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Scoutmasters Not Members of OA

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I am a member, but have minimal interaction with the Lodge other than the election and tapout at Camporee.


They show up for election, where I have to remove my just bridged Webelos or none of my Scouts get elected (the newly bridged boys won't vote, and those are counted in the percentages). I try to send an Adult who is qualified as well.


My Scouts have shown ZERO interest in dancing. It is a turnoff for them. They see it as a combination of weird/dorky and a risk of getting in trouble at school. Just Google up this year's my culture is not a costume campaign to see how youth might view dressing up in hollywood costumes and dancing.


They join, they go through Ordeal, and then they never wear the sash again until election and Camporee again. A few MIGHT help out at Ordeal to become Brotherhood.


This is the youth view, which is part of why adults are not interested as well.

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We don't do OA. We do not invite OA to "educate" us. We know what OA is and we choose to not participate.   When I am asked about OA, I simply say, "We don't do OA." I have learned from experien

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, OA ENHANCES a boy's scouting career. It isn't there to take him away from his troop. It isn't there to necessarily provide something to your troop, alth

Okay, as a Scoutmaster I had the huge burden of supporting the OA. I actually had to yield 10 to 20 minutes to a youth at one of our meetings and get this - I actually had to labor away for almost 5

Hmmm... sounds to me that there something more going on here to warrant a 25 year grudge...


We don't feel that we are denying our Scouts access to OA. We are denying agressive OA recruiters access to our Scouts.


Well, fair enough. I personally don't much care for the OA, but at least it sounds like you'll let your Scouts explore the possibility if it's something that they want to do.

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That is a very interesting statistic, but I'm not as surprised as perhaps I should be. I've been a member of the Order of thirty years, and have had the distinct pleasure of belonging to two fantastic lodges, and one not so great lodge ... my current one. Being a longtime member I've seen a great deal of change in the order, some of it good, most not.


When I was a scout the Order of the Arrow was "The Honor Camper Society", and was a program of the camping committee. Somewhere along the line there was a genius idea to restyle the order as scouting's "National Honor Society", and take the program away from the camping committee, and shift the focus out of the camps. The result of these changes, epic failure.


The order is a thing of the outdoors, and is a camp based program, according to the orders founder Dr. Goodman. From the start the orders purpose was to recognize, and encourage good camping skills, while supporting the camp. When i was a youth member Order of the Arrow activities were about fellowship, leadership development, and personal growth; today they come across as frat parties without liquor.


From the very beginning the order was cloaked in mystery, and that has always appealed to youth. Ceremonies were conducted in the solitude of the far reaches of camp property, where new members were welcomed into a "circle of brothers which widened to receive them". Does this resemble the order today? Perhaps if the order looked for like this it would regain its appeal.


Here's another change. Each unit used to have an election quota, based on membership, and only a select few were elected each year. Only those scouts with exceptional camping, and leadership, skills were selected for membership by their peers. Now all eligible scouts are rubber stamped, so much for honoring those who truly stand out.


No one wants to hear another story of how things were back when, but the thing it the Order of the Arrow was strong, and viable, back when. We study history to learn from our mistakes, doesn't that apply here?


Klamachpin Gentgeen


I used to be a Bear ...


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Glad someone thinks similarly to me. Putting some of the restrictions back, along with a bit more mystery could not hurt, as I noted earlier in the thread. But, that is unlikely to occur as long as the adults in higher levels are in charge. My encounters with them at jamboree in 2010 were to say the least, not particularly positive. If there is a higher level "good old boys club" in the BSA, this appeared to be one.


Just my personal view and experience.

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How bout we bring this back to the original question and concern. Which has nothing to do with the Indian culture.


To summarize the OPs original question.


The Lodge is struggling in numbers and participation, and the OP feels that there is a direct correlation between membership numbers/participation and the % of Scoutmasters in the council who are OA members.


I don't think there is a correlation. In fact while it is nice to have SMs involved in the order for obvious reasons. SM are usually not the best choice in the type of adult the OA needs. SMs if they are doing their job correctly are just to busy to have "the ability to perform the necessary functions to help the Order fulfill its purpose"(Guide to Officer and Advisors, 2010, page 21) and its better to have another adult in the unit to help.


The problem I have seen is the way adults are selected. It seems that in most lodges adults are selected more as an award to what they have done. Which causes Sash and Dash Adults.


According to the OA literature the selection of adults should be base on what they can bring to the order. I can't find my Handbook right now but if my memory serves me right it states that one of the main purposes of adults in the order is to ensure that youth can get to events and can fulfill their duties.


It also seems that many lodges have developed their own election forms in which there is a place to add the name of the adult being selected by the unit on the form. Instead of using the official OA forms. I know this is the case in my lodge. Which makes adult selection more of an award or recognition.


I feel that for many lodges the problem with participation and numbers comes down to the selection of adults and how chapters operate. Its the chapter that delivers the OA program at the local level. Its the adults that help the youth deliver that program.


Criteria for selecting adults is as follows, if lodges use this criteria in the selection of adults inducted the lodge will have a much stronger pool of adults. Which in turn will create more participation and higher retention of membership numbers in the youth.


From the top of the adult selection form".


"Selection and induction into the Order of an adult Scouter should take place only when the adult's job in Boy Scouting or Varsity Scouting will make Order of the Arrow membership more meaningful in the lives of the youth membership. It must not be for the purpose of adult recognition."


From the body of the form:


"The following conditions are the basis for candidate selection and MUST be fulfilled to be considered. Make a brief statement regarding the individual for each item.


1. Selection of the adult is based upon ability to perform the necessary functions to help the Order fulfill its purpose, and not for recognition of service, including current or prior achievement and position. The individual's abilities include:


2. This adult will be an asset to the Order because of demonstrated abilities that fulfill the purpose of the Order, in the following manner:


3. The camping requirements that apply for youth candidates apply to adult candidates and must have been fulfilled within the most recent two years prior to recommendation for membership. The requirement, which is a minimum of fifteen days and nights of camping, which must include six days and five nights of resident camping approved and under the auspices and standards of the Boy Scouts of America, was fulfilled as follows:


4. This adult leader's membership will provide a positive role model for the growth and development of the youth members of

the lodge because:"



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I'm an outsider to OA and have only my son's reports to go off of so my views may be off-base, but I am not so sure you need more adults.


My son's perspective: when he did his ordeal and the few times he went to chapter meetings, he said the other youth were fine (mostly) but all the adults were a major pain in the neck. Some felt entitled (one who wouldn't shut up during ordeal, some who went on about how being selected was their due). Others hovered and helicoptered, or tried to run things.


These are the same types of adults who drive a lot of older boys seeking authentic experiences away from scout troops. OA doesn't need that.



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I am no longer a SM, but the last OA election I was involved in as a SM could be described as:


1) The arrowman and OA adult advisor showed up to our meeting late.


2) The arrowman was not in a uniform, it was a high school hoodie and blue jeans. The advisor had a half uniform on.


3) The advisor showed a video telling about OA in the council.


4) The arrowman handed out ballots, collected them and they then left.


This was their experience with the leadership of the honor camping society of our council. They were not impressed. The only qualified boy was elected, he got his ordeal in and became our OA rep. He went to 3 roundtables where the OA was supposed to be meeting the reps. No one ever showed so the boy dropped the whole thing.


I have been a member of the chapter as an adult for over 15 years and have paid my dues ever year and once back in the 1990's I did actually receive one OA newsletter delivered to my home.


I hope there are other chapters out there that do it better than that.



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When I was Scoutmaster circa 1981-1987:


1. It was the custom in my troop for OA members to wear their sashes at Courts of Honor. I don't know if that was officially approved at the time but I think it was a Good Think, recognizing OA members and "waving the flag" so to speak.


2. There was a maximum number of Scouts who could be elected to OA each year, which made it modestly exclusive. That was also a Good Thing in my experience.


3. I was selected as an adult OA nominee, and attended the Ordeal. That exposed me to the OA program and was probably the best possible introduction to OA.


I was too busy, and remain too busy, to do anything else in OA. So I guess I'm a "Sash 'N Dasher." Do you really want to discourage that?



My district has adult and Scouts who have been working manfully to revive OA, with a degree of success.


Personally, I'd lean towards abandoning the feathers and dancing in favor of more relevant themes, but perhaps I just Don't Understand.

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I know this was posted a month ago but I feel this misunderstanding should be addressed:


They show up for election, where I have to remove my just bridged Webelos or none of my Scouts get elected (the newly bridged boys won't vote, and those are counted in the percentages).


There are two different percentages to consider when an election is conducted. First, are at least 50% of registered troop/team members UNDER 21 (yes, this includes ASMs between 18 and 20) present? Second, was a candidate for election voted for on at least 50% of ballots TURNED IN? If a scout declines to turn in a ballot it does not count against those eligible for election. This is different than turning in a blank ballot which is considered a vote against everyone.


Now on to a more recent post...


SeattlePioneer: There was not a maximum # that could be elected that I've ever heard of. The limitation (eliminated in the mid-'90s) was that you could only vote for half of the scouts eligible. I was a youth when the change was made, and contrary to the doomsday predictions, the number of scouts elected (at least in my lodge) did not explode. In fact, it stayed fairly constant. Now, as far as you being considered a "Sash 'N Dasher", don't forget that an Arrowman's first responsibility is to his unit. If as SM you were exemplifying the values of the OA and encouraging your scouts to do the same, then I'd definitely call that being active.

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I don't think a quota would make a difference with our troop. Not all of the boys eligible get elected. If over the past couple of days, you have not helped this year's crossovers adapt to camp, you've lost nearly half your voting block. Cuss and/or prattle on rudely about the gentler sex in front of 2nd year scouts, you've just lost another 20%. That's what I love about elections at camp.


After not getting called out, those boys will approach me, and we have a pretty solid discussion about how to correctly "set the compass" for the following year. I tell them the next time I hear them acting inappropriately, I won't yell. I will simply walk up to them and say "And you wonder why?"


For that reason alone I am grateful for O/A, and the SM's status doesn't matter at all. The rest of us in the troop will keep offering it to the boys. That lightens the SM's burden.


But, authenticity (both in terms of Native American culture and cheerful service) are what makes our chapter worth joining. Keep that up, and you'll maintain interest.


Bringing back secrecy and rough-and-tumble stuff does our boy's interest. That's just hiding a light under a bushel. How are you going to get your non-O/A SM to appreciate the program if he feels excluded from a ceremony?


Bringing "the honor camping society" back into use may help with vision. Certainly a lot of boys are interested in a venturing crew if it's activities are "above and beyond" the troop's. Can't hurt for O/A.

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A couple similar threads going on now about OA, I'll just respond to this one. As a former SM I was initially open to OA. Our troop has some logistical difficulties about it but I was open.


I never got to the issues of diappointment at OA not showing up for elections as we never got that far so fr that I can't relate personal experience.


One good point earlier on is OA is yet another Scout related voice reaching out for the SM's attention.


Note, it is always OA reaching out to units trying to get them involved, we hear very little about units trying to reach OA, we also hear a lot about Sash n dash problem. What this spells out is the OA's main problem....they don't offer much of anything to attract folks into it and many who try it drop it when they find there is little reqson to be in it. A lot of what I heard as a SM was the cliches about it being the honor society and the "opportunities it offered" but they were empty promises.


We have an active camping program, OA offered a bunch of "parties" a work day or two and some trips out of state at considerable expense to do things the scouts had no interest in.


To me they offered no reason to get involved, another distraction, so we took an "we don't do OA" attitude.


The Indian dancing was the clincher, the boys have Less than zero interest, wouldn't be caught dead being involved in it, I'd have better success getting them to cut out paper dresses for dolls than get involved with OA dancing.

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It pains me to see that so many adult leaders take away an amazing opportunity from the scouts in their

troop. I'm not interested in trying to persuade you that the OA is a good program, or that everybody needs to

be active in it. But when I look at the amount of friends that I have met through the OA, I realize that it

has made a huge impact on my life. Over the past few years, I have spent more time with friends I made in the OA than with friends I made in school. They are scouts like me, and the fact that they have been chosen to

represent their troop to the OA and the fact that they have chosen to become active in it instantly made it easy to connect with them, as they showed the same level of interest in scouting as I do. The OA opened me up to friends of all ages. As a 15 year old, I would be hanging out with kids on their weekends home from college. When we get together, the ages range from 14 to 26. The opportunity to connect with scouts outside of your own troop is an invaluable experiance, and it should not be denied to any scout because of the prejudice of adult leaders. The OA is not about feathers and dancing, it is not about service, it is not about troop elections, it is about brotherhood. The rest just comes naturally.

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