What is the Order of the Arrow (OA)?
The Order of the Arrow (OA) is the National Honor Society within the Boy Scouts of America. There are more than 176,000 members located in lodges affiliated with approximately 327 BSA local councils. Members may be identified by their white sash with a red arrow emblem which is worn over the right shoulder at Order of the Arrow functions. For more information on what Order of the Arrow does, what it stands for, and who the youth and adult leaders are, you can visit the National Order of the Arrow website.
How does a Scout become an Arrowman?
Scouts are elected to the Order by their fellow Scouts in their own unit , following approval by their Scoutmaster or Varsity team Coach. Elections are usually scheduled with the units at least annually. To become a member, a youth must:
- Be a registered member of a Boy Scout Troop or Varsity Scout Team
- Hold First Class rank or higher
- 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 of the Arrow fulfill its purpose, and is not for recognition. Selected adult Scouters must be an asset to the Order of the Arrow 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 and is usually held in the spring and again in the fall in the Denver Area Council. During the Ordeal, candidates maintain silence, receive small amounts of food, work on camp improvement projects, and are required to sleep alone, apart from other campers. This entire experience is designed to teach significant values. To alleviate lingering concerns in some quarters regarding the ceremonial aspects of the Order of the Arrow, the Boy Scouts of America has officially stated:
“The induction is not a hazing or an initiation ceremony. The Order of the Arrow is not a secret Scout organization, and its ceremonies are open to any parent, Scout leader, or religious leader. There is an element of mystery in the ceremonies for the sake of its effect on the candidates. For this reason, ceremonies are not put on in public. The ceremonies are not objectionable to any religious group.”
A Jumpstart Training for new Arrowmen is available at the National Order of the Arrow website.
Information on scheduling an election for a Boy Scout Troop or Varsity Scout Team: