Order of the Arrow
The purpose of the Order of the Arrow is fourfold:
- To recognize those Scout campers who best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law
in their daily lives
- To develop and maintain camping traditions and spirit
- To promote Scout camping
- To crystallize the Scout habit of helpfulness into a life purpose of
leadership in cheerful service to others
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 was recognized
as the BSA's national brotherhood of honor campers and became an official part
of the national camping program of the Boy Scouts of America. Today, the OA is
recognized as Scouting's National Honor Society.
The OA has more than 180,000 members in lodges affiliated with more than 300
BSA local councils.
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 15 days and nights of camping
during the two years before his 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. Scouts are elected to the Order by their
fellow troop or Varsity team members, following approval by the Scoutmaster or Varsity Scout
Adult selection is based on the 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 Ordeal induction ceremony is often conducted at Scout camp and is the
first step toward full membership. During the experience, candidates maintain
complete silence, receive small amounts of food, work on camp improvement
projects, and are required to sleep alone, apart from other campers, which
teaches 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 or Scouter 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.
Each Order of the Arrow lodge is granted a charter from the National Council,
BSA, upon annual application by the local council. The OA lodge helps the local
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.
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 and training. All of the elected
section chiefs form the conference committee for the annual Order of the Arrow
program of emphasis, which is held under the guidance of the national OA
Committee. The committee meets each year at the national OA planning meeting in
National Chief and Vice Chief
The national chief and vice chief are Arrowmen selected by the section chiefs
at the national OA planning meeting each December. They serve as voting members
of the national Order of the Arrow Committee, representing the youth on national
OA policy and program. They also serve as the presiding officers for the annual
OA program of emphasis. The national committee specifies their term of office.
The national committee chairman and director of the Order of the Arrow advise
them of their responsibilities.