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Eagle94-A1

Has the OA Lost It's Luster?

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Not this in OA only as I think it’s a general topic. Last night my troop held OA elections 2 of the youth decided they did not want to run. The First Scout said he was not interested, and I think it gave courage to the second Scout to say he's not interested since he had been elected twice, but never gone through the Ordeal.

 

I had a chance to talk to the first Scout on the way home it was my son. He basically said he had no appeal to join since all he sees it as another meeting to go to a month.  He does not see them doing anything. He would rather stay home and spend the limited time he gets for games playing them. I've not been as active as I would like with the OA, but thinking about everything the chapter use to do, and is doing now, he is correct.  I really do not see them doing as much as they use to. If anything is getting done, i.e. taking care of the local camp, it's the adults doing the work, not the youth.

 

This really hit home for me.  I am a Vigil. OA is what kept me going after I earned Eagle, providing me with challenges and opportunities that my Sea Scout ship didn’t offer. I’ve been an OA associate advisor and chapter advisor, so I know what the OA has to offer.

 

But for whatever reason, the OA has lost its luster with the ones who really matter: the Scouts.  

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Sad to say this is pretty much the case.  There are probably some active lodges out there that are active, the lodges I have been associated with are largely just a big "click" for the kids that are on camp staff.

The ceremonies that are being dictated by National are so lame and disgusting it is not even funny.

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Well, one of my Venturers is missing a backpacking weekend for his ordeal, so it's not completely lost.

But, youth are guarding their time and $$s more carefully these days. At least the ones I know aren't going through the ordeal unless they can follow through with doing some real service as an Arrowman.

 

Contrast that to me who was more than happy to have my name on a roster, even if it meant no particular involvement in lodge life after the ordeal. At least these kids are thinking about making a real commitment.

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The more you play up the "camping, service, and fun" angle the better the response. Not so much with the "Honor society of scouting". We are getting better participation by word of mouth by boys who go our Lodge and come back with reports "Its really boy led!". The rest go to get Ordeal and 'sash and dash'. I am working to have a little more OA visibility at the Troop level.

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I don't think my troop has elected anyone to OA since a couple of years before my son joined the troop, and he's about to have his 25th birthday, so it's been awhile.  There have been a few kids over the years who have talked about getting it going again, and a couple of presentations to the boys about it (probably separated by 10 years), but in the end the interest just wasn't there.

 

But that is just my troop.  It is my understanding that the lodge is going strong, it's just going without us.

Edited by NJCubScouter

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As a long time active member of the OA (Tapped out and Ordeal in 1978, Brotherhood in 1985) who has had the opportunity thanks to a twenty-one year Army career to be a member in multiple Lodges around the world, I can say that it is thelocal council lodge that makes or breaks the reputation in it's area for the boys within it's reach.  Good lodges with good programs and support do well and attract members.  Poor ones do not.  Simple as that.

 

In my current neck of the woods, the local lodge is still rebuilding after losing many of the dedicated adults, who due to changes in BSA policy, cut thier ties with Scouting.  This, combinded with the loss of thier units and scouts, has meant that it has not been able to be as active at council events as it had in the past.  It's not so much that it has lost its luster, its just been out of sight.  When our scouts dont see the Arrowmen staffing, or get to watch the ceremonial dance team perform at council events then the OA slips into obscurity.  

 

Quazse is right when he states that today's youth are guarding thier time and money these days.  With so many choices, if a local lodge doesn't sell itself well, then the time and money will go elsewhere.  And Tampa Turtle, I too never liked the OA being referred to as the "National Honor Society of the BSA".  I much preferred "Society of Honored Campers", which is a much truer to the aims and purposes of the order.

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That was the surprising thing for me. Local lodge is active. Lodge does lots of AIA stuff, puts on displays at council camporee, etc. it's the local chapter that is having issues.

 

Another sad point, I was chapter advisor before oldest was in Cubs. In fact I stepped down because I was becoming a Tiger Den Leader. We were the most active chapter in the lodge. The chapter restarted the lodge AIA committee, promoted ceremonies etc.

 

On a positive note. I'm proud of the oldest for making a mature decision. I know when I was involved in the OA as a youth and adviser, I'd rather Scouts back out at the election, than A) get elected and not go through as a friend of mine did or B) "Sash and Dash"

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The OA is a shadow of its former self.

 

"Honor society" does not resonate.   As Cchoat stated, "Society of Honored Campers" meant something in the past.   Alas, no more.

 

This is the natural result of watering down a formerly challenging program. 

 

Sign of the times:   it is longer an "ordeal."   Instead, it is an "experience" ("The Fall Experience").  

 

On the upside, if you like lodge patch collecting, this is truly the golden age.   I've never seen so many variations.   But it doesn't mean much.   I'd rather have the old plain patch that actually meant something than collect about a dozen fancy current ones.

 

(Ordeal '76, Brotherhood '78)

Edited by desertrat77

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I admit I'm a little into patch collecting. Heck I helped design a lodge's NOAC and lodge 50th Anniversary flaps, as well as Fall fellowship temp patches.

 

But to paraphrase Inigo Montoya: I WANT MY OA BACK....

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I admit I'm a little into patch collecting. Heck I helped design a lodge's NOAC and lodge 50th Anniversary flaps, as well as Fall fellowship temp patches.

 

But to paraphrase Inigo Montoya: I WANT MY OA BACK....

Eagle, kudos for the patch designs...those are traditional/time honored patches for fitting occasions.   I was referring to the trend of having 27 current/cutesey different lodge flaps for every reason under the sun....

 

I too want my old OA back, but I'm afraid it's gone.   Unless it is reincarnated as something else.   OA is now suited for the indoor crowd.

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I too want my old OA back, but I'm afraid it's gone.   Unless it is reincarnated as something else.   OA is now suited for the indoor crowd.

I think that says it best. I remember watching a new scout dragging his sleeping bag trough the mud at a 1995 Ordeal.

 

Arrowmen used to be considered the special forces of scouts. They earned the reputation of being the best of the best and carried a lot more clout than Eagles.

 

My observation of how our lodge lost it luster was the adults, who were elected in the OA while they were adult leaders, became the advisers. They simply took on too much of an active role instead of an adviser role. Kind of the same trend we saw with Patrol Method. 

 

Barry

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Who considered arrowmen to be the "special forces of scouts" or "the best of the best" and carrying more clout than eagles?

 

My unit never participated in the OA because of the cultural appropriation thing.  We certainly didn't feel that arrowmen were better scouts.

 

I think this self-congratulatory thing that many arrowmen do is a real turn-off.

 

If the OA wants to have a future in scouting, I think it needs to see itself as a vehicle for cheerful service, and not as an honor society with bragging rights.

Edited by David CO

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My unit never participated in the OA because of the cultural appropriation thing.  We certainly didn't feel that arrowmen were better scouts.

 

I think this self-congratulatory thing that many arrowmen do is a real turn-off.

A reality of just about all youth programs in our culture is that the adults drive the vision and activities for the youth. So the activities troop adults allow for their scouts' (lets say OA) are dictated and limited by the adults' biases and prejudices. 

 

As for how we felt about Arrowmen, you simply didn't experience the OA program in our area during the 1960s and 70s. Only two scouts per troop (age 14 or older) could be voted each year as a candidate by their peers. Typically those two very experienced scouts were respected equally as much for their humility of servanthood as they were for their leadership and backwoods skills. Hardly self-congratulatory types. 

 

Barry

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I find it interesting that you would describe my Chartered Organization's decision to not participate in cultural appropriation as adult bias and prejudices.

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