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3.  True appreciation for Native American culture and heritage.

 

I wish more kids thought about this.  Native American culture, Hollywood or otherwise, hasn't been part of mainstream American culture for decades.  When the OA was founded Native American tribes were still making pilgrimages to Washington, D. C. to meet with the government.  How many of our youth today could identify the acronym BIA?

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@@desertrat77, I personally would have changed OA this way:

  • If a camping "honor society" make it hard to get. 15 nights over two years? How about 25-30 nights over two years? That's an achievement and worthy of someone who is truly a camper.  YES!  And more nights every year to keep status.
  • Service group? Why not make service hours part of the joining requirement? YES! Should "in cheerful service" be just a platitude or something that one really strives for? Why not make mega service hours a condition for election...or even for keeping your status?YES! 
  • Make leadership at the troop level a requirement. Reward those who truly give of themselves as leaders credit for doing so.  YES! 
  • Want to stop the popularity contest? Elect candidates blindly. Have Candidate #1 and give his qualifications (e.g., 35 nights camping, 55 service hours, continuous troop leadership positions, etc.).
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When I was a scout in the 60/70s, each Troop voted for the two OA candidates minimum age 14. Only two, so it was always the two best scouts in the troop. And usually these scouts were the most active campers and leaders. Being voted as a candidate was considered more honorable than earning the Eagle because you were voted in by your peers. And if the candidate passed their ordeal ( that was not automatic back then) the scouts were considered the best of the best. Kind of Special Forces of scouting. Ask an Eagle scout who was in the OA back then and he will fill you will stories of the OA and hardly mention the Eagle. 

 

Today all the scouts are expected to be voted in, which takes the honor out of it.

 

Barry

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Well... I wasn't trying to cause a fuss.  I was just trying to figure out if my instincts about OA were right and it seems they are. 

 

I was bothered about the father/son tradition also and I talked with the SM about that.  The reasoning seems to be not every parent is chosen, but if they meet the requirements it is put to a vote.  Right now there are only four adults, including myself, actively participating with the troop and three are in OA.  Trying to be objective, would I meet the requirements?  I think so.  I just don't want to because to me it has to mean something besides a patch.  I can't figure out why it is so insulting that I refused.  Not just in my son's troop, but almost district wide and that is what has me rethinking scouting.

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I understand your situation and concern. I wish misconceived traditions like this were uncommon. 

 

It is okay for you or your son to say "No thanks".

 

As always talk the situation through with your son and do what you think is best for him. 

 

I'm hoping he says "I'm with you Dad."

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When I was a scout in the 60/70s, each Troop voted for the two OA candidates minimum age 14. Only two, so it was always the two best scouts in the troop. And usually these scouts were the most active campers and leaders. Being voted as a candidate was considered more honorable than earning the Eagle because you were voted in by your peers. And if the candidate passed their ordeal ( that was not automatic back then) the scouts were considered the best of the best. Kind of Special Forces of scouting. Ask an Eagle scout who was in the OA back then and he will fill you will stories of the OA and hardly mention the Eagle. 

 

Today all the scouts are expected to be voted in, which takes the honor out of it.

 

Barry

Very true, Barry.

 

The elections made a tough cut.  Some good scouts never got selected.   The ordeal was precisely that--an ordeal.   Pushed to the brink, mentally and physically.   The pride of wearing that brand new Ordeal sash was incredible, yet it was of the quiet and humble variety.   Boasting and showing off was considered uncouth.

 

The design of the lodge flap didn't matter much.   Most were quite plain and rudimentary.   Many lodges didn't change them for years and years.   No matter.   Quiet pride meant treasuring the privilege of wearing the flap.  

 

Did the call go out in the district or council for a dirty job?   The OA was the first to show up.   Didn't need to twist arms.

 

Native American culture--an ongoing education into all aspects.   With deep respect.

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Yep, all of us old people remember the Ordeal arrow or stick you wore around your neck.  Violations of rules brought notches, and 3 would send you home.  Elections were never automatic, and some very deserving probably never got elected; thus the current system which bypasses the real honor in it for the most part, especially if it is not presented right at the time of the election.  Yes, there were some instances of "black-balling" on occasion, but they were mostly dealt with when they happened, though not always I am afraid.  Ceremonies were seldom read, and the tap out was impressive in most cases, something younger scouts could witness and hope to be part of, even while it was sometimes a bit scary or rough.  but actually memorized, and regalia was a point of pride for many.  

 

After the ceremony at my Ordeal, part of the welcome was teaching us the toe-heel and canoe steps for basic dancing.  I still can do a rudimentary version, though get tired really fast now.  As noted, the removal of most of the unknown ceremonial aspects has really hurt the specialness of it too.  Again, I understand need for parents understanding the basics, but kids still love secretive stuff, and being able to prove themselves, even if it is not obvious or seen as acceptable by some.  

 

And I still feel much of it could be reestablished without any harm, probably to the overall benefit.

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I admit, I lament how the OA has changed over the years. I know that when I was more active with the OA, I tried to bring back a sense of ''best of the best'' in regards to the OA. I also worked with the youth to get a good program going. Yes we worked hard, but I also wanted us to play hard.

 

Some of the downfall I blame national. I still do not llike the current election process. There is an expectation by many that everyone gets in. Heck had 1 SM ticked off at me and the election team because we ''scared off half my Scouts.''' Sad thing is, this was a former lodge chief and section officer who wasmad at us.

 

But I also need to blame some of the idiots before me, who went overboard. Yes there were legitmate cases of hazing that occured. Yes someone did get their shoulder dislocated at a TAPOUT CEREMONY, which led to a lawsuit, and lawyers reviewinghow things were done andbeingdelared possible child abuse and hazing.

 

But what really hit home with me was talking to my son. Unlike when I was his age and First Class, he could care less about getting into the OA as it isn't a big deal for him. Considering he's been a PL, SPL, and nominated for a second SPL term (he declined and wentfor TG) I think he will get elected the first time. That is the only thing he likes, the possibility of getting in on the first ballot compared to me and getting in on the 3rd ballot..

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Well said, Eagle94.

 

True, there were people that went too far.   Crossed the line from tough and challenging to abusive.   Completely contrary to the OA Spirit.

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I have been in the Order since '75.   I  must sadly agree that it's a shadow of what it was.  Mostly the scouters seem to be preoccupied with new member numbers, brotherhood percentages,  and other metrics national seems to think are so so important.  The scouters of my era at least the ones I remember worked at teaching us the meaning of all the fine sounding words in the Obligation.  and set the example at living it out.  They taught us that there was honor in serving.  It did not matter if we got a medal, or a patch, or even a word of thanks, God knew that we had served, and we knew and that was all that truly mattered.    

  We worked as camporee staff,  parked cars at a scouts funeral,  helped out new troops,  dressed up as Blackfoot Indians and went to 25-30 cub packs a year  to give out arrows of light.     We made our own bonnets, war shirts, drums, etc.  drove our own cars,  paid for the gas, and never charged a dime.

 The OA was also a place where most of us were ASPLs SPLs or had been.  So it was a place where one could freely ask for help and advice from those who truly " been there- done that" 

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All good responses which take us back to the original post: Why OA?

 

It's a weekend, a flap and another set of dues. There is no obligation, no teaching, no mentoring, no service...no honor. Everyone gets in. Pay your dues and wait, everyone makes Brotherhood. Wait a bit longer, play some political games and, again, pay more dues and you make Vigil. That's my area, at least.

 

I will not belong to OA. These days, it is more a badge of honor NOT to be in OA. People ask me why I'm not and I tell them. Most nod their head in agreement. Some nod and tell me to join and change it. Few...very few...will argue with me about how wrong I am....and then under their breath say how I will never be in OA and thereby validating my assertion that it is an old-man's club of bitter guys trying to relive their lost scouting youth.

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All good responses which take us back to the original post: Why OA?

 

It's a weekend, a flap and another set of dues. There is no obligation, no teaching, no mentoring, no service...no honor. Everyone gets in. Pay your dues and wait, everyone makes Brotherhood. Wait a bit longer, play some political games and, again, pay more dues and you make Vigil. That's my area, at least.

 

I will not belong to OA. These days, it is more a badge of honor NOT to be in OA. People ask me why I'm not and I tell them. Most nod their head in agreement. Some nod and tell me to join and change it. Few...very few...will argue with me about how wrong I am....and then under their breath say how I will never be in OA and thereby validating my assertion that it is an old-man's club of bitter guys trying to relive their lost scouting youth.

Krampus, I agree.

 

The OA is now just a club.

 

If those bitter old cats really cared about the OA, they'd try to bring back the old spirit of the organization, and not the patch collecting clique it has become.   The obligation meant something, and there are times I still think about certain phrases from it. 

 

The OA is just another example of how something can be diluted to the point where the original meaning is lost.   I think there may have been some resentment in the past about the ordeal and other aspects that did not favor "participation trophy" syndrome.  So the BSA decided to let some air of the tires.   However, it is interesting that the same is not true with the Eagle rank...heck, you'd think making Eagle was akin to a coronation these days.   The BSA has no problem with the exclusiveness of that part of the organization.

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Well not completely useless. Because of my experience of OA back in the day, I didn't push it much while I was a SM. I didn't discourage it and we did have some adults in our troop who enjoyed the program, but I just didn't push it much. However, several of our scouts who did join flourished in OA because they love the serving side of scouting. Most of the OA leadership in our district was from our troop. The adult representatives enjoyed our scouts because they knew how to organize, plan and run events. I took that as a sign of our program being successful. 

 

Ironically, because our troop seem to produce good enthusiastic leaders, I was asked several times to be the OA district representative. I always declined without explanation and that frustrated some. But my heart just isn't into the new and modern OA. 

 

Barry

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If those bitter old cats really cared about the OA, they'd try to bring back the old spirit of the organization, and not the patch collecting clique it has become.   The obligation meant something, and there are times I still think about certain phrases from it. 

 

The OA is just another example of how something can be diluted to the point where the original meaning is lost.   I think there may have been some resentment in the past about the ordeal and other aspects that did not favor "participation trophy" syndrome.  So the BSA decided to let some air of the tires.   However, it is interesting that the same is not true with the Eagle rank...heck, you'd think making Eagle was akin to a coronation these days.   The BSA has no problem with the exclusiveness of that part of the organization.

 

@@desertrat77

 

BSA and scout parents don't see the Eagle being watered down any, but there aren't many on the forum that argue with me about the increasing numbers of Parlor/Paper Eagles out there today.  The prestige is gone, BSA just hasn't accepted it as of yet.  Heck, simply being a Boy Scout isn't the prestige it once was 50 years ago. 

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@@desertrat77

 

BSA and scout parents don't see the Eagle being watered down any, but there aren't many on the forum that argue with me about the increasing numbers of Parlor/Paper Eagles out there today.  The prestige is gone, BSA just hasn't accepted it as of yet.  Heck, simply being a Boy Scout isn't the prestige it once was 50 years ago. 

Good points, Stosh.

 

The pageantry of making Eagle has increased, but the real meaning behind the rank has decreased quite a bit.

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