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Eagle94-A1

Has the OA Lost It's Luster?

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Please give an example.

 

Well, you're the one who started all this talk on this thread about the OA being the "best of the best."  Are you telling me that you are not a member of the OA?  If that is the case, then I will withdraw my remark.

 

I agree that testimonials from outside the OA would be more meaningful than self-praising by OA members.

Edited by David CO

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Maybe I should have been clearer when I posted my comments regarding "best of the best." In my troop growing up,  the Arrowmen were looked up to as the best the troop had to offer because they were. The non-Arrowmen in the troop really did looked up to them and tried to model their behaviors. Those not elected, like me the first two years I was eligible, strived to  imitate them and give back to the troop. Once I got in, I understood why they humbly gave back to the troop. The Arrowman didn't think they were better or acted as if they were better than everyone else. Rather they knew they had an obligation to serve the troop, and did so. The Arrowman were looked up to by the non-Arrowmen.

 

As for Arrowman lamenting the members are no longer the "best of the best," I think we old fogeys remember when the OA was an Society of Honor Campers who humbly and cheerfully did lots of grunt work at the various camps to keep them operational at little to no cost to the council. We had obligations and duties to serve our units, districts, and councils, and took those responsibilities seriously. Our early leaders created a way to try and prevent elitism with having only a unit's members vote for candidate from the troop instead of OA members voting. And elections were done to a stricter standard than today's standard not as a show of elitism, but rather to make sure folks who did get elected into the OA fully knew the expectations and obligations of service would be expected of them.

 

Yes we had sash and dash back in the day. Heck I admit I was one after I got Brotherhood and didn't' get back involved until college. But part of that was frustration at showing up to meetings and events, and being the only person, or one with one other usually from my troop, being there.

 

As for posting in a public forum, I did so because I was hoping this situation was not nationwide. I admit I was depressed about the situation and was hoping to get some cheering up. Yes, I know there are challenges. Yes I have my opinions on why those challenges are occuring. But I was hoping I was wrong. Apparently problems are all over. Maybe we should focus on trying to solve them. I know I would love for elections to go back to the pre1990 rules. But i do not think that will happy in today's "Everyone gets a trophy" mentality our society has today.

 

Regarding cultural appropriation and the OA. that topic has come up over and over again. Check out some of my previous posts on the topic. As you can guess, you may be surprised how much the OA has helped to preserve the culture, as well as provide advocates for Native causes.

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Okay, so here's a for-instance that makes me take back my previous post:

 

That venturer I was telling you about is now having second thoughts and wondering if he should cancel his ordeal weekend so he can attend our backpacking trip. It is possible to attend a different one in our lodge, so I told him to look up the lodge advisor's number and explain his situation.

 

And no, it's not about the girls. So far none have signed up.

 

In my day, I could not imagine postponing such a weekend for anything. In fact, I turned down an invitation to a school dance and watching the Pirates in the World Series (yes, kids, it used to happen) with Dad for a rainy, cold, autumn weekend of "cheerful service."  One scout brought a radio and the outlet outside the trading post was working, and winds stayed under 50, so it turned out to be a good weekend.

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I always had a love-hate relationship with the OA.

 

As a scout, in my troop, they were the older boys that were looked up to, and did some service work at the summer camp - but I did not know much beyond that.

 

When I was elected and completed the ordeal, I really began to understand what they stood for, but it was complicated by the fact that most of their activity revolved around the summer camp(s), and our troop did not attend our council's camp.  When I was elected, I ordealed and joined the lodge for the council for the camp we went to.  I did the camp service, but did not attend other meetings.

 

As the Program director for that same camp, a few year later (+/- 1990), I became very frustrated.  The youth OA members on the staff were very clique-ish, which was not good for team building.  While the Lodge did have a fantastic dance team, that put on a performance one evening each week of camp - by that time, the other activities of the Lodge at the youth level seemed ineffective, and they were not able to field enough arrowmen for an event they traditionally did for closing campfires. 

 

While there were many very good and dedicated adult advisors involved - it was a youth led and run program and with their leadership at that time it was not a really strong program beyond the dance team.

 

All of that said, however, For the boys that did really embrace their role in the OA, I think it did do a lot to help older scout retention, as service back to their home troop was (effectively) a requirement.  My observations have also been that youth members that embraced their role in the OA and took on Lodge, Area, and Regional youth leadership roles have been some of the strongest and best leaders (youth and in adult life) that I have ever known.  It is one thing to SPL a troop of 30-40 scouts, it is quite another to Section Chief for dozens of lodges and hundreds of arrowmen.  These Scouts became true leaders.  While my experience is limited, just about anyone I know who has been a Lodge chief or higher has been a great leader - with Clan leaders or regular members, my experience is they are about the same as other Scouts.

 

These days ... I pay my dues and may actually start attending/visiting meetings if my son is eventually elected by his troop (and needs transportation anyway), but until then, I'm just another adult, and I have enough unit and council jobs as it is.  I do participate in their service projects when I can.  The OA helped to staff the History of Scouting trail out in Washington DC, so after years of participating with the troop/pack, I also served as a location guide for that event.

 

I am currently a Brotherhood member - have been since the late 80s, and since I do not plan to become involved in the AO adult leadership enough to be considered for Vigil, I am content.  In Venn diagram form, the Vigils I know are some of the best scouters (and scouts) I know, but I also know a lot of great Scouters (and Scouts) who are not in the OA at all.

 

We are usually able to get an OA team to do the Arrow of Light ceremonies for our pack - although other than the costumes themselves, that seem more of a function of the troop we ask than the OA lodge.  But the ceremony is impressive and inspires our transitioning Webelos.

 

Just like with Troops or Pack in general, I think Some OA groups are strong and accomplish a lot, and others struggle just to exist.  There is a lot of value to be had from the program, but I do not look down on units (or youth) that do not participate - it may not match their needs or bring value to their program.

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Just another perspective, and worth what you're paying.

 

As a scout I was in the OA. I'm fairly sure this was the largest lodge in the world (transatlantic council) and we were spread out so much I didn't do much with them and really didn't know what the OA was about. The glory days that others talk about I never saw. I don't doubt their stories.

 

Now I'm the SM. My scouts take the meaning of the OA to heart much better than the adults. With a dozen scouts eligible in a troop of 50, we still only nominate 2 or 3 scouts a year. They really are the most honorable in the troop. Unfortunately they don't do much. There's a critical mass needed at the chapter level and it isn't there.

 

I've never seen any back slapping from the scouts in the OA. I have seen it from a few adults but not recently.

 

I really like the idea of the OA. It provides another outlet for leadership. I've had scouts that weren't meshing with the troop go to the OA and find their niche. Unfortunately it has an uphill battle. The two things going against the OA are the lack of time the scouts have and the lack of leadership experience at the troop level. My guess is that there is more need for leadership in the OA than at a troop, so if the troops are hurting then the chapters are going to be worse off. That's what seems to be going on in my neck of the woods.

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Interesting thread, oddly timed.  I'm an SM for a newer troop (August was the beginning of our 2nd years).

 

We're mostly a younger troop, about half are 11, the other half spread pretty evenly in the 12-15 range (well, maybe the older group is weighted younger a bit, but we do have two fifteen year olds).

 

So, we've been asked if we're going to provide two Scouts for the OA "ordeal" in Nov.  I myself was only a Scout for about year, in a very rural area, so never heard of OA or any of that stuff back then, don't know much about it now.

 

For the record, as David said, they do self-describe as being "the best of the best" and the "scouting honor society."  Knowing some of the Scouts in the group, I try to keep my expression a bit guarded.

 

So, if the OA group is not really all that impressive, is it worth seeing if the Troop wants to present some Scouts for membership?  Or not worth bothering with?  The OA reps (Scouts) have been telling us for ten months or so that they'd be sending reps to our Troop meeting to introduce OA to our Scouts, but never happened.  Instead they presented to the Scouters in a RT mtg.

 

Thank you for your time,

 

-CL

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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.

 

So the youth made the decision after researching and understanding the issue?

 

I really don't see the difference between saying "I am the best of the best" and saying "I am better than all of you."  It sounds pretty much the same to me.

 

Most of the youth OA members I meet are the "sash and dash" types who only join the order so they can wear the pocket patch.  Are they really a small minority of the youth membership of the OA?  I don't think so.

 

Even with the boys who stay active in the OA, I think the numbers would drop off dramatically if they couldn't wear a pocket patch.  

 

I do think OA is basically a mutual admiration society.

 

You obviously haven't met people who are itruly nvolved in the OA.  Yeah, the pocket patch is cool (our Lodge designed the first one), but to say people who are involved are there only for the pocket patch is absurd.  You can keep the pocket patch on if you just pay your dues and I doubt anyone will forcibly make you take it off if you stop paying your dues.  More than anything else, the lodge flap serves as a conversation starter -- hey, your in OA too?  

 

So, if the OA group is not really all that impressive, is it worth seeing if the Troop wants to present some Scouts for membership?  Or not worth bothering with?  The OA reps (Scouts) have been telling us for ten months or so that they'd be sending reps to our Troop meeting to introduce OA to our Scouts, but never happened.  Instead they presented to the Scouters in a RT mtg.

 

 

My son loves OA for one reason - the guys in OA take scouting seriously.  They love it just like he does.  The first OA event after his ordeal that he went to was a Conclave.  He came back so energized and excited and made a bunch of new friends.  We're going to help out for a couple of hours at a Council Camporee tonight (our Troop isn't attending the Camporee) and going to our Lodge's Fall Fellowship next weekend.  That event has been on his calendar since he did his ordeal in May. To my son, OA is about fellowship.

 

As our Troop's OA Representative, he is working to make OA much more visible by announcing nominations, Ordeal members and Brotherhood members at the Troop's Court of Honor.  That being said, we've got a couple of guys from our Troop who didn't do the Ordeal and who are likely to be Sash and Dash, but there are two older guys who stouck around to become Brotherhood members in the past couple of years.  My son will be the third from our Troop to recently get Brotherhood and I suspect he will run for an OA Chapter level office next year. To my son,  OA is about being truly boy-led and bringing that back to your Troop.

 

My son is one of the guys that is always there to help when there is an Eagle Project or Service Project.  As a Life Scout, he doesn't need service hours for rank advancement but he does it anyway.  Since joining OA, he has really started to live the motto of Cheerful Service.  

 

Although I've heard it be called "Scouting's Honor Society", I can tell you my son sees it as a call to action rather than an honor.  There is a call out ceremony, where your name is called and you step forward.  At the Ordeal, you are asked to commit to fellowship, leadership and cheerful service both through your Lodge but also back in your Troop.  

 

Are they the "Best of the Best" -- I've never heard that expression, but knowing the way our Lodge works - that wouldn't be a recognition of what you have done but a challenge to guide what you should do.

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As a scout our troop never really participated in the OA. I do recall at one point someone I didnt recognize come to a meeting and there was an election. Seemed like a popularity contest at the time. I had friends in other troops who would mention it at summer camp, and recall they had to leave camp after only a week (we went to summer camp for 2 weeks) to go to their OA lodge. Even during camp they had to leave their patrol to go to some ceremony. I don't recall ever feelimg like I was missing out on any big scouting adventure for not belonging, on the contrary.

 

As an outsider to the OA, I see it as additional competition for the patrol/troop. Even years ago, there was a finite amount of time available to boys for scouting. I saw/see the OA as taking the boy away from his patrol/troop.It aapeared to be an obligation which took away from my friends' scouting participation. Anyway, that was my experience and nothing I have seen as an adult has shown it to be any different now.

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Hedgehog, I have said, several times already, the decision to not participate in OA was made by my Chartered Organization in response to the cultural appropriation issue.  

 

Even in the most youth-lead units, the Chartered Organization has the right to set policy, particularly if the actions of the unit might be seen to reflect badly on the CO.

 

The reason I found the remark interesting is because my CO made the decision to avoid conduct that might be perceived as racial prejudice.  It seems to me that my CO is being accused of prejudiced behavior for choosing to avoid prejudiced behavior.

 

Sometimes, you just can't win either way.  You're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't.

Edited by David CO

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Hedgehog, I have said, several times already, the decision to not participate in OA was made by my Chartered Organization in response to the cultural appropriation issue.  

 

Even in the most youth-lead units, the Chartered Organization has the right to set policy, particularly if the actions of the unit might be seen to reflect badly on the CO.

 

The reason I found the remark interesting is because my CO made the decision to avoid conduct that might be perceived as racial prejudice.  It seems to me that my CO is being accused of prejudiced behavior for choosing to avoid prejudiced behavior.

 

Sometimes, you just can't win either way.  You're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't.

 

Sorry to hear your CO doesn't approve of the OA, especially for the reason they are using. If they looked into the OA's history they would see how the OA has served as a means of preserving and in some cases rediscovering elements of Native culture. There are a lot of former and current Arrowmen with an AIA background who have become advocates for Native issues.

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Sorry to hear your CO doesn't approve of the OA, especially for the reason they are using. If they looked into the OA's history they would see how the OA has served as a means of preserving and in some cases rediscovering elements of Native culture. There are a lot of former and current Arrowmen with an AIA background who have become advocates for Native issues.

 

I hear you.  I was in the Lone Scouts and the Lone Indian Fellowship, and we actually did more cultural appropriation than the OA.  We used to say something very similar to what you are saying now.

 

BSA took all the NA stuff out of the Lone Scouts years ago, and today, Lone Scouting bears little resemblance to the program I went through.  

 

Even if it weren't for the cultural appropriation issues, we couldn't do the same things today because of the youth protection issues.  We sometimes wore outfits that left us nearly naked.  They were authentic.  Too authentic, as a matter of fact.

 

We simply can't do that stuff anymore. Those days are gone.  They're gone for the Lone Scouts.  They are soon to be gone for the OA.  

Edited by David CO

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Interesting thread, oddly timed.  I'm an SM for a newer troop (August was the beginning of our 2nd years).

 ...

 

So, if the OA group is not really all that impressive, is it worth seeing if the Troop wants to present some Scouts for membership?  Or not worth bothering with?  The OA reps (Scouts) have been telling us for ten months or so that they'd be sending reps to our Troop meeting to introduce OA to our Scouts, but never happened.  Instead they presented to the Scouters in a RT mtg.

...

@@hmscouting, it's a good sign that scouts are representing. The bottom line: tell the reps that at this point, if they want to really impress the scouts, bring the lodge chief to a troop meeting or a campout where most of your boys attend.

First timers need to hear it from somebody who cares.

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At the risk of being snarky, does the CO. also refrain from a beer on St Paddys day?

 

St. Patrick's Day is actually a church holiday.  It is appropriate for Catholics to celebrate any saint's holiday regardless of their ethnic background.

 

There are a few Native American saints.  I have seen Catholic schools have celebrations in honor of these saints, complete with clothing and decorations appropriate to the saint's era and ethnicity.

 

I would not consider this cultural appropriation.  Neither would my CO.

 

What the OA is doing is something completely different.  

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Sorry if this moves everything over to I&P but is cultural appropriation always wrong?

 

Jazz is now very popular in Europe. Considering jazz started as African American was it being appropriated by white Europeans somehow bad? There's no doubt the Europeans very much respect and admire jazz so I don't see a problem. I understand that people could use a minority's culture as a way to insult them, and that would be wrong, but what about when they borrow some cultural aspect because they respect it? When I was a scout I worked at summer camp and had to teach Indian Lore MB. I didn't know much about it but a guy that had been raised in a Native American family sat me down and taught me quite a bit one night. I will never forget that night. I gained a great deal of respect for this man's culture. I don't see how that is wrong.

 

Just to lighten this up, bagels  in the US originated from Polish Jewish immigrants. Does this mean everyone else shouldn't eat them?

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