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Our spring camporee for Boy Scouts will be working closely with the community activities for Earth Day.  The scouts will man booths for different organizations, provide helping hands for the people coming to Earth Day activities, etc.  It's basically a working service project for 2 days.  Last spring was similar for the scouts working at the local landfill.  It was a lot of reclamation work for the environment.  At the end of the day they were to drive 40 miles to where they would camp for the night and then return the next day.

 

Where was the OA for any of this?  Nowhere.  This is what the AO was expected to do and yet are a no-show when the work rolls around.The only work our OA does is keeping the ordeal candidates busy setting up and taking down summer camp each year.  Now they don't even do that and the whole council is invited to come up and do that work.

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Our OA was dead, dead, dead.  No activities of any kind for a year.  Zip.

 

Then they got a new adviser  and Lodge Chief.  In two years, its better than anyone (even OFs)  can remember.  

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Our council camps could use a ton of upkeep, yet our Lodge "clears brush"...and in areas that really don't matter. It is not like they are clear-cutting or removing scrub brush to reduce flash fire risks. It is busy work. We've got a ton of Oa members, yet the projects getting done are small, simple and less than most Eagle projects I've seen done.

 

Would love to see them do more. I suspect OA is just seen as just one more thing to take up peoples' time.

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Every lodge is different, every chapter is different, and the type of leadership does help.

 

My chapter is very active. We run the trading post at multiple events at the local camp. over the past 10 years, Approx. $12K was given back to the camp in the form or equipment, and "maintenance." The little remaining goes towards a campership each year. I'm estimating $2,700 over the past 10 years.

 

One of the issues we have is nationals  new NCAP that has a "one size fits all" approach. New construction at camps need to use specific designs so that all BSA camps will look identical, and keep the "brand's" image. Sometimes that is not feasible. Best example of that is BSA's bathhouse design not meeting local standards. It's a mess.

 

I know for a fact that not everyone at national has field experience. And it seems as if more and more are getting in and changing things without knowing what they are doing. I saw this first hand when I worked for supply. While they have made some improvements, I like that they sell more camping gear now, they still sell a lot of silly stuff. Anyone remember the AOL belt buckle for leather belts?

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As for purpose, I had always understood that Service was their big claim, but in practice, it seems intended as a way to keep some of the older boys involved in Scouting.  In theory, they are supposed to reamin active with their Troops, but I have seen some get so involved in OA stuff, that they really didn't participate much with the Troop, so that's harder to see in practice.

 

Amen.  I've been a Scoutmaster for three years now and have wholeheartedly supported the OA.  I see lots of great things happening with the OA in our area, and the additional friendships & activities that our OA conduct really seem to help our Scouts become better Scouters.  I always kind of thought that the Scoutmasters that didn't support the OA were the grouchy old guys that have been around for years and years and years and it was their way or the highway.  But... I'm seeing more and more of our senior Scouts choosing OA activities vs. Troop activities... and that kind of bugs me a little.  Older Scouts mentored and taught these current older Scouts when they were younger.  If there are no older Scouts on the campouts, aren't the newer Scouts being disadvantaged? I think so.

 

It's becoming more and more common for our older Scouts to defer to OA activities vs. Troop activities.  I'm really at a loss as to "what to do about it" as I do want to support the OA.  I certainly don't want to overtly call this out as a problem as I do see that the OA provides value.  But I can certainly understand why some would struggle with the value of the OA and fight against losing "their" Scouts.

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... I always kind of thought that the Scoutmasters that didn't support the OA were the grouchy old guys that have been around for years and years and years and it was their way or the highway.  But... I'm seeing more and more of our senior Scouts choosing OA activities vs. Troop activities... and that kind of bugs me a little.  Older Scouts mentored and taught these current older Scouts when they were younger.  If there are no older Scouts on the campouts, aren't the newer Scouts being disadvantaged? I think so.

 

It's becoming more and more common for our older Scouts to defer to OA activities vs. Troop activities.  I'm really at a loss as to "what to do about it" as I do want to support the OA.  I certainly don't want to overtly call this out as a problem as I do see that the OA provides value.  But I can certainly understand why some would struggle with the value of the OA and fight against losing "their" Scouts.

 

Ah, I see you have been through our "ordeal", welcome to the Order of Grouchy Old Guys*.  We chant  "OGeezOGeez" whenever we lose one of our prime older scouts to OA.  :(

 

*Note: We now accept women scouters who are Grouchy Old Gals.

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This whole dynamic of troops losing boys to OA is the same as loosing them to the Venturing Crews.  If one isn't going to provide a decent program in the troop, the boys will leave.  Fortunately OA and Venturing does help retain a few.

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There is a difference.

 

In my experience, our older scouts spend their time with older scouts in OA but return to the troop mostly to finish their Eagle and little else. OA can have them. Set it up that a scout who joined OA would have his unit membership transferred to his OA lodge. The scout could then seek Eagle through his OA lodge similar to a Venture Crew.

 

My grumpy $0.02,

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When I was Lodge Secretary, renewal of membership required a letter from the member's SM stating that the member had been an "active member" of the Troop or Post over the last year.  It was not unknown for a member to be dropped for failure to supply such a letter after being reminded.  That, plus the fantastic camping directory supplied by the Lodge )(updated quarterly and personally delivered - in a mimeograph age) kept the SMs supportive of OA.

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T

 

When I was Lodge Secretary, renewal of membership required a letter from the member's SM stating that the member had been an "active member" of the Troop or Post over the last year.  It was not unknown for a member to be dropped for failure to supply such a letter after being reminded.  That, plus the fantastic camping directory supplied by the Lodge )(updated quarterly and personally delivered - in a mimeograph age) kept the SMs supportive of OA.

 

How about this instead, if a scout wants to stay active in OA, he must plan and lead a troop campout to a new location listed in OA Camp directory. The SM would then send a letter when a successful campout had been completed by scout. No letter from SM, OA membership canceled.

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As our Scouts planned their annual activities every August for the upcoming program year, I (SM) always supplied  calendars that had upcoming holidays, school vacations, council, district, and OA events already planned. Most established dates they had (or wanted) to avoid. Others, they could choose. We always avoided OA events. There were usually very few weekends left to choose from for our camp outs. Kind of worked itself out.

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While planning a campout is fine, Scouts are supposed to be doing that democratically year 'round.  

 

OA is for active Scouts.  It is not an alternative.

 

"[T]he OA emphasizes service to the unit. In this way, Arrowmen give back to their troops with the leadership skills and values of service learned through the Order."

 

(Not surprising that that OA's spokesperson does not know that the primary "unit" in Boy Scouting is the patrol, not the troop.)

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There is a difference.

 

In my experience, our older scouts spend their time with older scouts in OA but return to the troop mostly to finish their Eagle and little else. OA can have them. Set it up that a scout who joined OA would have his unit membership transferred to his OA lodge. The scout could then seek Eagle through his OA lodge similar to a Venture Crew.

 

My grumpy $0.02,

 

I don't think the OA wants the hassle of Boy Scout advancement added to their program.  Same holds true for the Venturing Crews.  I told my VC boys that either they stay with their troop and Eagle (which was heavily emphasized and encouraged), they take on the entire process on their own and get signatures from me as necessary or they take a pass on the Eagle because the crew wasn't going to hassle that as part of it's program.  I had only one scout not Eagle under this arrangement.  I had seven that did as well as two that also held Vigil in OA. 

 

My even grumpier $0.02.

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Tahawk:  Not what we have seen here.

 

Don't get me started on scheduling our troop program AROUND OA weekends. :mad:

 

Ever notice where "hassle" ends up in Scouting? Not at Council, OA, Crew, Summer Camp, scouts, parents,...

Edited by RememberSchiff

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Amen.  I've been a Scoutmaster for three years now and have wholeheartedly supported the OA.  I see lots of great things happening with the OA in our area, and the additional friendships & activities that our OA conduct really seem to help our Scouts become better Scouters.  I always kind of thought that the Scoutmasters that didn't support the OA were the grouchy old guys that have been around for years and years and years and it was their way or the highway.  But... I'm seeing more and more of our senior Scouts choosing OA activities vs. Troop activities... and that kind of bugs me a little.  Older Scouts mentored and taught these current older Scouts when they were younger.  If there are no older Scouts on the campouts, aren't the newer Scouts being disadvantaged? I think so.

 

It's becoming more and more common for our older Scouts to defer to OA activities vs. Troop activities.  I'm really at a loss as to "what to do about it" as I do want to support the OA.  I certainly don't want to overtly call this out as a problem as I do see that the OA provides value.  But I can certainly understand why some would struggle with the value of the OA and fight against losing "their" Scouts.

 

So out of curiosity, have you spoken to those older Scouts who seem to be deferring to OA Activities vs. Troop Activities?  Have you asked them why?  This is really not a new dynamic - things like this happened back in the 70's and 80's too .  I spoke with a Scoutmaster at an Ordeal weekend when I was a Vice Chief who had the same complaint - I took time to informally chat with a couple of the Scouts he mentioned by name and they mentioned that the unit programming was getting boring.  The Scoutmaster didn't think to ask the Scouts and the Scouts didn't know how to talk to the Scoutmaster about it.  I think that's a real shame - and I suspect that's a lot more common than we think.  Heck, I was only 20 and I knew that was a problem.

 

There is nothing in this thread that is anything new - the same complaints were made in the 70's and the 80's.  Sash and Dash happened back then (though in my Lodge it was usually Brotherhood and Dash because we had a limited Lodge flap - you got one for Ordeal and one for Brotherhood - and that was it - you couldn't buy them, and if you traded or sold one, you were no longer welcome in the Lodge).  Scoutmasters questioned the usefulness.  Adults struggled with whether to join or not.  Scouts didn't get elected in to the Lodge by their fellow Scouts (because "it's a popularity contest").  Some lodges were stronger than others.  Northeast Illinois Council and Northwest Suburban Council had very strong lodges with great lodge and chapter programming.  Others had great lodge programs but poor chapter programs.  No Lodge was the same.  I can say with confidence that the strongest Troops in my District and in the Council were those that had good participation in the Lodge.  My Troop was always heavily involved in the OA - in fact, the Explorer Post that spun off of the Troop specialized in Native American Dancing and while not an official OA Dance Team, was the go to Dance Team for the Lodge.  In fact, in one 7 year period, 12 folks from the Troop became Vigil Honor Members.  We only get out of the OA what we put in to it.

 

If the OA is suffering, it is suffering from the same reasons that the rest of the BSA is suffering from.  I have seen Council executive completely ignore and neglect the OA.  I have heard of some Council executives who want to just drown their Lodges in a bathtub and do away with it in their Council.  I have seen Lodges fall apart when the Council sells off the home camp.  But the OA still thrives in other places. - and that's something that can still be built on.

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