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Building A New OA Program

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All too true, I suppose.



Suppose the Scouts and adult leaders in a district or council decided to abandon the old formula and adopt a new one.


Is there anything that would prevent them from doing so? If not, what would such a new program look like?

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I'll provide an example of what a new OA program might look like --- retaining the theme of "Honor Campers."



My council used to have an annual program on Dutch Oven cooking, a long one day program aimed at teaching adults how to do Duth Oven cooking.


The teachers were adults from different Scout Troops, showing off their methods and recipes.


It was an excellent program that continued for several years but was abandoned circa 2006 or so.


Suppose an OA chapter decided to do such a program, aimed at improving cooking by troops?



Just throwing out an example.



How about an OA overnight camp aimed at Webelos Scouts to introduce Webelos dens and leaders to Boy Scout style camping and working on Webelos skills?








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Gee, there are a lot of things the OA does.


Whether YOUR lodge does them, is another thing.


Lodges I am aware of do:


* Scoutreach mentoring events to introduce Scouting to disadvantaged youth in the area.


* Do service in their council camps BEYOND just setup/take down for summer camp. These can include construction projects, clearing/maintenance of camp trails, building/expansion of ceremonial rings/campfire rings (sometimes including stages and sound systems), etc.


* Camp promotion for high adventure, council camps and more that can include "Where to Go Camping" books or on-line resources.


* Service work within the council and community.


* Staffing council events such as camporees, scout shows, etc.


* Fundraising for council and camperships to send kids to summer camp.


* Leadership development for youth leaders beyond NYLT/NAYLE.


Frankly, in many councils if the OA disappeared it would be a TREMENDOUS LOSE for those councils.


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emb021 is right the OA does a lot for some councils/districts. I will admit though sometimes the OA gets a little to caught up in tradition and wont always accept new things, but a new program would be dificult to create.

There is no way of preventing them from creating a new program but the only person who can disolve the OA is the Supreme Chief of the Fire. I think that a new program would look very similar to the OA structure just without all the ceremonies and indian stuff. You would have to outline its purpose, is it service oriented or scout skills, or some other method?

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Rather than a new OA; "the Old OA". Return to the days when elections "were" an honor, and not simply an expected perk of making First Class. That would not be too hard; simply reinstate the older election requirements, perhaps with a few adjustments to the newer program. Personally, I would prefer to have optional adult requirements that "could" recognize adults who support the core camping in troops by being on most outings, and becoming trained in high adventure and outdoor elements, as well as Trail Boss and such, even if they are unable to spend a full week with a unit in the summer due to family or work responsibilities. Finally, make the Ordeal meaningful again in some way, including returning some control on candidates that simply refuse to adhere to the challenges during the 24 hours or so. They mean nothing if there is no accountability to NOT meeting them. The ridiculous idea that you cannot still do these things without hazing or something is just that, ridiculous.


But, what do I know; I am old and out of touch?

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Agree with Emb, what a lodge does, and does not do, vary. My lodge is very active in the upkeep of the council's camps. This year esp. since we had severe damage at two of the camps, which still are not 100% repaired. We also raise a good bit of money to send Boy Scouts to summer camp. Also several of our members were influential in establishing OA Trail Crew at Philmont.


Another lodge I was in was big into Native American culture, and had members assist with a local tribe in their efforts for the US government to honor their treaty obligations and recognition them.

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So suppose a chapter or lodge decided to dispense with Indian lore, feathers, dancing and such.


Is there any reason they couldn't do so if they wished?


If others wanted to dance or whatever, you would watch respectfully but just not participate.



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Not every lodge dances and drums - mine didn't. Ceremonies were a means to an end. The end was service. Everyone who came back after their induction understood that.


But making national generalizations based upon one local lodge is a bit silly.

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I think these words from the E. Urner Goodman are apt: (OA Handbook, 1977, quoted at wiki)


"The Order of the Arrow is a 'thing of the spirit' rather than of mechanics. Organization, operational procedure, and paraphernalia are necessary in any large and growing movement, but they are not what count in the end. The things of the spirit count:


Brotherhood in a day when there is too much hatred at home and abroad.

Cheerfulness in a day when the pessimists have the floor.

Service in a day when millions are interested only in getting or grasping rather than giving.


These are of the spirit, blessed of God, the great Divine Spirit."

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It would appear that those who would like to build a new OA program have a goodly degree of freedom to do so.


You could get involved at the district level and promote the abandonment of the Indian theme and adopt new activities that would be more interesting to Scouts and perhaps of more value to Scouting. Organizing a Webelos program for new Webelos Dens and leaders might be an example of that kind of program ---just to throw out one possibility.


Webelos Scouts who are served by Den Chiefs tend to become Boy Scouts. Webelos Scouts who are served by an OA program might well remember that too.


Our district OA leader has brought OA back from inactive to a functioning program over several years. He wants to move to a council level position but has no one to take his place.


Personally, I'm not interested in the Indian theme and dancing, but I'd at least consider working with OA on other projects that seem useful and valuable to me --- an example being a Webelos kind of project.


I don't know how committed OA Scouts are to the Indian theme. I suspect that is an adult and tradition driven thing in a good many cases.(This message has been edited by seattlepioneer)

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but I am under the impression that each Lodge is pretty autonomous anyway. Why haven't they made changes that they think will benefit their lodge?


The lodge I am associated with does very little if anything. Getting on the mailing list for the newsletter is more difficult than the Ordeal.


If the lodge has become ineffective, then maybe they ought to figure out how to get it fixed. The only thing that is stopping them is the phrase, "We've never done it that way before!"



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"So suppose a chapter or lodge decided to dispense with Indian lore, feathers, dancing and such."


Not sure what you mean by that.


The OA is NOT and never has been an 'indian lore' organization.


Indian lore plays a big part in it, many people in the OA get involved in that, but not everyone does, nor does anyone get made to feel they need to.


Those who want to get into do so.


Those that don't, don't. There is the server, leadership development, camping promotion and other elements of the OA you can get into, in addition to the Indian Lore stuff (or instead of).


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Just another idea to consider---



One frequent objection by Scoutmasters is that OA takes Scouts out of their troop program.


Perhaps OA leaders might consider programs that would take OA back into Scout troops for other purposes than doing recruiting for OA.


If OA was visibly serving Scout Troops, I suspect that more Scouts would participate and fewer Scoutmasters would object to elections and the OA program.


Just to throw out possibilities--- suppose OA organized a Dutch Oven cooking event at Camporee, or an attractive community service project at which all troops and Scouts were invited to participate? Could be a Saturday or evening activity to help new Scouts earn part of the Scout, Tenderfoot or Second Class awards.


Lots of things might be possibilities. A good many Scoutmasters might welcome a quality outing or activity for troops that they didn't have to organize.

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Seattle, as many have pointed out in this thread and past ones, each OA lodge and chapter is different. Just because you don't see OA chapters and lodges doing unique program things in your corner of the Pacific Northwest doesn't mean they're not doing those things in other places around the country. In fact, they are, and more.


The "Indian theme," as you put it, does not exclude or prohibit OA members from doing other activities and programs. Or do you really think that every person who wears a sash goes off to an OA weekend, strips down into breeches and feathers, and walks around spouting ceremonial lines to each other until Sunday morning? The ceremonial aspects help provide a sense of intrigue and mystery and a structure for organization, but they are just the outward trappings, not an end unto themselves.


There is a whole heck of a lot that even a poor OA lodge does behind the scenes that is still valuable, even if you don't know about it ... setting up camp, clearing and marking trails, building benches, installing fencing, giving latrines a deep scrubbing ... in many councils, they do a good deal of the work necessary to get the summer camps ready for business. Don't dismiss that just because you see no immediate benefit in your current job.


The key to a strong OA program on the district/chapter level, in my experience, is integration. The OA chapter chief and adviser should be sitting in at Roundtable meetings and sharing what they're doing, getting ideas for new events and offering to help. Has your district leadership made them welcome?

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