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Ask the Expert: When should Scouts and Scouters wear their OA sash?

Ask the Expert: What happened to Bugling merit badge?Updated Jan. 29

That bright red arrow atop a crisp white band is an unmistakeable symbol that the wearer is one of Scouting’s best.

The sash is an outward sign that the man or woman wearing it is a member of the Order of the Arrow, Scouting’s national honor society.

But when should Arrowmen wear the sash and when shouldn’t they? That question was on the mind of a crew advisor and Brotherhood OA member from Phoenix who contacted me last week. Here’s his email:

First off I know there is no hard set rule that I am aware of on when to wear your OA sash. Back in my day it was only for OA events or during tapouts at Scout camporees. I don’t want to sound like a “grumbler,” but it seems that rule has become very skewed in recent years. We currently have an adult and Scout who wear theirs to regular meetings.

Any clarification you could give would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for the question. In fact, there is a hard-set rule. To get it, I went to National OA Chairman Ray Capp. Ray also answers questions via the “Ask the Chairman” feature on OA’s newly redesigned website. Here’s what Ray said about wearing OA sashes: 

Thank you for your question regarding the proper times for wearing the Order of the Arrow sash. The answers to your question are on pages 57-58 of the Order of the Arrow Handbook (#34996):

“Only currently registered members of the Boy Scouts of America and the Order may wear the insignia of the Order of the Arrow.”

“The Order of the Arrow sash is worn with the official Scout field uniform or Scouting’s official adult professional dress wear (a blue blazer and gray slacks). The sash also may be worn by Elangomats who are not in uniform at an Ordeal, youth wearing ceremonial attire, and in such other instances as approved by the Scout executive.”

“The sash is worn at Order of the Arrow functions and special Scouting activities, when members need to be identified as Arrowmen rendering special services.”

Ray Capp

In other words, a Scout or Scouter who wears the sash to regular troop or crew meetings is going against BSA protocol.

However, at a campout where Arrowmen are working in a special capacity such as service corps or honor guard, the sash is an appropriate way to set them apart. Otherwise, the sash wouldn’t be appropriate there either because they’re not serving in an official OA capacity.

Long story short: If you’re at an OA event or working for the OA at a non-OA event, the sash is probably appropriate. Otherwise, it’s probably not.

Thanks to our questioner and to Ray for lending his wisdom to the answer.

Wearing the OA sash and merit badge sash together

Updated: The BSA Insignia Guide says that a Scout should never wear both his merit badge sash and his OA sash. Wear one or the other. (Thanks to Michael Marks for this clarification)

The Troop OA Representative and OA Troop Advisor

Updated, Jan. 29: Ray responds to comments about whether the Troop OA Representative and OA Troop Advisor should wear their sash:

I would only suggest wearing it while actually conducting official OA duties, like making announcements, during elections, at Courts of Honor when presenting the OA calendar to the parents, etc.

74 Comments on Ask the Expert: When should Scouts and Scouters wear their OA sash?

  1. It also says “only currently registered members.” Is that also true for the rest of the official uniform. If I let my membership lax, I should leave my uniform in the closet?

    • A person who is not a currently registered member who wears a uniform is saying that they are something they are not.

      • Also, a person who is still BSA-registered but isn’t current with lodge dues shouldn’t wear any Order of the Arrow identification such as the sash or lodge flap. When I was Chapter Adviser, I handed out dues forms all the time to people wearing the flap who hadn’t paid for their memberships in years. I didn’t feel they were being thrifty by cheating the lodge.

        One of my former District Execs here in the Grand Canyon Council (AZ / NM) wore his youth lodge flap from Washington. Per the Order of the Arrow Handbook (2012 edition – the most recent that I own) “members…may be official dues-paying …members of only one lodge, that being the lodge chartered to the council where they…have their principal Scouting registration. Members may only wear the lodge pocket flap of the lodge where their dues are paid.”

        One would think that an organization whose ideals include being trustworthy, loyal, and obedient would have better compliance with uniforming procedures. Many of these policies can be found in the Guide to Awards and Insignia available at this site below.

        http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/Media/InsigniaGuide.aspx

        • There are a few items I can think of that can be worn even if your dues are not current. They would be the universal arrow ribbon, Founders’ Award ribbon, and Distinguished Service Award. Possibly also the OA back patch on a jacket.

        • When I was a lodge advisor we offered free single edged razor blades for removal of flaps if you have not paid your dues. We collected a lot of dues that way!

  2. Christopher Snider // January 27, 2014 at 2:15 pm // Reply

    Also… please remember, there is a position in the Troop and Team called OA Troop/Team Representative. This is a youth whose promary function is to represent the OA within the unit, and the unit to the OA. This is a person who would be allowed to wear a sash, as their position is OA. There is also an adult Assistant Scoutmaster – OA Advisor position, who is the guide for the youth OA Rep in the troop. That person may also wear their sash as needed.

    • Hi Christopher,
      This is STRICTLY my opinion as a Chapter Advisor…
      Actually, the Troop Rep and ASM_O/A Unit Advisor would only need to wear the sash when they act directly on the behalf of the O/A; They are directly identified by the Troop Rep patch and the ASM patch with the Arrow.
      IF either were speaking directly on behalf of the Order, such as briefing the Unit on the Elections process… then I would agree that the sash could be worn. But simply being at a meeting, I would not foresee as there being a need to single him out other than the Troop Rep patch.
      To be perfectly honest, I would much rather have the Elections Team conduct the briefing of the Elections process, as that is a part of their jobs.
      And, since the Troop is not permitted to perform their own elections, the Troop Reps biggest task would be to prepare the election forms.

      • Hiya Rob, I’d like to know if the Troop not being permitted to perform their elections is purely your lodge, or a national policy. To my knowledge, it’s a per lodge basis.

        • From the OA Guide to Inductions (2007):
          “It is recommended that the OA representative serve as a member of the unit election team along with at least two other youths from outside the unit and an adult driver/adviser who is trained to support the team in those rare cases where that support is needed. It is also recommended that the majority of the team be from outside the troop or team.” p. 15

          I do not know if this has been updated since.

      • Christopher Snider // January 27, 2014 at 11:37 pm // Reply

        Rob:

        I understand where your opinion stands… I respectfully disagree, however. You cite your position as a part of your opinion, and allow me to cite mine and the reasoning for mine. I’m currently a DE, a former Commissioner, former OA Lodge Committee Advisor, and an Eagle Scout (as well as an Arrowman). In the past, I have spoken with many adult Advisors at the Lodge, Section, and Regional levels, and their thinking has been clear on this: the primary job of that young man is to represent the OA in his unit, and therefore, he is always a representative of the Order and it is proper for him to wear his sash.

        We can agree to disagree on this, however… I think the more important thing to consider here is: “Is the young man representing the OA in a good way or a bad one?” That, to me, is a much bigger question we should consider.

        • Scout Wife // January 28, 2014 at 12:58 am //

          This is not up to you. The rule is stated above and it is quite clear. The OA representative has a shoulder patch to identify his OA position within the troop. This is more of a “showing off” stance when they wear it repeatedly at every troop meeting and it does not meet the rules above. Period. Your opinion doesn’t alter the above rule. Sorry to be blunt, but your erroneous assumption that the “primary job of a young man is to represent the OA in his unit” is accomplished by wearing the sash 24/7 is wrong…the shoulder patch, yes…the sash, no.

        • Christopher;
          Please don’t take this as disrespectful, but as a professional I would think you’d want to be quoting the policies of the organization who is ensuring you get paid. If your Council Executive grants a more liberal policy than what is posted in the Insignia Guide, and the OA handbook, so be it. In that case, as I suggested to a volunteer below, know where you keep the email saved. Otherwise, I’d march in lockstep to those published policies. While I loathe to site my credentials to argue back as I think it is boastful, I am a past section officer with over 34 years of unit/district/council Scouting experience so I am not fluffing my answer. (See one of my other posts where I site the links to the policies to support my position.)

    • It is unnecessary for the OA Rep to wear his sash at regular troop meetings. That is what his OA Rep position patch on his sleeve is for. The exception, as stated earlier, would be on election nights.
      I also like seeing new arrowmen wear their sash to the first troop meeting after their ordeal, as part of affirming their successful induction into OA.

      • This is for Scout wife. If the TOAR is doing their job properly, they should be reporting to the troop at every meeting, during the announcement portion, what the OA is doing that month for both the Lodge, and the Chapter – if the Lodge is large enough to have them. Coming from the largest Lodge in the Order, we tell both our TOARs and our Scout Masters , that they should have a report at least once a month, or the scout isn’t doing his job. While he is giving his report, it is entirely appropriate for him to wear his sash, as he is doing an OA job at that time. We also tell everyone in a unit that is a current dues paying member to wear their sash for their troops election, It reminds the members of the unit who is in the OA, and they can help answer questions. Our Chapter also has the tradition of allowing the new Arrowmen to wear their sash to the first meeting after completing their Ordeal. As our Lodge has 22 Chapters, and that many Ordeals in the spring, boys may be doing their Ordeals at different times. This lets the boys that elected them know that they appreciate the vote of confidence placed in them and that they followed through with their Ordeal.

        • Scout Wife // January 29, 2014 at 4:53 pm //

          Sorry, but you are still wrong. When the boy is giving his announcements, he is performing a Troop function, it’s a Troop position, hence the shoulder patch.

  3. Scoutmaster Phil // January 27, 2014 at 2:19 pm // Reply

    So…just to make this a little more muddled up….would your OA rep for the troop be able to wear his sash at troop meetings? He is there ‘representing the OA’ to his troop. Just food for thought…or maybe he carries it with him and just puts it on for OA announcements! ;-)

    • Hi Scoutmaster Phil
      This is again strictly my opinion as a Chapter Advisor…
      The Troop Rep would only need to be identified by his sash if he were acting on behalf of the Order.
      His Shoulder patch identifies him as the Rep.
      Thinking about it more, I suppose IF he were making a presentation to a youth/adult, on behalf of the Order, he would be encouraged, by me, to wear his sash.
      But again, this is strictly my opinion.

  4. While I know the official policy…as a youth, my Troop designated all Court of Honor to be OA events…allowing the Scouts to wear their OA sash at the CoH.

    This does two things. 1) It shows the younger scouts the sash…there by peaking their interest in the OA. “hey, what’s that special sash?” 2) It allows the OA members to display the sassh…helping the older scouts (more likely to be in the OA) to desire being admited to the OA.

    Lastly: I again acknowledge the policy…but growing up, OA members at a Court of Honor would wear our Sash across the chest, and the Merit Badge Sash was ‘NEATLY’ folded and hung from our belt, over the right leg. This allowed us to display both items, and we were always careful to ensure we did it neatly and respectfully.

    I personally think this is still acceptable.

    • According to the BSA insignia guide (page 31):
      “Boy Scouts may wear only one sash at a time. A merit badge sash is never worn on the belt.”

      I think Scouts should wear their merit badge sashes to courts of honor where they are receiving merit badges and other advancement… leave the OA sash for OA occasions.

    • H. David Pendleton // January 27, 2014 at 2:33 pm // Reply

      Even though I see it all the time, there is no “official” policy that allows one to wear their OA Sash and hang their Merit Badge Sash from their belt.

      If it is an OA event, the Scout wears their OA Sash. If it is a Boy Scout event, they wear their Merit Badge Sash. Their Lodge Emblem on the right pocket flap and the little white tab with the arrow (I don’t remember the official name for it) is attached to the button on the right pocket. Both of these indicate to everyone that yes, the Scout/Scouter is an OA member.

      Our Troop has an “internal” policy as Mr. Moore writes. The issue is when the Scouts visit the district Round Table for their Eagle project review and/or Eagle BOR and they are unknowingly in violation of proper uniform wear. I have heard of cases in both events where a Scout was asked what was wrong with his uniform. Whenever I am at Round Table (almost monthly) and I see a Scout getting ready to have his Project approved and see that they have both sashes on, I go over to them and “gently” tell them that they need to remove their OA one & wear their Merit Badge Sash. One Scout was indignant that I even suggested such a thing. Later than night, I ran into the same Scout and he apologize telling me that, “I was right.”

      There is only one chance to make a first impression. Doing something right all the time is better than doing it wrong 99% of the time and then get called on it at the most inopportune moment.

      • There are instances where both sashes are appropriate. For example, if a scout is serving as part of an honor guard at a Court of Honor at which he is also receiving merit badges. Serving in the honor guard is serving in an OA capacity, and receiving merit badges requires the field uniform with merit badge sash. What is the boy to do, switch sashes back and forth all night? In such a situation, I believe it is within the OA’s published guidelines to wear both.

        I also personally believe — and this is just my personal opinion — that an Eagle Court of Honor is both a Troop event AND an OA event if the new Eagle Scout is a member of the OA. In our troop, we invite all chapter OA members (and their families) to an ECoH of an OA member in addition to all troop members and their families. The ECoH is a celebration of the new Eagle Scout’s achievements in scouting, which includes his membership and service in the OA. As such, he should be allowed to wear both his MB sash and his OA sash. This would be the one time I would think it would be acceptable to wear the OA sash for pride as opposed to just to indicate a position of service; after all, it’s HIS day.

        • I’m sorry Tom, that’s simply not right. He’d need to wear one of the other. Neither can be worn on the belt, ever.

          Sources:
          OA Sash:
          http://national.oa-bsa.org/pages/content/ask-the-chairman-order-of-the-arrow-sash

          Merit Badge Sash: (See page 31.)
          http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/33066_Section2.pdf

          I’m not meaning to sound mean to anyone here, but these are policies, they aren’t open to what we think, it is very cut and dry. One of the big problems that I see is that people don’t bother to read these guides, and make very incorrect assumptions which can really negatively impact the youth. While I don’t like people to be “uniform police” to others, when a youth hits a board of review looking haphazard, it undermines their credibility and this can cause their hard work to be passed over. So let’s do our youth a favor and look at the policies before pulling opinions out of thin air.

    • Hi S.Moore
      I mean you NO disrespect by this…
      Although I believe being a member of the Order is something which both Youth and Adults should be extremely PROUD of, the sash should not be on “display” as if it were some sort of trophy.
      I encourage the youth and adults to share their experiences in the Order with other Troop members to pique their interest.
      Membership in the Order should be about Service Above Self, not about acknowledgement as being a member.
      AGAIN… This is solely my opinion, and is meant with no disrespect to you OR anyone else.

    • S. Moore: You may personally think the OA sash at a CoH with the MB sash over the belt is acceptable.

      But it simply ain’t Scouting.

      Never let a myth or historic practice trump the Scouting manuals.

      What’s next polka-dot shorts beneath a Scout shirt? Oh! Wait! Some troops in fact allow it….

    • What an uppity troop to think they can designate activities as OA or not in the first place.

    • Interesting. In my region (northern NJ), the reverse practice, i.e. wearing the Merit Badge Sash across the chest and the OA Sash neatly folded over the belt, has been common at “full dress” occasions since I was a boy, nearly forty years ago. This goes far beyond being simply a troop practice — I’ve seen many troops do this, and I’ve seen people do it at Council events.

      • Biff.

        Just because we see people do it, doesn’t make it right. I see people failing to use their directional lights at nearly every intersection when I drive these days, but every one of them is still in danger of being ticketed.

        Just saying.

        • Thanks, Rob. I understand. Really, I do. I’m just pointing out that there are many traditions that are not in sync with the regulations. Sometimes, traditions even end up becoming regulations. (Compare “de jure” and “de facto.”)

          That said, it seems a bit pedantic to argue about someone wearing a belted OA sash on an otherwise squared away uniform when so many troops seem to think that jeans and an untucked Scout shirt constitute a uniform.

          “Just saying.”

          No need to be patronizing.

  5. Our troop OA rep always has the task of giving an OA update on upcoming events, elections, etc. so I consider that working on behalf of the OA. He wears his sash at Troop meetings. The position patch does identify him when he is wearing his uniform other places, and his sash identifies him while he he operating within the capacity of his job.

    • Troop OA Rep is a -troop- position of responsibility, not an OA position.

    • Our troop rep would only wear the sash while making an announcement on behalf of the order. Then remove the sash for the remainder of the meeting.
      Of course boys having trouble keeping track of things, and pockets never seeming to have enough room, we let them hang their sashes from their belts. :(

  6. Don’t forget, there are other insignia items that identify a Scout/Scouter as a member of the OA — the lodge flap and the Order of the Arrow Ribbon Pin.

    • You are 100% right. The OA sash isn’t an award or a showpiece. In fact the intent is to be a bit more humble than that.

  7. I usually wear my Brotherhood sash when I’m attending a Court of Honor, along with my Wood Badge Neckerchief and beads and my Silver Beaver Meda.

  8. Bryan I love it when you stir things up! Looks like you need to reach out to the National OA Chairman again and have him clarify if the Troop OA Representative & OA Troop Advisor should or should not wear their sash at troop meetings and court of honors.

    To me it is redundant and as already mentioned, the lodge flap and position patches clearly let everyone know you are in the Order.

    Here is a chance to have a clear policy, like was finally done with respect to tucking the field uniform shirt in :)

    • Good point. Let me see if I can find out.

      • I think it’s pretty obvious to everyone except those clamoring for reasons to wear it: Troop OA Rep is just that, a troop-level position of responsibility, not an OA functionary. He is working “in service to the unit” not in service of the OA (http://national.oa-bsa.org/pages/content/troop-team-representative) He’s already wearing his lodge flap and a position patch, anyway.

        • J.
          I think the problem is that people like to “bling out.” Surely, in the Cub Scouts we push for arrowheads and belt loops, we encourage heavy shoulders… We like to see Cubs with bling.

          Boy Scouts however aren’t Cub Scouts… The object isn’t to have more bling than everyone else, but rather to help others to learn and grow and (gasp!) maybe even earn as much as you have yourself. I’d call that selflessness in my book…

    • I asked Ray and added his response to the post above.

  9. My understanding is that an OA member should not hang his sash from his belt either. Of course there might be an occasion where that might be better than getting it caught on something and not losing it by laying it down, though a pocket would likely be a safer location.

    As far as recognition, it has been noted that the flap and pocket arrow dangle serve that purpose. “Technically”, it is my understanding that only OA members “current” in their lodge registration should wear insignia, though reality is that few adhere to that in our council based on the number seen versus the number with dues paid. Much of that issue can be put directly on the changes in how members are now selected compared to earlier days when the “honor” was just that, and not simply pretty much a gimme once reaching First Class. JMO of course, but we have only a very small percentage of scouts and scouters that participate past their Ordeal. When the election was not almost automatic it was viewed much more highly and had better participation by members.

    • Wes Fish, well said I agree 110%.

  10. Should anyone be concerned about showing their participation in the OA, they could wear the OA dangle that indicates their level in the OA. That would not interfere with the wearing of the merit badge sash.

    • If you are talking about the miniature sash patch that people hang from the button on the right pocket flap, that isn’t an official Order of the Arrow item. It’s something somebody developed to make money as is the legend strip which is not supposed to be sewn on the back of the sash per national policy.

      The “Uniform and Insignia” section of the Order of the Arrow Handbook (pages 57 – 60 of my 2012 edition) explains that the Universal Arrow Ribbon (previously mentioned by H. David Pendleton) is what is worn on the uniform to signify membership. The lodge flap is an optional item that lodges can issue to help identify their members and promote lodge spirit.
      .
      The first purpose of the Order is to “recognize those who best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives and through that recognition cause others to conduct themselves in a way that warrants similar recognition”, so it seems that the recognition is as important as the example being set. However, the fourth purpose is to “crystallize the Scout habit of helpfulness into a life purpose of leadership in cheerful service to others”. So ultimately, I believe that Arrowmen should be serving others rather than promoting themselves.

      • It is an official item:
        http://www.scoutstuff.org/oa-pocket-device.html

        • BaldEagle641, the item at the website you provide is the Universal Arrow Ribbon to which I referred in my second paragraph. I thought this was clear in my explanation.

          I believe Michael A. Bradshaw, Sr. was referring to the mini sashes based on his description (“the OA dangle that indicates their level in the OA”). The Universal Arrow does not show membership level except for Vigil members who chose to wear the Vigil Honor pin on the ribbon. Again, the Universal Arrow is pictured with an explanation on page 59 of the 2012 edition of the Order of the Arrow Handbook. You won’t find the mini sashes in the Handbook, because they aren’t BSA items.

          For further information and comparison, see the following:
          http://www.scoutinsignia.com/dangle.htm

          This links to The Badge and Uniform Site (v3.0) which is organized by Mike Walton (settummanque) who is a frequent commenter here at Bryan On Scouting. I’m surprised he hasn’t weighed in on this conversation yet, and I recommend his site.

  11. Thanks for the answers to my questions!

  12. Anon Y. Mous // January 27, 2014 at 4:06 pm // Reply

    I think the trick to remember is that the Order of the Arrow isn’t supposed to be about bragging, and I feel like a lot of kids who wear their sash to COH, Eagle Boards, etc. are trying to impress younger scouts. This isn’t the goal of the OA! Leaders ought to be humble, not worry all the time about impressing others. I.E. I’m a DSA (national OA’s award for distinguished service to the OA) recipient, but I never wear my necklace. It’s a big deal and I could brag about it if that was my goal–but it’s not and I don’t want any scout to feel uncomfortable coming to talk to me because they think I’m this unreachable overly-impressive scout leader. All I wear on my uniform is a council strip, unit numbers, and lodge flap, even though I could wear at least 10 of those silly knots.

    • That’s the problem when you judge and assume you know other’s intents. In many cases, I’ve seen people erroneously wear the sash not to brag, but to try to inspire and motivate.
      Just like your comment about knots. I agree, trying to look like a third world dictator is not the goal, but earning and wearing recognition isn’t just about boasting, but it’s also about leading by example – demonstrating you believe training, for example (as in the Scouter’s key or training awards) is important.
      I see leaders all the time who don’t wear their recognition then chew on the boys when they don’t wear theirs.

  13. Mariah Drake // January 27, 2014 at 4:26 pm // Reply

    What about ceremonies such as a Wood Badge beading? Is the adult leader allowed or supposed to where the sash at such an event?

    • Asked and answered. It’s not an OA event.

  14. Actually, since I am involved in the Venturing Program, I dont even wear a lodge flap. First off, since the Order is only open to Venturers who were scouts, and because neither female Venturers nor Venturers who were not members of a troop can be elected to the OA, I dont wear my flap (and since the new Venturing shirt doesn’t lend itself to a Lodge flap). But since I am and continue to proud member of the order, I will wear my Ribbon Recognition device hanging from my Right shirt Pocket.

    I have been told numerous times that the order is a “boy scout program” or more specifically a program feature associated with the boy scout level of the BSA . Should Venturers even wear a OA sash unless specifically on an OA event? (I would likewise not expect to see a cubmaster wearing an OA sash at a pack Court of Honor.)

    • At appropriate times, the sash may be worn with any official uniform, including the Venturing uniform. There is also no rule against the use of the lodge flap with the Venturing Uniform that i can find in the insignia guide. Admittedly, the new shirt doesn’t look right with a lodge flap however, but a lot of folks have chosen to still wear the older shirt which looks like the flap actually belongs there as an alternative.

  15. Something has been said here numerous times, something I sincerely agree with: ECoH’s, especially when the new Eagle is OA, are somewhat an OA event. Especially if I know the new Eagle through the OA, I’ll wear my sash every time.

    Another point: If the scout is involved in Lodge leadership and they know that a troop is perhaps lagging in OA participation, I think that wearing a sash as a matter of course is COMPLETELY acceptable. I know I’ve done this in the past when I was still youth. I don’t really anymore, but Lodge leadership can virtually always justify wearing OA sash—It’s all a matter of which hat they’re wearing at the time.

    • An Eagle Court is not an OA event. The only exception would be if the OA provides an honor guard, and then only the honor guard should be wearing the sash not the Eagle himself.

      • Joseph T. Berlant // January 28, 2014 at 11:50 am // Reply

        Rob, there is an Order of the Arrow Eagle Ceremony developed by a past Region Chief used by some lodges in NE region. That is a Eagle Ceremony done by Order of the Arrow members in full regalia for an Eagle who is an Order of the Arrow member and requests that the OA Eagle Ceremony be used for the presentation of his Eagle. It is not a nationally approved Ceremony but I know of no nationally approved Eagle Ceremony. At that Eagle presentation, the Lodge considers it an Order of the Arrow function and encourages members to wear their sashes.

  16. “and in such other instances as approved by the Scout executive.” This was not addressed in the article. Formerly, I was in a council where lodge membership had dwindled to single-digits. The Scout executive, in an effort to turn thins around, approve OA sash wear to all events to try to increase OA awareness. It worked, and the lodge began to grow again. But the measure was controversial with other lodges in our section. We were at a regional event (not region as in OA; region, as in geographic) where troops from other councils participated. One particularly salty Arrowman/Scouter from another lodge tried to take our boys to task on sash wear. I tried to explain the policy to him, but he remained obstinate and became belligerent to the degree that our troop leadership instructed our boys to walk away when he started his verbal rants. We finally went to the event coordinator, who gave him a “cease-&-desist”, because his behavior was not Scout-appropriate.

    • Erik;

      Council Executives have very broad sweeping power to allow deviations from the Insignia Guide. I’ve seen some authorize private issue knots, and others approve patches for sleeve wear that generally would only go on the right pocket, etc

      That is always their prerogative. But in this day and age of smartphones, do your self a favor… Get a copy of the policy in writing, and have it available for those old codgers… The sanity you save may just be your own. :)

  17. I have to chuckle on some of these discussions. So often adherence to a rule becomes more important than the purpose of the rule itself. As Erik Tisher mentioned the council trying to boost membership – someone insists on fussing over it. Props to the even coordinator who recognized the un-Scouting behavior. Some will fight and fuss while membership dwindles to non-existence because Scouts don’t see it and have no idea what it is all about.
    To me it’s not the sash that makes the arrowman, but the behavior of the man himself. I don’t see how getting too fussy about someone’s uniform errors – intended or not – fits with the life purpose of leadership in cheerful service to others. A simple, reminder of the rule should be the most and it should go out of your mind. If it bothers you beyond that, then maybe the other’s uniform error is not the biggest problem.

    • Well said

  18. Good Morning All,
    Let me start by taking the blame for starting this hooplah.
    I asked what I though was a SIMPLE question,to gain knowledge i didn’t previously have. I recieved a SIMPLE answer giving me that knowledge.
    Then I read the comments………..
    I have been a scouter and involved in scouting since I was 8 years old, I am now 42.
    I completed my ordeal in june of 1987 and my Brotherhood ceremony in 1988. I hope to one day be considered for the honor of Vigil. I am proud of my sash. I am proud to be a member of the OA. I have not always been as active as I would like or even as active as I could have been, but life does that to us, “irksome tasks and weighty responsabilities”.
    I asked this question not as a sourpuss grumbler but to be able to approach the situation from an informed stand point, the answer could have just as well been opposite and I still would have been happy to have gained the knowledge that I was previously lacking.
    I believe in FUN in scouting as much as and most likely more than most. thats what keeps the boys interested, but wearing the uniform signifies the time for respect and order,and should be worn as such. I understand fully that not every boy is going to wear their full, correct uniform to every meeting. I understand that some may not have a full uniform due to any number of circumstances, but it is our job as leaders to teach them what IS correct so that when that time comes they can’t use ignorance as their excuse.
    I have learned a few new things out the comments that I was not aware of and I will be correcting them, I have always displayed my Conclave pins on the back of my sash,
    and have not been corrected on it. I now know thats incorrect. People may inicially react negatively to being told they are doing wrong, I know I certainly have in the past, but I think that stems from anger at them selves for feeling ignorant on the subject.
    If we can all just take a step back and listen when we are coached on an issue we were’t aware of and accept the gift of knowledge being given us things would be considerably less stressful and our focus could be kept where it belongs, making our Troop/Crew , community, Country, World a more informed and knowledgable place.
    I can tell you when my girlfriend reads this she will be shaking her head, I learn my lessons daily and hope to not repeat mistakes, I do the best I can MOST days. I am not perfect, but I strive to be open to KNOWLEDGE.

    ARE YOU???

  19. I’ve been to several funerals for adult Scouters and they have been buried in their Scout uniform complete with sash…discuss.

  20. My biggest pet peeve is when I see an Arrowman wearing the sash on their belt or tucked into their pants. This is often done to show off at a Court of Honor and the person is usually what is often referred to as a “patch and sash” or “sash and dash” member. Those terms are used to describe someone who was inducted into the Order, never returns to another lodge event, but likes to show off their flap and sash. If you are wearing a sash as a trinket to show off then you are missing the point of the OA. As a former ceremonialist, the symbols of the Order are important and should be meaningful in the lives of those having been selected for a life of cheerful service. As a Cub Scout leader I think that its important to teach respect for the uniform we wear. If you are not going to follow uniform guidelines, you set a bad example.

  21. How about designing uniforms with a “sash pocket” or two? Maybe that would work with those canvas shorts?

    I think the over-the-belt method stems from not having any place better to put the sash when transitioning from an OA activity to the next thing!

  22. “Special scouting events” still kind of leave a few things in the air. Like cort of honors and board of reviews. Even though I think a youth should wear a MB sash for a BOR. But thiese events are big in a troop ussualy.and are special to a troop and the members.

    Though being at one troop I was told that the didn’t wear oa saves at COH but another troop who is a big pertispant in the chapter did. What are special events according to this section of the OA book.

  23. Reblogged this on BSA Troop 45.

  24. When he is delivering the announcements, he is performing his job as a TOAR , a Troop position. It is not an OA event. Hence the shoulder patch for the troop position.

  25. Howdy,
    I didn’t get a chance to really read all the comments. I am a District Vice Chair; and Chapter Adviser to the local OA Chapter. I’ve been tasked with working on improving our participation and chapter / lodge events. I’ve many issues I face with the OA here. Most non-arrowmen know the Ordeal in detail. So the perception from the youth is: They make you work, and then they do 2 other things. I really don’t want to explain what those are because arrowmen will know what I’m talking about. The perception of the youth == no fun. The perception of the Leaders is that you are taking by older boys away; and what do they do anyways.

    Let me take it back several years… I went to summer camp as a youth. I admired all of my counselors; and those who worked there. I viewed them as beinging important. I wanted to be important like them. Thursday (tap out was that night) at camp rolled around and every single one of them was wearing this white sash and arrow. I couldn’t talk any of them into explaining what it meant, but it was easy to draw the conclusion; if you want to be important you need that white sash; whatever it meant.

    So back to my current problem; the problem is perception. Since we tend to do things as arrowmen outside of the view of other scouters; I ask my arrowmen to wear the sash more often. When we run community service events; sashes; district functions; sashes. This awareness has contributed into a better relationship with troops; and a better understanding that the ordeal is not everything we do. I now have some Scout Masters calling me for elections.

    Brothers, I too have kept the vigil.

  26. Very Interesting. Nice Clarification

    • VJ Pietrorazio // February 3, 2014 at 9:11 pm // Reply

      Remember brothers, “Seeing the Arrow” is not in reference to the sight of the white sash.

      The Brother who serves not only his troop, but lives his life as a cheerful servant, IS the living Arrow.

      Leave the sash.
      Instead, show the Arrow as crystalized in your character.

      VJ Pietrorazio (Amamgi)
      Section NE-1E
      Past Chief & HMP

  27. I served as an OA Troop Representative for 18 months before I turned 18 (I’m 20 now). I’ve trained numerous other OA Troop Representatives, and I got the program rolling in my lodge.

    Here’s my take: You wear the OA Troop Representative patch and lodge flap at Troop functions. You can use the sash as a PROP, but don’t wear it. Carry it in hand, but don’t WEAR it. The Scouts know what it is, but if it is not an OA event, don’t wear it.

    The only times I wore my OA sash at a non-OA event are 1) troop OA election night; and 2) when I was OATR and I was recognizing Lodge accomplishments at our annual dinner for that past term (Ordeal, Brotherhood, high adventure, etc.). Again, other than that, I had the OA Troop Representative patch and lodge flap.

  28. Why don’t they just make an OA Arrowman Patch or Pin that can be added to the BSA Pin. I know not every Arrowman is a OA Troop Representative. It would eliminate the wearing of both sashes or the confusion of scouts wondering when to wear one or the other. I understand they will have a lodge flap on right pocket and some will have a rep patch. But having a special patch or pin to put on the top of the sash seems like a good idea.

    IMHO.

    Brian

  29. Mike Metzger // July 29, 2014 at 11:06 am // Reply

    It’s good to see that everyone cares and as much as I am a stickler for the rules and proper attire, the fact remains that if a scout wants to display his accomplshments, he earned it, so be it. I will remind them of proper protocol, but if he wants to wear his OA sash at a meeting, I am thankful that he is at the meeting. If he wears the sash over his belt at his Eagle CofH, I congratulate him on earning his rank of Eagle. As a leader and OA member, I will always follow proper uniforming as an example, but I am happy to have active youth even if they don’t follow uniforming to the letter. We are scouts, not he military.

  30. Pam MacCrae // August 18, 2014 at 4:27 pm // Reply

    See pg 31 of SCOUTING magazine Septemer-October 2014 . Why do they have OA sash on if not OA event?

  31. This discussion is a perfect example of “policies gone wild”…uniform nazis abound throughout the BSA, indeed, any organizations with uniforms. While proper uniforming is obviously important, the way corrections are presented & voiced can often show a blatant disregard for the often sensitive feelings of some youth members. A harsh reprimand from a unit, district or council volunteer can do years of harm to some youth. Let’s remember who the principal customer is…our youth members.

    As a new member back in the 60′s, I was so anxious to wear a uniform to my first troop meeting. My mother asked me where to sew each emblem on…I told her it didn’t matter (lol!). I showed up that night looking quite askew, but proud of my new found allegiance. Early in the meeting, a kind leader pulled me aside and kindly explained the error of my ways. He appreciated my enthusiasm, and permitted me to wear the shirt, explaining to the troop that I was so anxious to join them, I directed my mother to just sew them on. He did it in such a way that I felt important (a part if that nights lesson), and following that, was welcomed into the troop by many of my new fellow scouts. An unthinking leader could have made me feel bad & opened me up to ridicule. How we speak makes a difference. I will NEVER forget this.

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