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OA - how does an Adult get elected?

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What don't you know about OA? Other than the password for the forum & a few bits & pieces about a ceremony, that is. And I'm sure, with the internet being what it is, that you could discover those with a just a bit of searching.


Is it that members have to be elected? The mayor of your town is elected. A Troop's Patrol Leaders are elected. Does that make them all members of a secret society?


Yes, like all elections everywhere, there is politics involved, some times it is simply a popularity contest, & sometimes things happen that are not fair. That is life. Personally, I would rather have elections than the alternative.


All of the OA work weekends at my council's camps are open to anyone who wants to attend. You are more than welcome to come if you wish.



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sitrep, why the bitterness? What exactly is it about OA that you object to?


Just for the record, OA predates 1948 (the offical adoption date into the BSA). It was originally conceived at the Treasure Island summer camp (near Philadelphia) in 1915. However; it is based on similar honor societies that were in use at private boys' camps possibly before BSA was established. There may well never have been at time when there wasn't an honor society co-existing with Scouting.

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scoutldr wrote, "The adult role in OA is to serve as "adult supervision" for Lodge and Chapter events, and to serve as advisors to youth officers and committee chairs, in addition to providing strong-back labor and transportation for work days, ordeals, etc. In my opinion, an adult in OA who does not serve in one of these capacities, and merely walks around with a coffee cup or comes to meetings just to socialize in the back of the room is really just in the way."


For me, as an adult Scouter whose primary role in Scouting is that of Scoutmaster, my main role in the Order of the Arrow is to support the OA program within my troop. I do this by helping the youth leadership of our troop develop a top notch year round camping program. I strive to set a positive example to the youth membership by acting as an exemplary participant in the Order. On a lesser note, I also provide transportation to the monthly OA meetings to the youth of our troop when I attend our district roundtable. As an OA member, don't forget that our primary responsibility is to our troop and that we must help the youth to continue to work on the Scout spirit, service to Scouting and their camping abilities that helped them be chosen as OA candidates in the first place.

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You do a good job of avoiding my question and focusing on things like the elections. I said "So you are really telling us that the OA is not a secret society? How does an elite (or rather I should say exclusive) group further the aims of scouting?" But it is mostly my second question that is the heart of the objection to the OA. As far as your council's OA work weekend yes I'm sure I could come but only to certain events, right? I just don't think a group like the BSA with it's ideals needs an exclusive group.

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Still so bitter and no answer to my question. Let me rephrase it. What exactly is it that caused you to feel this way about the OA?


You've complained that it "just a big popularity contest. What do you base that on?


Youve also stated that it is a "secret society" -- it's not. BSA policy does not permit secret organizations and all portions of the Scouting program, including OA, are open to parents and leaders.


Yes, there is safeguarded information, but this is done to avoid spoiling the experience for those who have not gone through it. Look at it this way, if you bought a present for someone, would you tell them what it was before they unwrapped it or would you let them enjoy the surprise.?





You're right adults should not be selected for OA merely as an "honor". The OA Troop Representative Support Pack specifically states that adults are to be selected based on their ability "to help the Order fulfill its purposes, and not for recognition of service, including current or prior achievement and position." In addition, it must be determined that "The individual will be an asset to the Order because of demonstrated abilities that fulfill the purpose of the Order." If the troop follows the policy, then there shouldn't be any socializers, although they're everywhere not just at OA meetings.



acco40: Bullseye!


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Many BSA events and councils are dependant on OA and their lodges. Many summer camps would not have the much needed improvements that these lodges provide. It is not always possible to have regular scouts come out to work all weekend if they feel they are getting nothing out of it.


If you go to the National Jambo you will realize there is a full OA staff that runs several things, and these are not only for members.


At the NJ State Police Camporee in Oct. a network of scouts who knew each other through OA were able to put on the opening/closing ceremonies. All cameramen, tech crew, director, etc were arrowmen who knew each other through OA events.


It should NOT be asked "why the BSA really needs the OA, except for some people to better about themselves?" BSA might survive without the OA, but it would be a much harder struggle to stay running.


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Your question has nothing to do with the thread and is just an excercise in internet pop psychology. Are you going to ask me next if I wet my bed or if my parents spanked me as a child? But I'll humor you tell you that I'm not not bitter eventhough I know you won't believe me.


My statment about the OA being a popularity contest comes from my personal observation as both a scout and an ASM. I've seen both boys and parents hurt by the fact that the election is a populaity contest. Popularity contests may be fine for regular elections like PL, SPL and the like but not for something that is supposedly an honor. I remember one instance when a active father of a very good life scout at my troop was standing around with some of the other adults wondering out loud why his boy wasn't elected and the only conclusion he could come up with was that it was a popularity contest. No one said anything but I should have spoken up and told him how I agreed with him b/c it was sad but true.


To claim that the OA is not secret just b/c some info is guarded for the protection of those joining is lame. Scouting has no other group within it that has closed meeting and is not open to all except members. Maybe the correct term to use about the OA is exclusive. I stand by my question, "How does an elite group further the aims of scouting?" I seriously doubt that the "BSA might survive without the OA, but it would be a much harder struggle to stay running." That is just and excuse to justify/emphsize the necessity/existance of the OA.(This message has been edited by sitrep)

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Wow. Where to start.


Your question has nothing to do with the thread


First, my question was valid. Your response to LauraT7 had nothing to do with her question about how adults are elected into the OA. You simply used the opportunity to throw darts at an organization you dont agree with. Youre welcome to your own opinions but they should be based on facts not accusations. I simply asked what your issues are/were. If you make public (relative in this sense) pronouncements on the quality of something you better expect others to challenge you on it.


Not bitter? Your claim would carry more weight if you hadnt lashed out at me with the remarks about pop psychology, bedwetting, and spanking. You finished off with the taunt that I wouldnt believe you anyway. You can claim youre not bitter, but you are certainly hostile and that stems from something. Youll never successfully convince anyone of anything if you use hostility and derision to make your case.



My statment about the OA being a popularity contest comes from my personal observation as both a scout and an ASM.


If your troops OA elections were nothing more than a popularity contest, then your Scouts had no idea what they were voting for or why. Thats directly attributable to the adult leadership in your troop. The purpose, mission, and principles are all available to anyone.


As an ASM why didnt you do something about it? Its easy to point out problems, anyone can do that. The world has enough problem-finders, we need problem solvers. As a Scout you pledged on your honor to help other people at all times. What did you do to help these Scouts you believe were victims of being unpopular? As a Scout you also professed to be brave having the courage to stand up for what is right even if others do not agree with you. What have you done to correct matters? If your unit isnt conducting/promoting the order properly why not take steps to remedy that instead of impugning the entire organization?



To claim that the OA is not secret just b/c some info is guarded for the protection of those joining is lame.


Thats not a claim, its the stated reason from OA. The fact that you dont agree with it doesnt negate it. However you do have a recourse. As stated on the OA website:


If anyone has questions about this policy, or about the Order of the Arrow, they should contact their local Boy Scout Council or Lodge Adviser.



How does an elite group further the aims of scouting?"


Its an honor society. The only exclusivity is in the eligibility requirements all of which are within the grasp of any Scout within 1 to 2 years of joining. All of them are things to strive for, and thats what the OA does recognizes those who best exemplify the requirements. If you dont believe in rewarding Scouts who achieve this then I have no answers for you.


The only requirement you seem to have an issue with is the selection by the Scouts in the unit. Youve implied that that process is flawed, but as Ive already pointed out that flaw exists in your unit and not by the design of OA.



Where does that leave us? Well, youve been provided all the answers I/we can give you. If thats not enough contact your District Executive and share your concerns and observations. Ask to meet with the Lodge Advisor and attend OA meetings and/functions. Talk with the lodge leadership youth and adults. Ask them the questions youve asked here and share your concerns with them. If after all of that you still disagree with the purpose/existence of OA, so be it, but at least youll do so from a position of knowledge.



LauraT7, my apologies to you. I did not mean to divert your thread. Please keep us posted on your efforts with OA.


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One of the most popular boys in our troop was not elected to OA this year. Seems the other boys didn't feel he showed the amount of leadership they felt he should. One that was not all that popular was. Seems the boys felt he had been a good leader.

Any boy who has earned 1st Class and has camped a certain number of nights can be elected to OA by the members of his troop. So as far as having a secret membership there isn't.

By the way our SM was inducted this year. We ask the advisor what it took. He told us that the committee had to nominate him. Our CC was there, the advisor had the paperwork. There were 4 other committee members there. The SM wasn't there. They filed the paper work. The OA advisor them took it back to the lodge committee. And from what I understand even the boys that have made brotherhood are included in the process of an adult application. I sure wish I had a picture of his face when they taped him out. One nice thing is that his oldest son was taped out on the same night. So was my Kevin. Kevin was thrilled. He got to do his Ordeal on his 12th birthday. He said he couldn't think of a better birthday present.

But as far as things being "secret" I have beentold by the advisor that I am welcome to come to any meeting or outing they have.

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Popularity contest, may be in some troop, but not in ours. First and foremost, the scout (and adult leader) has to acquired a minimum number of campout nights to be nominated. Everyone in the troop is free to elect the person of his choosing (no campaign speeches, no pressure, no debate). To date, some of our "more popular" scouts did not get elected in (yes ... to their surprise as well). Take my son for example, he is the epitome of shyness, but in his own ways, he is visible to his fellow scouts. Last year he was voted in his first year of eligibility. The SM told me that he got the 2nd highest number of votes in the troop. It floored me. I would have never thought it, not my son ... the quiet one! Apparently, he is very helpful to most of the boys in the troop and they appreciated that. This is the main theme for the OA ... service with a smile! This past election, again one of the "popular" scout did not get elected. The boys know whom and how to vote if they are instructed accordingly. Our Council camps cannot be upkept if it weren't for the OAs (without paying for the labor of course)!


As for adult, we simply see who is elegible and who is willing to roll up his sleeves to participate in OA. Last year, it came down to another gentleman and myself. Being too polite, we both opted for the other. We couldn't decide who would go, so we settle it by a good game of rock, paper, or scissor. I lost! ;)




ps: we only had 49 boys last year!(This message has been edited by OneHour)

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Let's chat a bit.


Like you, I'm an adult.


I'm an Arrowman from my youth. Selection was way back in 1970.


As an adult, as an ASM, you CAN have access to the ceremonial materials of the Order of the Arrow. Call you Council Office, ask to speak to the Staff Advisor for OA. It's often (not always) the professional who is in charge of your council camp.


In smaller Councils, you may be asking to visit with the Scout Executive.


The Order IS an honor camping society. It's an extension of the program. It promotes brotherhood, cheerfulness and service (remember Arrowmen: This is stuff that folks can hear whenever C-Team opens a Tap-Out and Pre-Ordeal in a public forum) :). Those three values DO dovetail with Scouting's ultimate purpose of raising up good young citizens!


The following is a quote from the 1970 printing of the 1965 OA Handbook. It applies even today:


"The Order of the Arrow is not a secret society. An air of mystery does surround its ceremonies and meetings, but this is done because of its appeal to boys. Boys who are nonmembers should not be permitted to attend Ordeal, Brotherhood, or Vigil ceremonies. Scout leaders, clergymen, educators, parents and others who wish to know the full story o fthe Order may easily find the answers to their questions by inquiring through their council office."


As to your question: "Why does BSA need OA?", I can give you my top four reasons:


1) It provides an outlet for older youth who aspire to larger leadership. Many of these young men are already transitional Scouters ... but this keeps them within the program and growing.


2) It provides labor to Council camps. I will grant you my Council is large and my Lodge is large. Thus far this year, my Lodge has given 3 MAN YEARS of volunteer labor in its first two induction weekends to our two council Reservations.


3) It encourages study of the American Indian, in all their many tribal families. Cheyenne are not Lenni Lenape are not Chumash are not Apache are not Yana are not Osage are not Mohawk are not Yahi.


4) It provides an outlet within Scouting for those who are budding artists and artisans. I've seen young men who have learned how to do glass beadwork so they could make authentic attire for ceremonies. I've seen young men dance their hearts out to traditional Indian dances of many tribes.


You'll find many of my words here spoken by others in this thread, sitrep. I hope we can continue this conversation.


To LauraT7: Meameng's and Trevorum's comments are smack on. I trust you regularly attend district roundtable or committee. Adults enter the Order because of the added value they will bring to the program. If you have time, energy, and skills, contact your chairman, your unit commissioner, and/or your district executive.




Ordeal Walika 228: 1970

Brotherhood Walika 228: 1971(This message has been edited by John-in-KC)

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I was nominated by our district committee for my work as camporee chair last spring. You may try this route if your Troop will not appoint you. Believe me as camporee chair I do more outside camporee work than paper pushing. I'm usually the one that organized the activities and make sure everything is done per plan at camp and sets up the Camporee HQ etc. Although there was a foul up with the paper work (lodge officer never received an application from dictric comm)I was unable to attend ordeal in Sept. We just had OA elections and both of our two candidates were elected. One was my son who to my surpirse was elected since he's not popular with the older boys. As SM I stressed to the boys that OA election was NOT a popularity contest. They were to vote only for a boy if they feel they met the requirements that OA advisor (who holds our districts elections)gave them.

After the election the OA advisor came up to me and asked me to sign the adult application that wasn't turned in fall. So guess at SC we'll have three from the Troop tapped out.

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  • 3 years later...

Your troop must attend 50% of the Chapter meetings/Lodge or National OA functions so that you can have an adult nominated in 200_.


None of the scouts that are OA have done in this troop. They believe that it is a right to be in OA, not an honor or priviledge.


There are 6 scouts that are OA and only once or twice have they even attended any OA function and she seems to think that I am keeping her out of OA.


It is up to the Troop Committee, not me that makes the decision to nominate, but if she were to do things right and not cause problems, then maybe, just maybe, she would get nominated, and I don't see that happening anytime soon.

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Your troop must attend 50% of the Chapter meetings/Lodge or National OA functions so that you can have an adult nominated in 200_.

What? Each troop can nominate to the Lodge at least one adult leader per year, presuming there is at least one eligible youth. Period.


None of the scouts that are OA have done in this troop. They believe that it is a right to be in OA, not an honor or priviledge.

Have done what in this troop? Are there any active leaders in your troop promoting the honor of being elected? By declining to allow a Scouts name to show on the ballot is a way to head off this kind of attitude.


There are 6 scouts that are OA and only once or twice have they even attended any OA function

Troops that promote OA events and have leaders that are regularly involved in the OA tend to have youth that are regularly involved in the OA.


and she seems to think that I am keeping her out of OA.

It is up to the Troop Committee, not me that makes the decision to nominate... I don't see that happening anytime soon.

Sounds like your troop meetings must be a blast. This is 3 year old issue is still dragging on?


(This message has been edited by jtswestark)

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Where are you getting the "Your troop must attend 50% of the Chapter meetings/Lodge or National OA functions so that you can have an adult nominated in 200_" stats from? There is no such policy in the Guide to Inductions, accessible at this link http://www.oa-bsa.org/resources/pubs/gti/'>http://www.oa-bsa.org/resources/pubs/gti/ or in the Guide for Officer and Advisers, accessible at this link http://www.oa-bsa.org/resources/pubs/ . I should know I am a chapter adviser whose chapter is in the process of organizing unit elections and preparing for a Call Out Ceremony this month. Maybe if more adults from the troop were active with the OA, then the scouts would follow the example? That's been my problem with reestablishing my chapter: alot of adults didn't participate so the Scouts didn't participate.



Sorry to hear about the 'popularity contest" elections. I've heard about those and have seen one or two in the past, especially before the current procedures were in place, i.e. old procedure = only can vote for half the eligble members listed. back then it was not uncommon for someone to wait for the 2nd or 3rd election to get in. Heck I got in at 15 on my third election. IF you have a good election team, and IF you have leaders who emphasize that it is NOT a popularity contest, then you should be OK. I know that when I did elections, I emphasized the work aspect of the OA and that made people look at the seriousness of the election.


As for what the OA does, jambo and council camps have already been mentioned. I cannot emphasize to much how much the OA helps camps. Having been on summer camp staff for 7 years, I can tell you that without the OA, neither of the two council camps would be operational. they do that much.


Also when councils put on camporees and Cub Scout events, the OA is usually playing a major in the backgorund, and a minor role on stage. In my old council, the OA prepped the camp for 8,000+ folks at the "Fall Encampment," had a service corps to help run the events, and also put on the Arena Show.


Not mentioned was the OA support for our national high adventure bases: Philmont, FL Sea Base, Northern Tier. All three have programs that use Arrowmen to work on projects at the bases in addition to normal staff. All are volunteers who pay to participate in these programs.


I could go on and on, about the OA, but I need a shower and sleep for an ECOH tomorrow.






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