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When did brotherhood become a "give-me."

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I recently went for Brotherhood after getting back into my lodge after 2 years away. I made a commitment to be more active and give back to the program I enjoyed so much as a youth. I studied my handbook and went back through jump-start. I made flash cards about the Ordeal ceremony's meanings and the OA's history. I thought i was prepared about a month out of our 2nd Ordeal and sent my $15 in for the Brotherhood fee.

I arrived for Brotherhood at appropriate time and was asked where my walking stick was? Didn't know it was needed, so i just grabbed a stick from the woods as did everyone else who showed up. 28 of us were there. We were told to carve our initials in the stick. ( Good thing most of us had knives.) We then then lined up and was asked individually for the Admonition. Me first, No problem! I've been reciting this stuff like Bible versus. Next guy " I don't know." Next guy " I do hereby promise..", I'm thinking, are you serious?

Now it's time for Brotherhood walk. We went to staged areas along hiking trail. Completed a connect the dots worksheet on the Ordeal principals. Then to a share your favorite Scout memory. Then everyone circle up and sing the song. Recite the Oath. Here is the symbol. I was feeling kind of disappointed honestly. But not as cheated as being given a "pre-filled out" letter to the Chief that i signed my name to and checked some boxes. I genuinely had thought about my letter for a month now. I had wrote rough drafts and up until an hour before sat in my tent writing down my thoughts of the Scouting program and how I could help the organization.

We all completed the Brotherhood walk and finished it of with the presentation ceremony. I was happy..but I felt cheated.

Most disturbing was after. A member stated to another " all we need is 15 more and we will be at 30% ". Was this done to meet some quota?

Am I wrong to think this should not be a "you pay, you pass" thing?


Bring on the heat!

- Tim

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I hate to say it, but probably when Brotherhood Conversion became a requirement for Honor/Quality/JTE Lodge.


I know there are different ways of doing the testing.


Some do a normal school test, grade it, and then work with you on the answers. That's how mine was.


Others do a discussion type questioning. Brotherhood candidate talks to a Nimat about the different things he is suppose to know and works with them. Then off to the Brotherhood Hike later in the day.


I like this method as it's more personal, friendly, and allows a Brotherhood candidate to explain things. Some of the terms can be difficult.


An still others do the questioning on the Brotherhood Hike in addition to the reflections done on the hike.


I admit I've only done 1 Brotherhood Hike since it has come out, I've been busy as an elangomat or with the chapter. And I think only the reflection questions should be asked on the hike.


My advice, talk to the youth in charge and discuss this with them. and if that doesn't work, move to the adviser.



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The Brotherhood Hike is something that a lodge came up with and now national is promoting its use. I'm fortunate in that I met one of the guys working on it and improving it. Again the goal is have a series of reflection questions and see how the Arrowman can improve himself and live the Obligation.


It's not meant to be a replacement for the testing.

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Timuquan has done the one-on-one Brotherhood counseling for more than 10 years. A Brotherhood member sits with the candidate until they are satisfied that they understand the material. I have seen them sit for an hour and then send the candidtae off for some homework. Eventually everyone passes because each candidate has a personal coach. We also use the Brotherhood hike as the way to get them all to the ceremony on time.


Yes, there are conversion criteria in the quality lodge/JTE materials. Some Lodges focus on the statistic rather than how to develop a plan that consistently meets the standards.

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I can empathize. I was inducted as a youth and finally became a Brotherhood member as an adult after a long absence from Scouting. Like you, I had memorized everything on the several Brotherhood questionnaires that I found and printed a thoughtful and sincere letter to the Lodge Chief. My Brotherhood class was a disappointment. It seemed that I was the only candidate who knew the material, and I actually dictated the song to the Lodge Chief to so he could write it on a white board for the class. On a positive note, the Brotherhood hike and ceremony were done very well.


Best regards,

Eagle '77

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During our district winter camp last year the lodge offered brotherhood conversions. I sent three scouts up to participate. It literally took the scouts longer to walk up to the meeting hall then to complete the requirements for Brotherhood. I was told they just repeated all requirements in unison. They all came back with nice new Brotherhood sashes.


The lodge needs a certain number of conversions to make Quality Lodge and this seems to be more important than a quality program.

Unfortunately this is the unintended consequences of the JTE philosophy.

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Brotherhood Conversion has been around longer than JTE. I remember hearing about it as a "yute" way back in the day.


I don't know the details of the JTE requirements, but with Quality Lodge, it was black and white: you MUST have X% Brotherhood conversion, or you will not get Quality Lodge, despite meeting all the other requirements. If memory serves, one lodge I was in missed Quality Lodge by 2 or 3 conversions. Everything else was met.

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And so we lower the standards to meet the standards that are suppose to raise our standards.

Makes perfect sense.


I certainly don't blame the lodge youth leadership, they're just trying to follow the adult JTE program.

JTE is just another scheme that forces adult goals on a program that is suppose to be youth led.



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I have mixed emotions on this, but I am a "program freak." :)


I did a quick review of the 36 page Lodge JTE requirements and explainations.


Overall the requirements are good, and I know that 2 of the 5 lodges I've been in either were meeting or had goals to improve in the areas covered by JTE.


And, again in my quick review, I did not notice any mandatory requirements like in previous programs. I think this is good b/c I know of outstanding lodges that, becasue they didn't meet 1 requirement by 3 people, didn't get it, while a neighboring lodge that didn't do 1/2 the stuff the other lodge did, get the award.


Grant you it should not be about the award, but cheerful service. But I've seen the disappointment in youth leaders over the matter.


One thing that I know will probably change, my chapter will probably start broadcasting the money they have camp improvements and local camperships in order to help the lodge. Yes the chapter contributes a campership to the lodge fund, but after an incident a few years back under a previous SE, they tend to keep things to themselves and supply a district campership when needed.

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On another note, the best way I have found to influence the "gimme" aspect of brotherhood is to incorporate the history into the rest of program. Learn why there are three taps and it is done as 1 and 2 taps. (3 parts of the scout oath and 12 parts of the scout law) and bring it up when you're just shooting the breeze with the members. Start chapter and lodge meetings with the obligation and end with the song. Get the ceremonies team more involved and get a hand out together to explain the ceremony team costumes and how they relate to the characters. Once you get through that, it's really not that much to do. Just take those little opportunities to encourage greater involvement and it get's easier.


It starts with the little things and requires using influence, rather than just telling scouts what to do. The key is to give them the pieces and let them put it together and have the patience to realize it's going to take some time to catch on. In this case it might mean talking to the Lodge Chief, Vice Chief of Program, and a few of the other guys and asking them if they can do you a favor or asking what they think of the idea. It's up to them to implement it on the grand scale, but you can start with other scouts to spread it at different levels. If it catches on, cool. If it doesn't there are still other ways to get there.

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  • 2 months later...

The OA experience is intended to have an introspective element, designed to facilitate personal growth. In part learning the "customs and traditions" of the Order of the Arrow facilitates that growth. In my opinion the program has been streamlined, and simplified, with everything becoming a checklist ... and that is counter to the order's intended methods, and purpose. Brotherhood membership has a perfect example of the departure from the orders "deep" element.


We need not change any requirements to correct this, just change our approach to how we deliver our material, test our candidates, and how we honor those who embrace the full experience offered b y the order.

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  • 6 months later...

I think there is a wildly different experience when an arrowman experiences this as a youth, as opposed to completing it it as an adult. I'm a father son order of the arrow team. I was tapped out over 30 years ago. My son is approaching his 2 year anniversary. I did my ordeal, which I still see as a life changing event. Staffed at my Brother's ordeal. Went to a section conclave. Then, just as I was eligible for brotherhood (I think it was 2 years in the 80's) I faded out of scouting got heavily involved in sports and never finished anything. As a side note If I had dropped one sport a year I could have been an eagle with the time I wasted. Now I regret it.


As my son became a scout I got re involved. When I signed up as an adult leader, I asked the council office what I needed to do to get a lodge patch for my uniform. As soon as my membership hit the computer my local chapter adviser contacted me and asked about brotherhood. It took me a year to feel that I was ready. Some of that was learning what Brotherhood meant. I actually did the ceremony at a last chance event that was designed, no doubt to help bring the percentage up. The candidates were all adults. I had the longest time at the ordeal level being around 30 years. The class was informative rather than testing, I think like tgrim I gained more by my own study. I also pre printed my letter. That helped me to understand that I had done much to help the lodge and my local units. The ceremony was beautiful, rich with symbols, and once again was a life changing experience for me.


My son was a different story. At the completion of his Ordeal mere weeks from his call out, the chapter anviser and I insured that he was active in the chapter. He attended lodge events and 2 weeks after passing the 10 mont waiting time he attended his brotherhood ceremony at the first possible opportunity. It was no gimme for him. He had become a full and active member of the OA.


I see it like this. Many who are called out never attend ordeal. They are exceptional scouts who for one reason or another never make the commitment to a life of service in the brotherhood of the OA. Many who attend Ordeal, fade away, or in the case of many scouters I personally know, get offended and never return. These are great Scouts who have what it takes to be Arrowmen, but get lost. If an arrowman is active enough to be remembered 10 months later and if he is willing to get to a brotherhood ceremony, then it is no giveaway to get him through the ceremony. And we certainly hope he will continue to be active in the lodge. We have one exception in our chapter. We have an active arrowman who just can't seem to get to a ceremony. He is in my mind only, brotherhood.


As to preserving the traditions. I would rather see my brotherhood candidates serving as elangomat at Ordeal ceremonies than memorizing.


My point is that as an adult I would have been disappointed. Maybe as a youth it is age appropriate.



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Was at a RT last month...saw a 15 year old Vigil member. I just had to laugh. Back in the day You could count the Vigil guys in our lodge on one hand and most of them were 17 nearly 18 and Eagles. There were 5, all barely 5ft, standing talking to each other.


Trophies for everyone.

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