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The Order of the Arrow

The Order of the Arrow, founded in 1915, is the Boy Scouts of America's Society of Honor Campers.The OA has more than 160,000 active members located in lodges affiliated with over 270 BSA local councils.

Who is eligible to join the OA? - The Order of the Arrow membership requirements for a Scout are:

  • Be a registered member of the Boy Scouts of America.

  • Hold the BSA rank of First Class or higher.

  • Have experienced 15 nights of Boy Scout camping while registered with a troop within the two years immediately prior to the election. The 15 nights must include one, but no more than one, long-term camp consisting of at least five consecutive nights of overnight camping, approved and under the auspices and standards of the Boy Scouts of America. Only five nights of the long-term camp may be credited toward the 15-night camping requirement. The balance of the camping (10 nights) must be overnight, weekend, or other short-term camps of, at most, three nights each.

  • Scouts must be under the age of 21, and have the approval of the Scoutmaster.

  • 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.

How does a boy become a member of the OA?

  • A Troop election will be held once a year for those boys who wish to be considered for membership. Troop 1021's annual election is held in early December. At least 50% of the troop's active Scouts must be present to hold an election and an OA representative must be present.

  • The Scouts vote on candidates by secret ballot. They may vote for as many, or as few candidates as they feel worthy. The vote is taken in silence. There is no campaigning or electioneering.

  • Candidates who are selected on at least 50% of the ballots cast are elected and become Ordeal Candidates.

  • After youth election or adult nomination to the Order of the Arrow by their unit, the youth or adult is considered an Ordeal Candidate until he/she completes the Ordeal of the 

  • Order.  If the candidate does not complete the Ordeal within 12 months of being elected/nominated, they are no longer a candidate and cannot go through an Ordeal unless they are elected/nominated again by their unit.

What are the different levels of OA membership?

  • Ordeal Membership - Once a person has been elected to the Order of the Arrow by his unit members, he is formally recognized as a candidate. This is done at a calling out ceremony, usually conducted by the ceremonies team in an outdoor setting at summer camp or a District camping event. The candidate takes part in a brief pre-Ordeal ceremony, then an actual Ordeal (a weekend campout of service projects, silence and scant food) to prove his sincere dedication to the principles of the Order of the Arrow. Finally, if he qualifies, he is accepted as a member in a colorful and memorable ceremony. This ceremony marks the earning of all of the rights and privileges in the Order of the Arrow. The member can run for any office, be on any committee, etc..

  • The Brotherhood Membership - Brotherhood is an opportunity for members to evaluate their past service to Scouting (camping and unit involvement) and to their lodge, and to reaffirm their belief in the high purposes of the Order.  Once an Arrowman has been an active Ordeal member for at least 10 months, he (or she, in the case of adults) may choose to seal his membership by becoming Brotherhood. It is important to note that Brotherhood is the only OA level that a Scout may choose for himself. (Ordeals are elected by their units; Vigil honorees are selected by their Lodge.)The Brotherhood process can easily be completed in an afternoon. For more information on Brotherhood study materials click here. The Brotherhood test and ceremony are intended to be sources of inspiration that motivates brothers to give even greater service to Scouting.  The meaning and purpose of the tests of the Ordeal will become much more clear at the Brotherhood ceremony.

  • The Vigil Honor - The Vigil Honor is the highest honor that the Order of the Arrow can present its members for service to the lodge and council.  It dates back to the year 1915, when OA's founder, E. Urner Goodman, became the first Vigil Honor member.  Since then, thousands of members have been given this honor.  Once an Arrowman has been Brotherhood for at least 2 years, he (or she, in the case of adults) may be considered for Vigil honor by the Lodge members.  Generally, only 2% of the Arrowmen in a Lodge will achieve Vigil in any year.  It is a high mark of distinction and recognition reserved for those Arrowmen who have given exceptional service, helping others beyond the call of duty involving personal effort and unselfish interest to one or more of the following: their lodge, the Order of the Arrow, their Council, Scouting, or their Scout camp. Under no circumstances should tenure in Scouting or the Order of the Arrow be considered as ample reason for a Vigil Honor recommendation.  Alertness to the needs of others is the mark of the Vigil Honor. This calls for an unusual awareness of the possibilities within each situation. Vigil Honor members have a time-honored tradition to uphold. As leaders, they must conduct themselves in accordance with the ideals of Scouting and the Order of the Arrow.

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