Order of the Arrow
What is the OA?
The purpose of the Order of the Arrow is to provide service and to promote camping. Camping and the outdoor program is an important aspect of Scouting. Scouting strives to build character, citizenship and fitness. When scouts go camping, this growth just seems to follow. Patrol and troop camping are models and a testing ground for life in a society where each scout learns to accept responsibility and to exercise good judgment. Camping contributes to the interaction among fellow scouts in positive and supportive ways since Scouts who camp will soon come face to face with practical applications of the Scout Oath and Scout Law. Cheerfulness, trustworthiness, courtesy, helpfulness, and all the central virtues of Scouting are as necessary in camp as in society. Life in the open is a natural teacher of these essential survival skills. Thus, we promote camping and camping becomes a natural way of achieving the aims of Scouting. The skills and cooperation scouts learn through the outdoor program reinforce the basic ideals of the Scout Oath and Scout Law.
The principles of Scouting are central to any kind of successful camping experience. The Order of the Arrow was founded in a Scout camp. Scout camping is its core requirement for membership with camping promotion its central service theme. Arrowmen encourage scouts to go camping. In camp Arrowmen maintain the best traditions and the highest spirit.
The Order of the Arrow (OA) 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 national camping program of the Boy Scouts of America.
Scouts are elected to the Order by their fellow unit members, following approval by the Scoutmaster or Varsity team Coach. To become a member, a youth must be a registered member of a Boy Scout troop or Varsity Scout team and hold First Class rank. The youth must have experienced fifteen days and nights of Boy Scout camping during the two-year period prior to the election. The fifteen 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.
Adult selection is based on their ability to perform the necessary functions to help the Order fulfill its purpose, and is not for recognition. Selected adult Scouters must be an asset to the Order because of demonstrated abilities, and provide a positive role model for the youth members of the lodge.
The induction ceremony, called the Ordeal, is the first step toward full membership. During the experience, candidates maintain silence, receive small amounts of food, work on camp improvement projects, and are required to sleep alone, apart from other campers. The entire experience is designed to teach significant values.
After 10 months of service 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 OA.
After two years of service as a Brotherhood member, and with the approval of the national Order of the Arrow Committee, a Scout may be recognized with the Vigil Honor for outstanding service to Scouting, his lodge, and the community. This honor is bestowed by special selection and is limited to one person for every 50 members registered with the lodge each year.