for 2 weeks!), which also caused his ears to perk up. Of course, it sounds like they work pretty hard in those two weeks, but he isn't immune to hard work and it makes access to those programs actually affordable. I'll share your responses with him so he has a better idea of what he can do, locally, to stay involved and serve others in scouting.



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Oh yeah can they go for pennies on the dollar, wish OA Trail Crew was a round when I could have taken advantage of it. ;) They work hard, play hard, and i've been told by a VERY reliable source that OATC is taken very good care of at Philmont. Don't knwo about the other HABs, but one of the folks I know has been involved with OATC since its creation and has stated that the staff take care of OATC participants like they are fellow staff members.


Crew commented that OA needs to be a mix of work and play. I can attest to that. The chapter I was in was all work and no play, and we were suffering. We started doing more fun activities, i.e. Pool Party Christmas Party, day trips, etc, and was able to rearrange a district activity, that was also a fundraiser for the chapter, to a different date so that Arrowmen could go to Conclave.


Yes we play hard, but we also do a lot of cheerful servic staffing events, doing a chapter workday at the local camp, etc.

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There is a LOT of possibilities/potentials in the OA.


In many cases, what is available to Arrowmen in your local lodge will depend on the drive of those arrowmen to seek them out, AND the leadership of the local lodge (both youth & adults).


Some lodges are great, running well rounded programs. Other lodges are, lets be honest, pretty cr*ppy, having poor programs and poor reputations.


A good leadership team will work to ensure that Lodge & Chapter programs are a good balance of fun and work. And work should be a good balance between doing work at camp, doing work to support scouting events, and doing work in the greater community.


Lodges should have about 4 events a year, again a mix work & fun (some events may be predominatly work, but some fun, others the opposite).


Chapters should have chapter meetings that have a program that gives the arrowmen (ie the youth) a reason to come, AND consider having a few (a few mind you) of their own events, again both fun & work.


Also, Arrowmen should be made aware of other opportunities outside their lodge. This can include Section Events (annual conclave or conference), Regional training events such as National Leadership Seminars, National events such as the OA service corps at the high adventure bases, NOAC, and SummitCorp & Indian Summer in 2011.


Arrowmen should ALSO work to get involved in some way in their lodge in an area that interests them. This could be ceremonies, this could be indian lore, this could be service, this could be elangomat/niamat, this could be cooking corps, or whatever else there is in the lodge.


Hopefully your lodge does work to help the arrowmen find their 'niche' in the lodge and can be successful and involved.


hope that helps.

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No doubt about the OATC at Philmont. My friend's Facebook status is currently set to "after 260 miles of trail hiked, maybe a 1,000 ft of trail built, 3 rockwalls, 30 participants, 2 ukuleles, 100's of cups of coffee, and 20 peaks, I still can't grow a beard . . ." He's 22 or 23 now, and not sure if he actually went as staff or not, but he does the OATC most every summer these days.

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Great replies so far.


A good chapter/lodge:


- Has service projects they select to do. These might be at the Scout Camp, they might be in town.


- Develops the Thespians they need for Ceremony Team.


- Has some fun stuff, as others have mentioned.


- Encourages young men to serve as Staff at the Council camps.


- Sends young men on OA Trail Crew ... or Jamboree support crew. A good friend of mine, who is a Regional Associate Adviser, had a crew with him for 4 weeks at AP Hill, helping with set-up, check-in, and event operations. I believe they got a significant discount in return. Emb, what have you heard?



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So I've kind of held off in my response for a bit, but I'm going to give it now. One of the biggest things that comes to mind when I think of the OA is the old adage "work hard, play hard."


Indeed, there is plenty of service involved, as that is what it is really all about. Serving others is the premise of the OA (I almost quoted a ceremonies line here, lol). I know here in my lodge, we have at least three weekends of service at the local camp, we have our yearly One Day of Service, which is a day of service to the community, ArrowCorps (which luckily, one of those locations is within our council, and we are heavily involved), and several chapter projects throughout the year. We've often done things like taking charge of the Cub Scouts program for a council camporee as well. The last part of this is our special projects. We've done fundraising and construction of certain specific things for the council as well. Both additions to our dining hall, the handicap fishing platform, two campsites, all have had the bill footed for them, and the service to build them, by the OA at Camp Shenandoah.


Aside from the service aspect though, it allows the Arrowman to interact with others like him. Often, a Scout in a troop will mostly have interaction with those in his troop. At district/council camping events, he may talk to a few other Scouts that are there, but it's not as in depth. When it comes to the OA, you are interacting with other Scouts from all over the district and council on a regular basis. It helps you network more with your fellow Arrowman, often older Scouts who are committed to Scouting like he is. This, to me, is one of the greatest retention aspects of the OA. An older Scout in a troop can get stuck in a rut, this is something new.


There are the fun events. The section conclave is an absolute blast. Scouts from all over your section (which, not knowing where you are, I do not know what region that includes)come together for some training sessions (one of my favorites we have is "How to pick up a girl in a Scout uniform"), competitions, and general fun. NOAC is the same, though on the national level and held every two years. Absolutely wonderful time to meet fellow Arrowmen from across the country that, to me, is a bit more fun than Jambo. The numbers are lower, but I've met more at NOAC than Jambo hands down. There are other events we've been having lately, like Indian Summer and such, that offset the funky schedule created by the centennial celebrations of the BSA and the OA (which will be in 2015).


We promote camping like no other. We do a yearly push that our lodge calls CP/UE. This is Camping Promotion and Unit Elections. When we go around to do unit elections, we often talk with the troop about the local Scout camp, we discuss different camping opportunities in the area, and encourage Scout troops to utilize these as much as possible.


The extra training is awesome as well. Not just what is offered at the Conclave, NOAC or Indian Summer and such, but most lodges hold their own Leadership Development Conference. It helps add to what has already been taught. The pinnacle of it, though, is National Leadership Seminar. This is a lot like Wood Badge, but available to youth. The lessons learned that weekend will stick with an Arrowman through life. I've had classes on management and leadership as I'm a business major, and the stuff taught at NLS is always brought up in these classes. It is often seen as one of the premier leadership training courses in the BSA.


And lastly, leadership itself. The OA provides further opportunities for leadership for the youth. As a youth in the Boy Scouts, if interested, he will most likely serve as an officer in the chapter or lodge, possibly even the Lodge Chief. As Lodge Chief, you often serve on the executive Board of the Council, and are responsible for the OA program in the entire lodge/council. About the time a Scout reaches college age, they will be looking at Section office, which can lead to being a Regional or National officer even.


Anyway, I know I've thrown out a lot of stuff here, and most likely stuff that some people have already said, and some that some may not agree with. As an Arrowman who jumped in excitedly right away, these are just my experiences. I left out the high adventure stuff and the Service Corps as we've already talked about those fairly well. I just wanted to elaborate on everything else a bit more.(This message has been edited by VigilEagle04)

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I'll add to what the others have said here. The order should be a 50-50 mix of service and fellowship. I was fortunate enough to be inducted in the order 20 years ago into a lodge that operates like a well oiled machine. We didn't have a chapter system and the lodge was run by a well distributed mix of youth spread throughout the council. It was a wonderful chance to develop friends throughout the council. The advisers were also involved and did a great job keeping things on track. The lodge had three Conclaves a year, one in the spring, one in the fall and one in the winter. Our Ordeals were held in the summer and a Lodge Banquet in March. In September the youth leadership would set the themes for each of the conclaves for the year (Everything from the serious to the ridiculous...including things like 70's weekend, Hippy Weekend, Boot Camp Weekend, Fruit Weekend, Generic Weekend, Midieval Weekend, Lost in Space Weekend, Mountain Man Weekend, etc). When it came to themes, the only limit was the imagination of the Lodge Executive Committee. These weekends were half service - half fun.


The Activities committee would generally prepare something to do on Friday night keeping brothers engaged as they arrived. Saturday AM was always about Service. The lodge would perform a variety of activities for the council's camp. It could involve cutting wood, taking up platforms in campsites, building new platforms, digging post holes, repairing things, etc. If the weather wasn't particularly cooperative (like in the winter) we'd do work to prep for the next summer's ordeals and work on the interior of buildings. The afternoon's were always about fun, brotherhood, cheerfulness. There would be games, activities and things to do that were in line with the theme of the weekend. In many instances the meals were centered around the theme as well. It wasn't uncommon for many of the adults to continue to perform service throughout the afternoon as well. The Lodge Business meetings were held at dinner on Saturday. Saturday evenings were about ceremonies and occasionally at the late evening crackerbarrel you'd have other social activities.


The nice thing about this is the consistency of the program. This structure has been in place, with little variation, for nearly 40 years. Regardless of the youth involved it helps to ensure the framework for a successful program and ensures collaboration and engagement of youth so they can get more people from their home units involved in other ad hoc service activities and lodge events (Section Conclaves, Cub Scout Camping, Lodge Committees, etc.)


If your son's chapter is deficient, I'd encourage him to get involved as best he can and as an adult, see if there's anything you can do to influence the structure of the chapter to develop a stronger framework for the youth to leverage. If something isn't appealing, have your son deep dive into the problem. Have him think about and brainstorm ways to improve it. Have him engage the chapter leadership and adviser and actively get involved.


If the Boy Scout program taught me leadership skills, my Lodge was the platform by which I had the opportunity to fully utilize and exhibit them, as a committee chair and as a brother. Based on your description Lisa, it may be that the best leadership and service your son may be able to provide is the laying of a foundation of a strong Chapter that other youth may be able to take advantage of.

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