The Order of the Arrow
Scouting’s National Honor Society
For more than 100 years, the Order of the Arrow (OA) has recognized Scouts and Scouters who best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives. This recognition provides encouragement for others to live these ideals as well. Arrowmen are known for maintaining camping traditions and spirit, promoting year-round and long term resident camping, and providing cheerful service to others. OA service, activities, adventures, and training for youth and adults are models of quality leadership development and programming that enrich and help to extend Scouting to America's youth.
The mission of the Order of the Arrow is to fulfill its purpose as an integral part of the Boy Scouts of America through positive youth leadership under the guidance of selected capable adults.
As Scouting’s National Honor Society, our purpose is to:
- Recognize those who best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives and through that recognition cause others to conduct themselves in a way that warrants similar recognition.
- Promote camping, responsible outdoor adventure, and environmental stewardship as essential components of every Scout’s experience, in the unit, year-round, and in summer camp.
- Develop leaders with the willingness, character, spirit and ability to advance the activities of their units, our Brotherhood, Scouting, and ultimately our nation.
- Crystallize the Scout habit of helpfulness into a life purpose of leadership in cheerful service to others.
The Order of the Arrow was founded by Dr. E. Urner Goodman and Carroll A. Edson in 1915 at the Treasure Island Camp of the Philadelphia Council, Boy Scouts of America. It became an official program experiment in 1922 and was approved as part of the Scouting program in 1934. In 1948 the OA, recognized as the BSA's national brotherhood of honor campers, became an official part of the Boy Scouts of America. In 1998, the Order of the Arrow became recognized as Scouting's National Honor Society when it expanded its reach beyond camping to include broader service to Scouting and the community.
The Order of the Arrow membership requirements are:
- Be a registered member of the Boy Scouts of America.
- After registration with a troop or team, have experienced 15 days and nights of Boy Scout camping during the two-year period prior to the election. The 15 days and nights must include one, but no more than one, long-term camp consisting of six consecutive days and five nights of resident camping, approved and under the auspices and standards of the Boy Scouts of America. The balance of the camping must be overnight, weekend, or other short-term camps.
- Youth must be under the age of 21, hold the BSA First Class rank or higher, and following approval by the Scoutmaster or Varsity team Coach, be elected by the youth members of their troop or team.
- Adults (age 21 or older) who are registered in the BSA and meet the camping requirements may be selected following nomination to the lodge adult selection committee. Adult selection is based on their ability to perform the necessary functions to help the Order fulfill its purpose, and is not for recognition of service, including current or prior positions. Selected adults must be an asset to the Order because of demonstrated abilities, and must provide a positive example for the growth and development of the youth members of the lodge.
Members are selected for membership through elections held within their units supervised by Order of the Arrow representatives. All unit members, regardless of their Order of the Arrow membship participate in these elections. Elections are held for youth members which adult nominations are evaluated and approved by the lodge. Elected youth and adults with approved nominations are considered as candidates until they compete the induction ceremony. Members are encouraged to participate in lodge activities and events and provide meaningful service through the lodge.
Induction and Ordeal Membership. The induction ceremony, called the Ordeal, is the first step toward full membership in the Order. During the experience, candidates maintain silence, receive small amounts of food, work on camp improvement projects, and sleep apart from other campers. The entire experience is designed to teach significant values. All candidates for membership must complete the Ordeal.
Brotherhood Membership. After 10 months of service as an Ordeal member and fulfilling certain requirements, a member may take part in the Brotherhood ceremony, which places further emphasis on the ideals of Scouting and the Order. Completion of this ceremony signifies full membership in the Order.
Vigil Honor. After two years of exceptional service as a Brotherhood member, and with the approval of the national Order of the Arrow committee, a Scout or Scouter may be recognized with the Vigil Honor for their distinguished contributions to their lodge, the Order of the Arrow, Scouting, or their Scout camp. This honor is bestowed by special selection each year.
Order of the Arrow Organization
The Order of the Arrow provides many opportunities for scouts to serve their units, districts, councils, and areas outside of the council.
Chapters. The chapter is the smallest unit of organization in the Order of the Arrow. The chapter is equivalent in area to the local district, and scouts in units within the district will be members of that district's chapter. Many opportunities for service and activities are present at the chapter level such as in the serving on staff of district camp events, administration of unit elections, brotherhood, and other activities. A chapter is lead by elected youth leaders from within the chapter and advised by an adult chapter advisor.
Lodges. Whereas a chapter is equivalent to a district, the lodge is equivalent to the council. A lodge helps the local Boy Scout council provide a quality Scouting program through recognition of Scouting spirit and performance, development of youth leadership and service, promotion of Scout camping and outdoor programs, and enhancement of membership tenure. A lodge is lead by elected youth leaders from within the lodge and advised by adult lodge advisors. The lodge assists the chapters and provides additional opportunities for service, activity, and brotherhood within the council area. Every Boy Scout council is encouraged to have an Order of the Arrow lodge.
Sections. An Order of the Arrow section consists of lodges within a geographic area of the region. Once every year, representatives of lodges in the section come together for a conclave to share in fellowship, skills, and training. In addition, the section creates a monitoring/mentoring relationship with its lodges, provides leadership development opportunities, fosters understanding and adherence to national OA policies and procedures, and coordinates OA administrative and program functions. A section is lead by three elected youth officers, the section chief, section vice chief, and section secretary, who are advised by an adult section adviser and professional section staff adviser. The section for the Tataliya Lodge is Section W1E, and their website for events and other information is www.sectionw1e.org.
Region. The region is the same area as the region system in Boy Scouts of America, and each region has a youth leader elected annually by the section chiefs in his region. This election is held in conjunction with the annual national planning meeting. The region Order of the Arrow chairman is an adult adviser appointed by the region director. The professional adviser for the region is assigned by the region director.
National. The national chief and vice chief are Arrowmen elected to one-year terms by the section chiefs during the annual national planning meeting. They serve as members of the national Order of the Arrow committee, providing the opinion of youth Arrowmen on national OA policy. They also serve as the presiding officers for the national OA event. They are advised in their responsibilities by the national OA committee chairman and the Order of the Arrow team leader. The national OA committee chairman is appointed annually by the vice president/chairman of the national Outdoor Adventures Group. The professional adviser is the Order of the Arrow team leader, a national professional Scouter.
Order of the Arrow dues help support the ongoing activities and registration of the lodge as well as allows members to wear their lodge flap over their right uniform pocket signifying their active membership in the lodge. We encourage all members to remain active in their chapters and in the lodge in support of the brotherhood of cheerful service as found within the Order of the Arrow.
Please contact the Grand Columbia Council at 509-453-4795 for more information.