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Yeah, I flip flop all the time on OA.  There is value in the OA elections and ceremony.  It causes lots of reflection.  It causes lots of pain too ... mainly from adults and parents ... why didn't Timmy get in?   ...  Well, maybe Timmy should be a #### in the ###.  .... I'm in a flaky mood right now ....  

But the fact is except those scouts running OA, I see little practical use for OA.  The elections and ceremonies teach lessons.  But the actual day to day activities?  ... I don't see.  ... but that doesn't make OA meaningless.   Maybe it is the election and ceremonies.  That's the value OA provides.

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As I recall my days in OA, the Scoutmaster begins the process by developing a list of scouts who are qualified for election, based on rank, # of nights camped, and last but not least, "Scout Spirit". 

Let me preface my comments by saying that as a youth, I was a Brotherhood member of the OA, and in my senior year was simultaneously SPL of my troop and editor of the Lodge newsletter, so I know from

My problem with OA today is that the program drivers (adult sponsors) don't plan a program where the activities practice growth toward the honor of serving others and camping. As a scout in the 70's,

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"Good evening, Scouts. I've asked your SPL for some time tonight to present a special event. an opportunity, I guess.   First I'd like to introduce  Jack Arrowsmith and  Jefferson Fletcher here. These Scouts are members of the Order of the Arrow. You may have heard of this piece of Scouting, maybe not.  Let me explain a little from my history....

Each of you Scouts know about earning rank and getting awarded stuff for things you do and accomplish.  Win the camporee competition?  Hike thru Philmont?  Canoe Northern Tier? You get a patch and bragging rights, right?  Well, the OA is a different thing, but kind of the same.... We want it to be a recognition that these Scouts have accomplished something and deserve a ... recognition.... 

The Order of the Arrow is sort of a club, but to join it, you have to be elected by the Scouts in your Troop.  They do the choosing.  It is meant as a recognition that the kids that are elected are deserving of that honor.  You Scouts know who helps you, who taught you, who got you thru that stormy night.  I may not, but you do.  Now, enough form me. Here, Jefferson, Jack,  , take the floor..... " 

 

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On 6/11/2021 at 3:12 AM, MGinLA said:

Part of the reason is that in their scouting experience, they have seen the OA as one of two things:  (1) free labor at Camporees; and (2) dancers in Indian costumes.   They have no interest in being either one, and are frankly uncomfortable with the racial overtones of the latter.

This^^^^^ and the rest...great post.  Would give it more Upvotes, if I could.

Like units, each lodge has it's own personality and culture...

Those with the least draw for that council's Scouts are what we term a "self-licking ice cream cone" (SLICC)  Some common themes among these are:

- The Lodge focusing more on being a "Native American Heritage Society", where dance teams, drum teams, pow-wows, and regalia become more important than the "thing of the spirit"  

- Councils using the OA as a set up and take down of their Summer Camp to avoid paying staff extra time to do this...to the point of telling the lodge that Ordeals must be scheduled as bookends to Summer Camp to accomplish this.

- Lodges putting out the message to unit leaders that they should consider what a Scout's contribution to the lodge will be when considering eligibility for OA election.  (Yes, this happens.)  An Arrowman's first duty is to his unit.  https://oa-bsa.org/article/thoughts-arrowmans-primary-duty

- Lodges which do no unit service, other than conduct elections.  You can generate a whole laundry list of possibilities for this, starting with producing the WTGCG mentioned elsewhere.  I know that some lodges even create Venturing Crews which are set up as units solely for the purpose of giving Arrowmen a place to register in order to meet the the "must be registered member" requirement. (anathema!)

- Lodges which do no community service events, but serve only themselves (or Scouting) through Fellowships, Ordeals, Camp Work Days, Conclaves, etc.

Those with the most draw do the opposite :)

 

 

 

 

Edited by InquisitiveScouter
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My problem with OA today is that the program drivers (adult sponsors) don't plan a program where the activities practice growth toward the honor of serving others and camping. As a scout in the 70's, young scouts learned quickly that Arrowmen where experts in the outdoors and they could ask any question for help. And, since serving was their other character traits, they were usually easy to approach and lacked the arrogance many of the older scouts had.

Frankly, the election process back then filtered out immature scouts and scouts who only wanted the Arrowmen status. Those are the main motivations I saw in scouts today.

I blame adults who don't understand the honorable traits of an Arrowmen, nor do they know how to develop program to practice those traits.

Arrowmen were the special forces of scouting in the early years. Now they have a cool pocket patch.

Barry

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I agree wholeheartedly with @InquisitiveScouter's SLICC assessment. While I used Native American ceremonies and dance to help restart several chapters, it was not the primary focus. the chapter did community service. The chapter did fun activities. We worked hard, and played harder.

But @Eagledadis also right. The pre-1990s election process with ratio charts showing how many eligible to how many on the ballot, did weed out a lot of Scouts who only thought of themselves. OA was truly the "special forces of Scouting." Somewhere along the way, it turned into numbers game. When the adults on the National OA Committee changed the election process, a lot of good Arrowmen were upset, because we recognized that it slowly destroy the OA because e folks no longer had to think about who was worthy. I didn't get in until my 3rd time eligible. Today it is unheard of someone not getting elected in my neck of the woods. Heck even folks who have said "I am not interested, take my name off the ballot, " have been elected.

And look at the change in Brotherhood requirements. It use to be 10 months, which meant for most folks a year. Now they can get Brotherhood in 6 months.

There are other changes in the OA I can rant on, but that needs to be a threading the members only area.

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11 minutes ago, InquisitiveScouter said:

Love this thought!  May I please use it freely without crediting you??😜😜😜

Yes, of course.

Barry

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I guess I've got a little different perspective. I saw little value in OA when I was a Scout in the late 70s/early 80s (Aloha Council). OA elections seemed to be a longevity or popularity award, in part because the new Scouts really didn't know who to vote for. The "Arrowmen" I saw were not necessarily the best at Scoutcraft and it was never the "Special Forces" of Scouting from what I could see. For that reason, I pulled my name from consideration as a Scout because I didn't want to take votes away from someone who did want to join the Lodge (I still seemed to get write-ins anyway).

I agreed to have my name submitted for OA as an adult and went through Ordeal because the Lodge at Pikes Peak Council seemed different, more akin to what OA was supposed to be. Never went past that in part because I never got the handbook and in part because I was too busy to bother with tests just to get a different sash -- but then, I judge people by what they do, not what they wear or have on their walls.

I supported OA at Pikes Peak and the other councils I went to and would never have refused to hold an election. Like most other things, you can get from OA only as much as you put into it. OTOH, I completely understand why some Scouts don't wish to join it.

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29 minutes ago, HICO_Eagle said:

I guess I've got a little different perspective. I saw little value in OA when I was a Scout in the late 70s/early 80s (Aloha Council). OA elections seemed to be a longevity or popularity award, in part because the new Scouts really didn't know who to vote for. The "Arrowmen" I saw were not necessarily the best at Scoutcraft and it was never the "Special Forces" of Scouting from what I could see. For that reason, I pulled my name from consideration as a Scout because I didn't want to take votes away from someone who did want to join the Lodge (I still seemed to get write-ins anyway).

Like most of the youth programs, OA is the vision of the adults in the moment. I have seen OA programs cross the spectrum of what the handbook says they are. Sadly, many adults see their part in the program as the key to the image and they take out the honor of the OA.

As scoutmaster, I supported the elections, but stayed away from the program because I didn't care for the adult side of the program. That being said, the scouts in my troop were in leadership roles for about 10 years. Since our troop wasn't involved with OA other than holding elections, I attribute the success of our scouts with our boy run program because most of those scouts were the main youth troop leaders as well. Because of our scouts doing so well in the OA leadership, I was asked to be the adult sponsor. I declined because I knew I would have to spend a lot of my time turning it into the program I knew back in the 70's, and I didn't have that kind of time. I want Scouts to see themselves as heros by serving others. But, that requires a process of activities that build scouts to like themselves when they are servants for others. Adults don't seem to know how to do that much anymore.

Barry

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On 6/14/2021 at 9:48 AM, InquisitiveScouter said:

This^^^^^ and the rest...great post.  Would give it more Upvotes, if I could.

Like units, each lodge has it's own personality and culture...

Those with the least draw for that council's Scouts are what we term a "self-licking ice cream cone" (SLICC)  Some common themes among these are:

- The Lodge focusing more on being a "Native American Heritage Society", where dance teams, drum teams, pow-wows, and regalia become more important than the "thing of the spirit"  

- Councils using the OA as a set up and take down of their Summer Camp to avoid paying staff extra time to do this...to the point of telling the lodge that Ordeals must be scheduled as bookends to Summer Camp to accomplish this.

- Lodges putting out the message to unit leaders that they should consider what a Scout's contribution to the lodge will be when considering eligibility for OA election.  (Yes, this happens.)  An Arrowman's first duty is to his unit.  https://oa-bsa.org/article/thoughts-arrowmans-primary-duty

- Lodges which do no unit service, other than conduct elections.  You can generate a whole laundry list of possibilities for this, starting with producing the WTGCG mentioned elsewhere.  I know that some lodges even create Venturing Crews which are set up as units solely for the purpose of giving Arrowmen a place to register in order to meet the the "must be registered member" requirement. (anathema!)

- Lodges which do no community service events, but serve only themselves (or Scouting) through Fellowships, Ordeals, Camp Work Days, Conclaves, etc.

Those with the most draw do the opposite :)

 

 

 

 

 

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We are in complete agreement except on one point.  I will contend that it can be extremely beneficial to have venture crews set up so that the 18 thru 20 crowd can continue to serve and lead. For example it's darned difficult to have the Lodge or chapter serve as camporee staff when most of the brothers, or sisters,  have an important role in their own troops, which should always be their priority. I've sent SPLs back to their troops more than once, even though we were short handed.

Many a 18 year old Eagle wants to continue his journey in the order, but his troop committee or SM isn't too keen on signing him up as a ASM.    I was one such once upon a time.

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7 hours ago, Oldscout448 said:

I will contend that it can be extremely beneficial to have venture crews set up so that the 18 thru 20 crowd can continue to serve and lead.

Agreed that that age range should have Venturing available, but I think my example may not have been clear.  The Crews I am talking about are really shadow organizations.  They exist solely to provide a registration home for older members of the OA.  Members of the Crew are OA members who need a unit to call home, but they do no actual Venturing program stuff other than support OA events. 

So, the unit exists on paper just to support the Order of the Arrow.  IMO, this is a reversal of the intended order of things.  The OA exists to support unit program (partially) through recognizing honor Scouts and promoting camping.  In the case here, the Scouts (and Scouters) must first be OA members before they can join the crew.  There is no unit program other than OA stuff.  I believe Dr. Goodman would not approve.

We have two ASMs and several Unit Scouter Reserves, or Unit College Scouter Reserves (all 18-20) who maintain memberships in the Troop and lend a great deal of time to the local Lodge.  They are not full-time Troop-focused, but help out the Troop when able.

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On 6/6/2021 at 1:08 PM, tnmule20 said:

I would never think about denying any Scout the opportunity to be in the Order of the Arrow. 

I think you are all missing the point.  

The Chartered Organization has an obligation to protect its children.  The CO can protect its children while they are participating in unit activities, but the CO has no control over OA.  The CO cannot protect its children at OA activities.

Why would a CO want to have a "pipeline" from its unit to some other program whose leadership and activities are totally outside the CO's control?  It doesn't make any sense.  I understand why OA would want to have this "pipeline", but I can't see any reason why a CO would want it.

Even though the KC's are a Catholic organization, my church felt that it needed to have more direct control over Catholic scout units.  It ordered all KC councils to transfer their units over to the parishes.  If the bishops don't even trust the KC's to run scouting units, imagine how they feel about sending Catholic scouts to OA, which is completely outside their control.

I can easily imagine how a CO might someday be liable because it allowed OA elections.  But even if CO's aren't financially liable for issues arising from OA elections and OA activities, they still have a moral responsibility to safeguard the children in their units.   

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32 minutes ago, David CO said:

I think you are all missing the point.  

The Chartered Organization has an obligation to protect its children.  The CO can protect its children while they are participating in unit activities, but the CO has no control over OA.  The CO cannot protect its children at OA activities.

Why would a CO want to have a "pipeline" from its unit to some other program whose leadership and activities are totally outside the CO's control?  It doesn't make any sense.  I understand why OA would want to have this "pipeline", but I can't see any reason why a CO would want it.

Even though the KC's are a Catholic organization, my church felt that it needed to have more direct control over Catholic scout units.  It ordered all KC councils to transfer their units over to the parishes.  If the bishops don't even trust the KC's to run scouting units, imagine how they feel about sending Catholic scouts to OA, which is completely outside their control.

I can easily imagine how a CO might someday be sued because it allowed OA elections.  

Can't speak for all Lodges, but in our Lodge scouts attending OA events must still be supervised by an adult OA member from their home unit, or a trusted OA adult member approved by the home unit. It's not an unsupervised drop-off activity.

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43 minutes ago, David CO said:

completely outside their control.

In all of my years as a youth in OA, we did pretty much what we wanted.  In hindsight, it seemed like the inmates running the asylum.

When our local lodge conducted our last two elections, the youths representing the lodge gushed on and on about how cool it is that everyone brings computers and play stations so they can game all night at lodge fellowships. Parents certainly don't want to hear, nor necessarily have their Scouts participating in that.

 

Edited by InquisitiveScouter
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