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Eagle94-A1

Has the OA Lost It's Luster?

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Scout leaders, if your scout wears an OA flap, check to see if he is still eligable to wear it.  If not, remind him of his oblegation to serve his lodge, or make him remove it from his uniform.  Remember, lodge flaps are official BSA insignias, issued by the lodges as regnition of continued service to the council.  Help the lodge help your units.

 

I have enough to do, thank you. And an odd sentiment for one whose byline is "Let not the uniform police get you down".

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In our neck of the woods the Council Office knows little about OA; the Lodge knows whose dues are paid up. We just guilt members into paying. We have some healthy competition about boys wanting to be active enough to get Brotherhood. 

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So in our Chapter, the boys who are active are going to go around to the Troops and run the elections.  A step up from adults coming in and running them.  The Chapter meeting next month is bowling - my son already has it on my calendar.  We have a day of service at a community park in December that sounds like a lot of fun and our banquet in February.  The Lodge has a ceremonies team and just started a drum team.,  The level of youth leardership is great.  My son thinks that OA is one of the best parts of scouting.

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O/A and Venturing have the same challenges. Their target youth have available to them:

  • a profusion of scholastic activities, competing non-scholastic activities, and financial pressures,
  • the ability to self-select your associations on grounds that don't require physical presence,
  • a la carte activities put on by adults who have the time to dote, and (you all will love me for this one)
  • bloated troop committees who channel adults to dote on their unit and nothing else.

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OA kept my son#2 in scouring and got him fired up on Boy-Led. Now he is SPL and applying the lessons and fun he learned in our Lodge.

 

OA kept your son in "scouring"?  That is an ordeal.

 

I do like to keep the units cookware clean and shiny.  If more of the OA boys were kept in "scouring", I might consider changing some of my views about OA.

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David CO and I often bump heads here on the forum, but I thought his comment about Tampa's typo was kinda funny, not worth a ding.  Sometimes a little levity goes a long way.

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David CO and I often bump heads here on the forum, but I thought his comment about Tampa's typo was kinda funny, not worth a ding.  Sometimes a little levity goes a long way.

My sis-in-law once gave a plaque from Boston with the saying, "A good pun deserves to be drawn an quoted."

Not sure how that translates in the age of +1/-1 buttons.

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Some of the younger scouts still think my puns are funny.  The older ones usually issue a muffled tone of dissent.  They've groan used to my jokes.

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I am a severe dyslexic and a horrible speller. My dad, an english professor type, used to return my Father's Day cards with all the misspellings circled in red. One year I got a copy of the Bad Spellers Dictionary in return. 

 

There is a lot of scouring in OA; my son and I always pull kitchen duty LOL. 

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I am a severe dyslexic and a horrible speller. My dad, an english professor type, used to return my Father's Day cards with all the misspellings circled in red. One year I got a copy of the Bad Spellers Dictionary in return. 

 

There is a lot of scouring in OA; my son and I always pull kitchen duty LOL. 

My dyslexic son taught me two things recently:

 

1) If life gives you melons, you might be dyslexic

2) Dyslexics are teople poo. 

 

;) He loves finding all the dyslexic jokes and puns. 

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I think qwaze hit on what seems to me to be the biggest challenge facing the OA today: competition.  If you think about the demographic the OA targets (highly motivated Scouts passionate about service, leadership and outdoorsmanship) and then all of the other activities which target that same demographic (camp staff, NYLT staff, heavy involvement in troop leadership, district/council events and training, church youth groups, school clubs and societies, etc), you need to look at how the OA stacks up.

 

I personally have no great love, nor any real problem with the OA, I think I'm pretty neutral to the organization.  But I will retell a "case study" of two youth from my unit who made an honest attempt at working with the OA, and their feedback.  They attended one of the twice-yearly fellowship weekends, and were part of the group performing one or more of the ceremonies.  The ceremony involved them standing barefoot in a muddy field, on a rainy 50 degree fall evening, dressed in little more than a loincloth and feather headdress.  They described how these ceremonies, which are supposed to convey a feeling of mystery and spirituality, ended up just feeling... weird.  And uncomfortable and awkward.  But what they said next was more insightful - that the OA works so hard at creating this sense of mystery and awe, but when you peel through all of that, you find that there's really nothing behind the curtain.  The "cheerful service" usually amounts to doing menial chores around camp.  Which isn't to say there's anything wrong with helping with simple camp maintenance, but rather that there's a mismatch between what the OA tries to build up, and what's actually there.

 

One of these young men got involved in summer camp staff, the other in NYLT staff - but they reported similar experiences in both of those programs.  There is some mystery and ritual and tradition associated with camp staff, but its not a primary element of the experience, nor it is used to shroud the actual substance of the job away from public view.  Its just a way to build camaraderie and tradition.  They felt a healthier connection what that sort of ritual, compared to how the OA worked.  The job description itself was transparent and straightforward.  And, most importantly - it wasn't menial labor, er, I mean "cheerful service."  Their staff jobs required hard work, but also real skill and leadership to accomplish.  The kids felt much more invested in these jobs, because they were a bit of challenge that they could grow into, and felt much more proud of themselves when they were able to complete them successfully.

 

I personally don't have an opinion one way or the other on the cultural appropriation question - but I will suggest that the Native American spirituality stuff just doesn't resonate with the current generation. Maybe it did in the past, but my observations recently are the kids find it awkward, and don't really know how they are supposed to react or feel.  I don't think they're generally offended by it, I just think they don't feel a real connection with any of it.

 

So I guess this is a long way of saying, yes, the OA has lost its luster.  Partially because the current program generally doesn't resonate with today's youth, partially because there is too much competition for these kids' time both inside and outside of the BSA, and partially due to some poor examples of how specific chapters and councils run their OA programs.  With that said, I want to be clear that I understand that the OA can be a valuable part of Scouting, and I personally know several Scouts and Scouters who have contributed a lot to the OA, and credit the OA with a lot of positive experiences.  Goes to show you that in an organization as large as ours, different people will find purpose and enjoyment in different types of activities.  But, big picture, I think the OA needs to engage in a drastic adjustment of course to stay healthy and relevant for much longer.

Edited by jwest09

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Within the past 5 years.  And its entirely possible that they or I are incorrectly describing the costume.  I remember they were more hung up on being scantily clothed and barefoot on a cold night standing in a muddy field.  

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