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Changing the Order

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Lately there has been alot of topics made about, greivnces with the order, problems with arrowmen and the like. I think it is clear to everyone that the order is but a shadow of its former self. Membership is declining, it seems like the integrity of the order as a whole is in a free fall. not just here or there either, but all over the country.


So the question is, what needs to happen to make the Order of the Arrow more than just a patch on the uniform and a sash that is only worn once or twice. What needs to happen. From the very top of the national level, down to the individual chapters to make to improve the order. What changes need to happen to solve the issues we are facing.


This is a chance to discuss everything. From the way unit elections are done to the the high advanture programs are promoted. Everything to elangomats to the medium the order uses (the native american styled ceremonies) to the type of regailia used. Maybe not anything that is safeguarded, because well, this is the internet.


What works, what does not work, and what needs to change.

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Here are my thoughts.


1) Bring back the more restrictive, pre-1990s election procedures. Back in the day, it was the 'creme de la creme" getting elected as you could only vote for 1/2 the eligible Scouts. It really forced folks to think who were the best.


Now did it cause some challenges, absolutely. It took 3 elections before I was voted in. First election wasn't bad as the folks nominated were outstanding. Heck I didn't even vote for myself as there were two others more worthy, and I was the brand new First Class Scout who barely made the rank requirements.


But the second election did cause some hurt feelings as a bunch of new scouts came into the troop who only knew their Den Chief, and he was an older brother. And there were enough new members to give him the election. But it was an educational expereince and in retrospect a good one.


Third time was the charm ;)


2) Bring back the standards of the Ordeals of the past. I've seen folks get into the OA who talked almost non-stop. I also heard of one Ordeal where an entire group of cadidates stopped working, but still got in b/c the lodge didn't haev the authority to send someone home, or at least that is what the LA told me. Glad I missed that Ordeal.


3) OA needs better promotion. I've discussed that one at length in other posts, esp in rebuilding a chapter.


4)I think ceremonialists need to get their act together. I am seeing to many teams that just go through the motions, and not putting any life into the ceremonies.

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1. Too many scouts being elected. We have a large troop, and we had 8 members elected. Way too many. I would myself would have only voted for 3 or 4 of them. More of the "everybody wins, nobody's a loser" mentality.


2. Better ceremonies. If you are going to be on the ceremonial team MEMORIZE YOUR LINES. The last ordeal I saw one of the Indians had all of his speeches written out on his hands and arms! Another was reading off a cheat sheet taped to the back of a shield. Not very impressive.


3. Go back to "tap out" ceremonies. Not just calling the names of the ordeal candidates. It was always suspenseful and impressive for the young scouts to see.

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Just a comment.


Make it worthwhile. OA is competing for time, funds and committment with Boy Scouts, sports, job, school, etc. If the OA has nothing to give, it is pushed into the background.


OA seems to me to be competing with the troop--for time, resources, etc. Make it a true service organization, like NJHS or NHS, etc. Make it worth something, besides just another troop. If you are going to have the OA meaningful, make service a requirement for continued membership. Currently, it is a nothing, and, in my opinion, as many know, is faulty in many areas, but not to hijack the thread,--OA needs to show value, which it does not besides a line on a resume. Make it meaningful to those whose life is not singularly focused on scouts, but have other interests, like sports, jobs, school, girls, etc. Maybe you get out of the overwhelming desire for "secrecy" bs, and into the modern century, and you would see an increase of attendance, etc.

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I often get confused as to which comes first. OA as an honor society or OA as a brotherhood of cheerful service. It's clear OA is more about ceremonials then activities. But is that bad?


- How about an OA only event at summer camp? Say the normal bed time is 10pm. At that time, OA members silently leave camp and head to a special issolated camp fire program only for them. Of course with treats, fun and other perks to make it special.

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Problem is you have some youth who are not challenged by their troops, but are challenged by the OA. Ditto with some young adults.


I know in my case, when I turned 18, I joined Sea Scouts for a challenge, and was disappointed. Yes it was fun, but something was missing. I rejoined the OA after summer camp and went to conclave, and the thing the OA supplied that missing challenge that Sea Scouts didn't. And since the unit is the focus of the OA, it refocused my attentions on the unit.


In regards to ceremonies, they have their place. but the focus needs to be on cheerful service.


As for resume lines, depending upon what you do the OA could be a resume builder. There is a difference between being a member and doing little to nothing, and being a committee chair with XYZ responsibilities.

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I have to second Eagle92's response, particularly numbers 1 and 2 and Eagle90's number 3 - way too open in terms of who gets elected. I suspect in some troops its almost automatic; as soon as you hit First Class and have done the camping requirements, you're automatically "elegible" as a Candidate. Definitely need to get back to the "creme de la creme" as it were!!


I do agree with the memorization of lines and putting life into the ceremonies, however, if a Ceremonial Team is relatively new, I have no problem with the "cheat sheets" on the back of a feather fan, shield, or whatever so long as said cheat sheets are not read from as a book (i.e. try not to make it too obvious).


Rules need to be much stricter with Ordeal - if you come to an Ordeal and you don't have the proper equipment, too bad, so sad, see you next Ordeal opportunity. If people in clans are talking (and it's not an emergency of some sort) - send them home! BUT....that would obviously need to be made crystal clear to both Candidate and parent(s), i.e. if rules are broken, expect a phone call to pick your son up.


The above paragraph said though, if just the creme de la creme were elected as Candidates, you probably would not have these issues to begin with.


In my neck of the woods we do have an OA day at summer camp, but it's just one day and really not enough about the OA is promoted. I like the idea of a separate campfire after normal 'taps'.


I do not have a problem with using the NA imagery, providing it's done correctly and with respect and adequate research into the culture you are depicting. Don't just throw on a pair of moccasins, leggings and a ribbon shirt and think you're 'good to go'.


It does need to be made into more of a service organization - we do a lot of service in my chapter, but I think it could be more involved. We're fortunate to have both a Cub scout resident camp as well as a Scout camp where I live - most of the time, den chiefs serve as 'help' for the Cub Scout packs during resident camp, but perhaps each pack should also be assigned an Arrowman to better assist teh packs and promote camping. They could also have one evening of a drum and dance demo. I'm sure there are hundreds of ideas on how to improve the service aspect, but I'm not sure that will happen until the "sash and dash" crown gets weeded out by going back to electing scouts who more than just meet a few 'technical requirements".


Just my quick 2d worth!



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Great ideas.....


Just a couple of thoughts:


1. OA should revert back to "honor campers" rather than current "honor society." If outing is really what scouting is all about, then the best campers should be the candidates for OA. "Honor society" is too vague and rather lame.


2. Make the ordeal an actual ordeal. Not a death march, but mentally and physically challenging so that when new members don the sash for the first time, they really appreciate what it took to get there.


3. Refocus back to cheerful service.

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I like what Desertrat and E92 both said.


Since I'm a former youth member from the era of the 1965 OAHB, I can say that.


Oh: Yes, bring back the TAPOUT.


Oh: Revisit the guidance on who may attend the actual ceremony. Leverage the access to information through the Staff Adviser. Get rid of the non-members. That said, a professional and an adult, not members of the Adviser team, should provide independent oversight of Ordeals to the Supreme Chief of the Fire.

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John-in-KC, I'm from that time as well, back to 1963. You're dreaming of past glory. It's over and it's never coming back. People have different lives now and there's nothing about life today that would encourage or allow it to return to like it was.

We ought to salute over that grave and move on.

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See my post in I&P, on Party of No. I'm at the point in my life where I can be a complete and utter cynic.


You're seeing the remnants of my youthful idealism. :)


Of course, it'll take someone remembering what Goodman really meant to do when he created the Order to bring it back, so you're probably right :(

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