2018 Update: Beginning Feb. 1, 2019, OA unit elections will be permitted in Scouts BSA troops, Venturing crews and Sea Scout ships. Previously, elections only were for Boy Scout troops. This means young women will be eligible for election. Read more here.
The original post follows.
There have been many great women in the Order of the Arrow over the years, all with one thing in common.
They’re 21 or older.
Women under 21 cannot be inducted in the Order of the Arrow, which is the National Honor Society of the Boy Scouts.
Of course, young women 14 or older (or 13 and finished with 8th grade) can join Venturing, a program of the Boy Scouts of America. So what gives?
Order of the Arrow professionals and volunteers get that question all the time. Scouter Herb Dodds, a volunteer in the Garden State Council, asked me recently, so I went to the experts.
This time, not one but two experts weigh in: Peter Self, team leader of Member Experience, and Matt Dukeman, associate director Order of the Arrow.
While this is a common question, the answer is actually quite simple. The Order of the Arrow is a Boy Scout program, not a Venturing program.
It is true that female Venturers under the age of 21 do not qualify for admittance into the Order of the Arrow, but neither do male members of Venturing crews who were not first qualified by their Scoutmaster as having met the admission requirements and then subsequently elected while a registered member in their Boy Scout troop.
Membership into the OA isn’t really a matter of gender. Becoming a member of the Order of the Arrow really speaks to the unique nature and methods used in Venturing and Boy Scouting. The Boy Scout program created an Honor Society called the Order of the Arrow. Currently, the Venturing program has neither created nor authorized an honor society.
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Photo from: Camp Perry, Hidalgo, Texas