About Order of the Arrow
The mission of the Order of the Arrow (OA) 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.
For more than 100 years, the Order of the Arrow 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.
Founded at Treasure Island Scout Camp
Camp Director E. Urner Goodman and Assistant Camp Director Carroll A. Edson searched for a way to recognize select campers for their cheerful spirits of service at Treasure Island Scout Camp in the Delaware River. Goodman and Edson founded the Order of the Arrow when they held the first Ordeal Ceremony on July 16th of that year.
Founded at Treasure Island Scout Camp
As the popularity of the organization spread to other camps, local lodges attended the first national gathering called a Grand Lodge Meeting (now known as NOAC).
Officially Integrated into the Boy Scout Program
The Order of the Arrow was one of many camp honor societies that existed at local Scout camps across the country. As the years went on and more camps adopted the Order of the Arrow’s program, it gained prominence and became part of the national Boy Scout program.
Officially Integrated into the Boy Scouts of America
The OA, recognized as the BSA’s national brotherhood of honor campers, became an official part of the Boy Scouts of America. Toward the end of the twentieth century, the OA expanded its focus to include conservation, high adventure, and servant-leadership.
The Lodge Becomes an Integral Part of the Council
The Order of the Arrow created its first strategic plan. This document outlined ways that the OA could help the Boy Scouts of America accomplish their goals and strengthen the local program. One of the plan’s initiatives called for every lodge to become an integral part of its council’s operations. For many lodges, this was the first time a communication link had been established between the lodge leadership and the council Scout executive.
It was also at this point that the Order of the Arrow officially became “Scouting’s National Honor Society.”
Continuing to Make an Impact
Throughout the years, the Order of the Arrow has played an integral role in the Boy Scouts of America and in the community service its members contribute to their communities. To date, more than one million people have been members of the Order of the Arrow.
Presently, the Order of the Arrow consists of nearly 260 lodges, which form approximately 45 sections in the two geographical regions. Leadership positions and voting rights are restricted to members under the age of 21. Through the program, members live up to the ideals of brotherhood, cheerfulness, and service set forth by founders E. Urner Goodman and Carroll A. Edson.
Organization & Structure
The Order of the Arrow has three distinct organizational levels: lodges, sections, and regions. Lodges carry out the Order of the Arrow program at the local level and are closely tied with BSA councils. Sections consist of several lodges within a geographic region and regions, in turn, consist of sections within a geographic region of the United States. Lodges, sections, and regions each have a distinct set of responsibilities which ensure that the OA program runs smoothly.
If a lodge has chapters, generally there is one chapter created in each district of the council. Each chapter has its own officers and advisers, the officers being elected by the youth OA members within the chapter, and the advisers being appointed by the Scout executive often with the consultation of the lodge adviser and district executive(s).
Chapters provide the ability to have meetings closer to home and meetings and events can be scheduled to coincide with the district events. The chapter is central to providing quality unit visits for camping promotion, and unit elections.
As Scouting’s National Honor Society, our purpose is to:
To be recognized as Scouting’s National Honor Society and an integral part of every council. Our service, activities, adventures, and training for youth and adults, are model of quality leadership development and programming that enrich, support, and help extend Scouting to America’s youth.
The Order of the Arrow has more than 160,000 active members located in lodges affiliated with over 270 BSA local councils. As of August 2018, there is now an OA lodge in every council across the United States.
As of February 1, 2019, unit elections are permitted in Scouts BSA, Venturing, and Sea Scout units. The Order of the Arrow membership requirements are:
While there are three levels of membership (called “honors”) in the Order of the Arrow, all members—regardless of honor—are considered equal.
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.
After six 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.
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 and is limited to one person for every 50 members registered with the lodge each year.
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