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WisconsinMomma

Son invited to OA. What does it all mean?

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Hi Everyone,

My 14 year old First Class scout son was invited and voted into OA from our Troop.  From what I heard, many scouts from our Troop were elected into OA.  

My husband's attitude (and son's) out of the gate was -- it's just more work.

However, I was talking with another Scouter who said that when he was a youth he never had the opportunity and it's special.  So he should at least go to the Ordeal?  He also said that whole families can end up in OA and with 3 boys, it's possible they could all be in together, in time. 

How can we help infom and/or encourage our son?  Thanks!

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WM,

First, you should make sure your son knows this is a very significant honor.  The Order of the Arrow, as the honor camping society of the BSA is for those who have been elected by their peers as showing skills, leadership and Scout spirit.  It’s kind of like the BSA version of the National Honor Society.  The experience will likely be very meaningful and he will see and experience it very differently from other Scouting activities- in a very good way.  For many Scouts- myself included, they were ready to drop out and the Order of the Arrow gave them an entirely new perspective and opened their eyes to ways to serve their communities and have a lot of fun and fellowship doing it.  Order of the Arrow in my case gave me the chance to meet Scouts from all over, I became a vice chief and learned a lot about organizing big camp work crews, and got me involved in summer camp staff.  No question, I would have probably left Scouting otherwise and missed out on a lot!  Tell him to be bold and go for it!

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1 hour ago, WisconsinMomma said:

How can we help inform and/or encourage our son?  Thanks!

I have declined many honors. I'm sure you have too.  We simply don't have the time or the inclination to accept all of them. This is especially true if the honors have duties/work/cost attached to them.

The same is true for your son. Support his decision.

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I was elected for the OA in my troop, but I declined it. It depends on the scout, see what your scout wants to do. I’ve heard our lodge isn’t the best which also steered my decision.

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2 hours ago, WisconsinMomma said:

My husband's attitude (and son's) out of the gate was -- it's just more work...................

How can we help infom and/or encourage our son?  Thanks!

It’s an honor to be invited. If your family only sees it as just more work, you’re not ready yet. Give it another year so husband and son can learn what it’s all about. Then they can make an informed decision.

Barry

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Posted (edited)

Is it more work?  Yes.  Is it worth it?  IMHO Absolutely. 

In my neck o the woods the white sash with a red Arrow is considered to be quite an honor. It means that the one who wears it is looked up to by the scouts in his troop, as an example  of what a scout should be.

Three of my son's were elected to the order, and went to their ordeal.  Two of them loved it, made many new friends, went to lots of chapter and lodge events, some just for fun, some for training, and took a great deal of new found enthusiasm back to their troop.  Their brother didn't really like the Order, and dropped out after a few months.

I guess I'm saying it will depend on your son, as well as the lodge/chapter into which he is inducted. Some are great full of cheerful scouts who find great satisfaction in serving others. Who enjoy the company of other older scouts who are likewise dedicated to improving their respective troops. It's not an uncommon sight to see 3 or 4 SPLs sitting at a table, talking over some common problem.

  Sadly a few lodges are just awful.    Some are just ok. Hmm,sounds like scout troops.

I would encourage him to go for it.  its not like he is signing a binding contract.

Oldscout

Ps. I see that Barry makes a very good point. Does your son see this as an honor and a privilege ?  Or just another patch?

Edited by Oldscout448
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My older children were both in the OA. It was what kept them in Scouting until age 18, and for the older one led to joining Venturing for another couple years after that primarily in order to remain engaged in the OA. The younger one is now considering becoming a Scouter. They LOVED the OA. They loved the camping and the community service. They signed up for every OA activity that was offered, which was not true of all the other Scout opportunities. Neither one became Eagle Scouts, but in all honesty I think their activity in the OA was more valuable to them in the long run than earning Eagle. I'm not claiming that is broadly true, I'm only talking about my own kids here. 

I would gently encourage, but not push, the child to give it a try. He doesn't have to remain active if it's not for him. If he really doesn't want to even try, don't make him. But I think if he does try it, he won't regret it. 

Yes, it is "more work." In my experience as a parent of OA Scouts, it's the best and most satisfying work they could possibly be doing.

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WisconsinMomma,

 

First, your son should not have been nominated to be a candidate in the order, without his knowledge.

Second, his scoutmaster (or other appropriate OA adult) should have talked with him in a scoutmaster's conference about the OA, and it's responsibilities in advance of an election.

Third, your son should have had the opportunity to talk it over with his parent(s) in making this decision before the election and turn down the nomination if he chose.

Fourth, an OA Election Team should have held the election and answered any questions from any of the attending scouts (members or not), before the actual election.

Personal note: I'm no longer involved, as I was the long time (couldn't get anybody else to step up) chapter ceremonial team advisor, and all ceremonies (AOL, Crossovers, and Call-Outs)

        no longer exist and/or have had the native American culture removed. Brotherhood, cheerfulness, and service, have always been important to me as a scout before the OA. It was just

        magnified when I was chosen to be apart of what was an honorable program. It is now just a service group. Nothing special. I continue my service to scouting as a committee member

        for a venture unit, and working on  a maintenance committee at one of our council camps. Yes, we have fun. Scouting is simply becoming a family camping club. Nothing more. Every-

        body can come and participate.

Softly falls the light of day...the vigil fire has gone out.

sst3rd

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40 minutes ago, sst3rd said:

WisconsinMomma,

 

First, your son should not have been nominated to be a candidate in the order, without his knowledge.

Second, his scoutmaster (or other appropriate OA adult) should have talked with him in a scoutmaster's conference about the OA, and it's responsibilities in advance of an election.

Third, your son should have had the opportunity to talk it over with his parent(s) in making this decision before the election and turn down the nomination if he chose.

Fourth, an OA Election Team should have held the election and answered any questions from any of the attending scouts (members or not), before the actual election.

Personal note: I'm no longer involved, as I was the long time (couldn't get anybody else to step up) chapter ceremonial team advisor, and all ceremonies (AOL, Crossovers, and Call-Outs)

        no longer exist and/or have had the native American culture removed. Brotherhood, cheerfulness, and service, have always been important to me as a scout before the OA. It was just

        magnified when I was chosen to be apart of what was an honorable program. It is now just a service group. Nothing special. I continue my service to scouting as a committee member

        for a venture unit, and working on  a maintenance committee at one of our council camps. Yes, we have fun. Scouting is simply becoming a family camping club. Nothing more. Every-

        body can come and participate.

Softly falls the light of day...the vigil fire has gone out.

sst3rd

Not quite yet it aint.  At least not everywhere.   I aim to keep feeding it as long as I can find sticks.  

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Once upon a time, the OA was quite the honor. For some, being an Arrowman meant more to them than being an Eagle Scout. There were limits to how many Scouts could be voted in, basically 1/2 the number on the ballot, and it was common for Scouts to wait two or three years to get in. Being elected by your peers meant that they thought you were worthy.

Is it work? Absolutely. Standing joke use to be the 3 W's on every OA patch stand for "WORK, WORK, WORK." I have busted my tail with various projects the OA was needed for.

Is it  educational? Absolutely. I have been able to get training on various leadership and American Indian Affairs stuff. For the folks screaming "Cultural Appropriation," I would recommend looking at some of the old works on Native American Culture. They may be surprised to find they were written by Arrowmen, They may be further surprised that it was a way for Native Americans to keep some of their culture alive since it was illegal for them to do some things. They may be surprised at the numbers of Arrowman who have helped First Nations in their quest for state and federal recognition,  relearning lost arts, and in one case I am personally aware of, language.

Is it fun? Absolutely. Some of my best memories in Scouting are events with the OA, from local lodge events, to section conclaves, to a regional American Indian Seminar, to NOAC.

Is it a way to keep older Scouts and young ASMs active? Absolutely.  Sadly when I got in the OA, the chapter was virtually dead, and I was not active. It was 4 years later and a chance encounter with a friend that I found out that my chapter was getting restarted. I got involved in American Indian Affairs, first ceremonies, and later dance. Using AIA we rebuilt the chapter, and insured growth of the chapter because we were inspiring Cub Scouts and Scouts with our ceremonies.

But as others said, it is your son's choice. My oldest son, the son who helped make some of the stuff the OA is still using for their ceremonies, has no interest in the OA. Every time there is an election, he declines to be placed on the ballot. I am hoping that the new troop, which is extremely active with the OA will change his mind. 

I too kept the Vigil.

Dances with Fools.

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Posted (edited)

 WWW means work, work, work!  Lol

When I joined the ceremonies team I was told "  If you think you worked hard a a candidate,  you ain't seen nothin yet"  I thought it had to be an exaggeration. I soon found out otherwise, but the OA was the highlight of my scouting life.  Even more inspiring than watching the sunrise while standing on the Tooth of Time. I too still keep the Vigil.

We seen to have gone far afield from the OP here.  Sorry W.M. passions run a bit high for a lot of us.  

Edited by Oldscout448
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A lot of good opinions here and I'll add mine.  Encourage your son to give it a fair try and decide based on his own experience rather than on hearsay from others.

I was pretty active for the first couple of years after I was called out (as an adult).  I earned brotherhood and went to all of the events.  But after a while I lost interest in the things our lodge/chapter are doing so I stopped going to most things.  On the other hand, I have had several Scouts in my Troop like @Setonfan - they were close to dropping out and OA gave them new challenges with other Scouts their own age.

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My son was in the OA and really enjoyed it and made significant growth as a young adult. He took charge of his time there and performed as an elangomat for a lot of the ordeals he attended. He took a bad situation with the ceremony team lead and made a very mature choice. And he finished out his time doing AOL crossover ceremonies with a different ceremony lead before that changed.

Recently, I was elected and I've completed my candidate/ordeal weekend. I have no idea what I'll be doing, but my heart is in giving service where/when I can. I am hopeful that my son will surprise me like I did him. He did not know it was me sashing him at his brotherhood ceremony until it was over. But my son will be in college when that comes about, so who knows. 

As others have stated, OA can be an awesome experience, but each scouts/scouters experience varies. It is worth giving it a try and if not to your liking you don't have to continue. You can even take a break and try later on. It's there for your entire life to come back to. I've met a few scouters who joined as scouts and came back when their scout joined. 

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On a  practical level, being an active Arrowman provides experience planning activities and projects with people at some distance from your troop. Time practicing that regularly makes you a more skilled employ.

For example, Son #2 did only a couple of things with O/A and a few more with our council Venturing Officers Association. This prepared him to work with total strangers to accomplish projects in college -- both in class and in extracurricular activities. Now in his internships, staff are letting the factory owners know that they think he is the best project manager of the students they've ever had.

Like most things in life, you get out of it in proportion to what you put into it.

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On 3/31/2019 at 7:16 AM, WisconsinMomma said:

Hi Everyone,

My 14 year old First Class scout son was invited and voted into OA from our Troop.  From what I heard, many scouts from our Troop were elected into OA.  

My husband's attitude (and son's) out of the gate was -- it's just more work.

However, I was talking with another Scouter who said that when he was a youth he never had the opportunity and it's special.  So he should at least go to the Ordeal?  He also said that whole families can end up in OA and with 3 boys, it's possible they could all be in together, in time. 

How can we help infom and/or encourage our son?  Thanks!

Both of my sons were in OA.  The oldest was Vigil Honors (highest honor you can get in OA), the youngest was Brotherhood (middle honor).  Your boy needs to talk to other OA members in the troop to figure out if he wants to be in OA.  My sons loved it. They got a chance to camp as just fellow campers, without having to worry about the younger boys all the time, as they would during Troop campouts.  Based on talking with a former SM in our troop, he wouldn't recommend just going to the Ordeal if you have no intention of being in OA--he calls those people "Sash and dashers."

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