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I'll be the countrary voice here, because unfortunately that seems to be my perspective on this forum.....

 

Like most things in Scouting, all Scouting is local. Your mileage varys, your professional staff, your camp, your OA lodge, your training events, your camporees. They all vary in quality year to year and from council to council.

 

In my Council, our OA lodge is very active. They do a good deal of service for the council camp. I think it's no accident that a large number of OA members also staff NYLT or Summer Camp. When I was elected into the OA, I thought the Ordeal was tough but fair. I can't honestly remember much about it other than doing service work and the ceremonies. Overall, I'm happy with the OA in my council. They're far from perfect, but I think if we assess our own units in the BSA, we'd realize we're all in a place that's far from perfect.

 

Generally speaking, OA elections are a "popularity contest", but I trust the Boys to elect the folks who are actually leaders and good young men. I don't have the crud in my eyes of watching my perfect snowflake fail to get elected year after year.

I have no experience with the process of Adults becoming OA members. It's not something I've dealt with, since I don't handle that kind of nonsense in my unit. ​

I haven't been as involved with the OA as I would like to be. ​That's to say, I wasn't involved much after being an Elangomat and getting my Brotherhood.

I'm not a big proponent of the whole "today sucks, the past was so much better" worldview. Perhaps it was because I wasn't alive in the glory days and just don't know what I missed out on....

In any case, to the original poster, the OA is another opportunity for your son and yourself( if you want to) ​​to be involved with Scouting a bit more on the council level. It wasn't something I was interested in, and I've spent my youth and adult Scouting on the unit level almost exclusively. I've had some friends who got a lot more out of the OA than they ever did out of the Unit.

 

Best of luck, and if yo​​ur son joins the OA, you aren't obligated to become an OA member, that's a pretty silly troop tradition in my opinion.
 

Sentinel947

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Speaking as a long-time OA member ('76), I think the OA is slowly dying.   Pockets are still alive, but not many.

 

 

 

Record Setting at NOAC? 

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Like most things in Scouting, all Scouting is local. Your mileage varys, your professional staff, your camp, your OA lodge, your training events, your camporees. They all vary in quality year to year and from council to council.

We agree, though I personally don't see a variance year on year.

 

Generally speaking, OA elections are a "popularity contest", but I trust the Boys to elect the folks who are actually leaders and good young men. I don't have the crud in my eyes of watching my perfect snowflake fail to get elected year after year.

Straight popularity contest. I've seen guys who were solid leaders, outstanding campers and have 10 times the service hours of the other candidates go un-elected for several years....all because they are not popular, but still very good scouts.

 

I have no experience with the process of Adults becoming OA members. It's not something I've dealt with, since I don't handle that kind of nonsense in my unit. ​

How do you "elect" adult OA members then?

 

I'm not a big proponent of the whole "today sucks, the past was so much better" worldview. Perhaps it was because I wasn't alive in the glory days and just don't know what I missed out on....

Too bad. Today does suck and yesterday was much better. ;)

 

In any case, to the original poster, the OA is another opportunity for your son and yourself( if you want to) ​​to be involved with Scouting a bit more on the council level. It wasn't something I was interested in, and I've spent my youth and adult Scouting on the unit level almost exclusively.

Doesn't this actually prove the point I am making? Even you -- a very gun-ho Brotherhood member -- is not active in OA right now nor were you "as active as you wanted to be". So what is the benefit besides losing more money and getting a cool patch?

 

Interesting points, but seems your lack of involvement in OA proves the point: time is better spent in your own unit.

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Record Setting at NOAC?

What record was set at NOAC?   Attendance?  

 

When I said the OA was slowly dying, I wasn't just referring to raw data.   I am speaking about quality as well as quantity.

 

Please check out the previous posts that compare/contrast OA past/present.   That's where I was going.   

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@@Krampus

I don't handle OA adult ​nominations. I'm not the Scoutmaster or the Committee chair. I "do my job" and that is not part of my job.

I think we have to agree that our units are different. In my unit, the good scouts, the active ones, the ones who are developing as leaders, get elected. The big boss types that mommy and daddy think are gods gift to the Troop? The other boys see right through them.

As for my own involvement/lack of. I'd like to be. When I was a Scout, my Troop as a whole just didn't participate much in the OA. Like other posters have noted, nobody really effectively made the case for why we should be involved in OA events. Now as an Adult leader I see the benefits the OA brings to Scouts in my Council. As an adult, the only benefit is to be surrounded by Adults who are as crazy about this scouting stuff as I am. I might have a role to play in mentoring youth leaders in the OA, but since I'm not active, that's not possible.

 

As a youth member, I mi​ssed out on another opportunity to do cool scouting events. Our lodge is big and active. Some of my best friends I've made from working on Camp Staff were big in the OA. I would have met those people years ago if I had been active in the OA as a youth member.

My own involvement isn't possible, (they meet on Tuesday nights, I take Tuesday night classes in college.) Weekend events are hard to make when the Troop schedules events the same weekend. Trying to make my Troop remember how to use the patrol method after ditching it 5 years ago is also a gigantic time/energy suck. ​​When you upset the way things have been run, and offer an alternative, I had to be willing to put my time and energy where I was running my mouth.......=P.

The OA has a chance to be something special if the adults and youth in it want it to be. Or it can be a waste of time. Similarly the Boy Scout program that is all about collecting Merit Badges and going on carefully adult planned events is a gigantic waste of the potential of this program. 

Yours in Scouting,

Sentinel947 ​

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Wouldn't record attendance at NOAC prove the point of everyone gets in?

 

How can our overall membership numbers be dropping, but OA members rising to record levels, if not the fact that we are accepting more (undeserving) people in to OA?

 

In my troop as a kid we have maybe 8 guys in OA out of 70+ guys. We had plenty eligible. We all camped a ton. But we really only thought those guys who were elected deserved it. They walked on water in our eyes.

 

Today I cannot say the same.

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I think we have to agree that our units are different. In my unit, the good scouts, the active ones, the ones who are developing as leaders, get elected. The big boss types that mommy and daddy think are gods gift to the Troop? The other boys see right through them.

 

 

It is not just my unit. It is every unit I see and talk to. It is my personal interaction with the OA youth on which my opinion is based. These guys are the popular types, many not very good leaders.

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So we've heard a lot of pros and cons in this thread.  Why not just try out the OA.  If your son doesn't like it, he doesn't have to go or pay dues.

No big whoop.

 

Please have a look at this.  Skip to pages 35 and 36 of the pdf.

 

I'd say while the elections are not supposed to be a popularity contest, if a scout act as described in pages 35 and 36, they are bound to be (should be) popular in the troop.

 

Give it a shot.  Judge based on what you experience and not what other people say.  Read the book, not just the cover.

 

Good luck!

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FYI, Lodge life in our council seems to be a lot of fun. Arrowmen are a helpful lot. They've backed me up when I needed help with my Venturing responsibilities.

 

Our troop has a goodly number of 1st class scouts who lose elections, another number who are tapped out, count the cost, and don't do Ordeal (which I take as a good sign that they value it enough not to show up as slackers), a majority who will volunteer if there's a call for Arrowmen to serve, and a minority who attend lodge events regularly.

 

@@koolaidman's advice is spot-on. You'll never know if you don't try. But if you all sincerely have something better to do, no one's gonna be too upset if you take a pass.

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So we've heard a lot of pros and cons in this thread.  Why not just try out the OA.  If your son doesn't like it, he doesn't have to go or pay dues.

No big whoop.

 

Please have a look at this.  Skip to pages 35 and 36 of the pdf.

 

I'd say while the elections are not supposed to be a popularity contest, if a scout act as described in pages 35 and 36, they are bound to be (should be) popular in the troop.

 

Give it a shot.  Judge based on what you experience and not what other people say.  Read the book, not just the cover.

 

Good luck!

@koolaidman

 

Look at what?

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I don't try.  Using that premise, there are a lot of organizations I could try. 

 

I have be able to believe in what I am part of and so far I haven't seen anything that OA, at least my area, has offered me to believe in.  If that is wrong, then OA is doing a very poor job getting the word out. 

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I don't try.  Using that premise, there are a lot of organizations I could try. 

 

I have be able to believe in what I am part of and so far I haven't seen anything that OA, at least my area, has offered me to believe in.  If that is wrong, then OA is doing a very poor job getting the word out. 

 

Sounds like you have made your mind up, so stop beating your chest and lets just move along.  I don't believe anyone where is trying to convince you.  My lodge, while it has its down sides, does a lot of community and camp project.  Cheerful Service

Edited by JasonG172
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http://www.oa-bsa.org/uploads/publications/GuideToUnitElections2015.pdf

 

Sorry hyperlink paste didn't go through first time.

 

Here's my problem: Page 36 asks all these questions that are additional requirements to get elected to the OA. They have nothing to do with camping. They have nothing to do with service. All those questions from "Member C" ask questions unrelated to the requirements. If I were SM and had to judge who was eligible based on all those questions I would probably nominate 1-3 scouts instead of 8-10.

 

Worse: Most scouts I have seen make OA meet few of those requirements asked by "Member C". I'm not talking just my unit. I am talking about the current generation of scouts I have seen over the last 12-15 years.

 

If OA wants to live up to all those ideals spouted out by "Member C", they should be requirements listed as part of being eligible for OA membership, from which the SM can use as quantitative guidelines for accepting or rejecting a scout for OA.

 

Lastly, these should be on-going criteria for staying in OA. Many scouts and adults I see around scouting wear the flap, but do not walk the walk outlined on page 36.

Edited by Krampus

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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.

Rat, thats why I am still active,  trying to keep the fire burning, sometimes it feels like shoveling water upstream, but gotta do what I can.

Oldscout.  ps. I don't bother with patches,  if I have not earned it, I don't want it

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