About The Order of the
Order of the Arrow (OA),
Wimachtendienk, Wingolauchsik, Witahemui
Brotherhood of Cheerful
is an official program of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). It is the BSA's
National honorary society for experienced campers, based on Native
American traditions, and dedicated to the ideal of cheerful service.
Members of the OA are called Arrowmen.
The OA was founded in
at a Scout camp on
on the Delaware River near Philadelphia. The two men most involved in its
creation were camp director
Dr. E. Urner Goodman, and his
Carroll A. Edson. It had come to their attention that many other camps had
created honor societies for Scouts who had attended them. They were also
inspired by the use of Native American culture by
Seton in his Woodcraft Indians program. They decided to create one of
their own, and to base it on the traditions and legends of the local Lenni
Indians; the name
Brotherhood of Cheerful Service, and many of the OA's ceremonies
are thus derived from Delaware tradition.
Numerous other camp honor societies existed at some point during the BSA's
history. Some faded into history. Some are still active today. Others
Order of the Arrow
lodges. Among the more widespread of these societies are the
Tribe of Quivira,
The Buckskin Sons of Wauwepex,
The Clan of the Mystic Oak.
Two councils today do not have an
OA Lodge. The
Long Beach Council in California
has the Tribe of Tahquitz.
Pony Express Council in
Tribe of Mic-O-Say.
stated purposes of the Order of the Arrow are:
# 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, and
# To crystallize the Scout habit
of helpfulness into a life purpose of leadership in cheerful service to
The basic unit of the order is
which is chartered to a
The head of a lodge is the
a young man under the age of 21, with a
Lodge Adviser, an adult tasked with guiding the chief and the lodge in
general. Many lodges are further divided into
chapters, which generally correspond to a
district in the council. OA activities, primarily meetings and service
projects, are usually organized by the chapters.
lodges are grouped into what is known as a
section, the primary purpose of which is to organize an annual
weekend campout known as a
which combines training performed for the membership of the lodges and
inter-lodge competition, including sporting competitions. The sections are
subdivisions of BSA
areas, which are then grouped into one of four
regions: Northeast, Southern, Central, and Western. Each level
annually elects youth (under 21) leadership, in the form of Section,
Region, and National Chiefs. Nationally, the order is headed by the
National Order of the Arrow Committee, of which the
National Vice-chief, and each
(added recently) are voting members, which is a
subcommittee of the BSA's Boy Scouting Committee.
Membership in the Order of the Arrow totals over 180,000 youth and adult
number of those
involved in the Boy Scout program. Since members are
elected by their local unit, and since most of the members of their unit
are generally not members of the Order of the Arrow, the Order is said to
largest membership organization whose members are elected primarily by
Inductees to the Order must
elected by a majority vote of their fellow Scouts
(including non-members) in their troop or team. Any Scout who has reached
the rank of
First Class, has
fulfilled camping requirements, and has been
approved by his Scoutmaster is eligible for election. The next step is the
calling-out, typically performed by a
Order member dressed in ceremonial Indian clothes.
This usually occurs sometime prior to the next inductions weekend, and may
be done at
district camping event called
a Camporee, or even at a
The two types of members are Youth and Advisers. The distinction is
important in that Youth are voting members and serve in the Lodge,
National elected offices while
Advisers are appointed to their positions
and are non-voting members.
Youth are members under 21 elected by their troop.
Adults can become members by being nominated by the committee members of
the troop and then approved by the lodge Adult Selection Committee.
If an adult in the troop (due to the difference that adults in a troop are
18 and over) is not yet 21 they must be elected by the boys as a Youth
member. Advisers (that were not Youth members) are nominated from in their
troop, or, if appropriate, by the district or council. Youth and advisers
undergo the same induction ceremonies and principles.
first level of membership is called Ordeal membership
and is where the member
officially becomes part of the Order through the Ordeal
Conducted at a Scout camp or other wooded location,
candidates undertake tests
which are designed to test the candidate's devotion to the core principles
of the Order.
It should be noted that some members feel that the experience of taking
the Ordeal is somewhat cheapened if the tests are known in advance;
however, this information is in no sense secret.
minimum of 10 months,
during which the member becomes active in the Order,
is eligible to go through another ceremony, where the member seals his
membership in the Order and is advanced to the second level of Brotherhood
membership. Two years after completing the Brotherhood, a member having
demonstrated exemplary service to their Lodge, the Order of the Arrow, and
to Scouting may be selected for the Vigil Honor. A Lodge may select only
one Vigil candidate per every 50 registered active members,
majority of those inducted
under the age of 21. The members are advanced to the
Vigil Honor after completing the Vigil.
Most lodges hold several
annual events, often at
belonging to the local Boy Scout council, for the purpose of fellowship,
inducting new members, and service work to improve the council camp.
Annually, members of lodges who are grouped into a section
(an administrative grouping of anywhere from two to ten lodges)
at a Section Conclave for fellowship, training, competition, and to elect
Youth officers who run the Section. Once every two years, the National
Order of the Arrow Conference (NOAC), a week-long event, is held on the
campus of a major university.
For several years, the
OA has sponsored special service groups
National High Adventure Bases.
This started with the
OA Trail Crew at the Philmont Scout Ranch,
which has worked to build new trails and repair old ones. Later this
expanded to the
Northern Tier High Adventure
Bases with the OA Wilderness Voyage, which has repaired the portage trails
in the Boundary Waters area. Most recently they have started the
OA Ocean Adventure at the Florida High Adventure Sea Base,
which works to repair reefs in the Florida Keys.
Since the 1950s, the OA has
fielded a Service Corps for the National Scout Jamboree.
At recent Jamborees this has
expanded with a major show and
TOAP (The Outdoor Adventure Place).
identified by a white sash, bearing a red arrow worn over their right
shoulder. The Brotherhood sash consists of an arrow "enclosed" by two red
bars, while the Vigil sash is the Brotherhood sash with a triangle going
through the arrow shaft, the triangle bearing three small arrows going in
a counterclockwise direction. They are also identified by special
Order of the Arrow patches
worn on the right pocket flap of their Boy Scout uniforms,
called lodge flaps. Many of these patches are now
significance. Another form of identification is a small silver pin,
suspended from a red and white ribbon, and attached from the button of the
right pocket flap.
Officially, the sash is worn only at official Order of the Arrow functions
and when specifically representing the Order of the Arrow - such as when
conducting an election of Order of the Arrow members for a Boy Scout
troop. The flap patch and ribbon pin are worn on the uniform so long as
the Scout or Scouter is a member of the Order of the Arrow.
The program has an official song/anthem, "Firm Bound in Brotherhood",
which is sung to the tune of
God Save the Tsar.
The arrowmen traditionally sing it when gathered around in a circle and
holding hands to symbolize a linked chain.
The Order of the Arrow has occasionally been classified as
a secret society. This attitude stems from the Order of the Arrow's
ceremonies as well as the closed nature of Order practices to non-members.
The Boy Scouts, and its adult leaders, maintain a strict opinion that the
Order of the Arrow is not a secret society, as secret societies are
forbidden by the policies of the Boy Scouts of America, as is the mention
of anything 'secret' in nature. Although its ceremonies are safeguarded
from non-members without a specific reason to know in order to preserve
their impact on future candidates, any concerned person can read or view
the ceremonies upon request, and all business meetings are open to
The Order of the Arrow has also been challenged for the methods in which
it elects its members. On the level of the younger Boy Scouts, many Order
of the Arrow elections are seen as little more than popularity contests
between children, where the most popular scout in a troop will be elected
to the OA, regardless of his attitudes towards scouting or his abilities
in outdoor camping and scouting techniques. It has been said that this is
most common in Boy Scout troops which operate out of the same neighborhood
or school, in that a scout with a "circle of friends" will easily be
elected to the Order of the Arrow based on friendship (or sometimes even
intimidation) among other members of the troops.
In contrast to the younger OA elections, the adult Order of the Arrow
elections seem much better run and impartial. Adults are not actually
elected to the OA, they are nominated by their unit committee, district,
or council. Each unit is allowed 1 adult nomination for every 50 youth in
their unit. If there are no youth elected from that unit there can be no
adult. There is a group consisting of the Lodge Adviser, Scout Executive,
and Camping Committee Chairman (in most cases these are the three) that
approve these nominations. Even so, in recent years the Order of the Arrow
has been challenged in that any adult may become a member and the
election process is merely a formality. Some have claimed this detracts
from the standards of the Order of the Arrow making it more of a social
club than an honor society. However, members must maintain registration in
another branch of scouting.
Awards in the Order
Like many of the awards given
to members of the BSA, the Order of the Arrow can bestow awards to its
members for distinguished service. The highest, and oldest of these awards
Distinguished Service Award. First awarded in 1940, the Distinguished
Service Award is given to an Arrowman who has given dedicated, unselfish
service at the National, Regional, and Sectional level. The Distinguished
Service Award is presented every two years at the National Order of the
Arrow Conference, and is one of the few awards in the BSA that can be
given to any member, including Professional Scouters. The award is a
silver arrowhead, bisected by a diagonal arrow, and suspended from a white
ribbon with small embroidered red arrows.
Another award is the
Founder's Award. First awarded in 1981 after the death of Dr. Goodman, the
Founders' Award is given to at least one youth and one adult each year by
the lodge for unselfish service above and beyond their normal duties as
Arrowmen. In essence, the Founders' Award is similar to the Distinguished
Service Award, except it is awarded at the Lodge Level. The award is a
display medallion, with the Arrowman wearing a ribbon pin, but with a gold
arrow suspended from a solid red ribbon.
Another award, the
Red Arrow Award,
is similar in nature to the Distinguished Service Award, but unlike the
more renowned award, the Red Arrow Award is given to non-members only. It
was first awarded in 1970. Because some of those honored were women who
have since joined the OA when it allowed female scouters to join, these
are the only OA members who have received it.
It is important to distinguish between awards and honors in
the Order of the Arrow.
Honors refer only to the three honors of the order (Ordeal,
Brotherhood and Vigil).
Founders ' Award, the Red Arrow Award and the Distinguished Service Award
are all awards.
Any of the awards of the Order of the Arrow may be presented to an
individual regardless of which honor he has achieved.
Jan. 8, 2009 6:30
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Coosa Lodge 50 Website
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2009 Mulberry District, BSA