What’s a new Order of the Arrow dad to do when his son isn’t yet elected?

expertlogo1At a recent camporee, an assistant Scoutmaster was called out to join the Order of the Arrow, Scouting’s national honor society.

But his son, who is eligible to join the OA, wasn’t elected by his peers this time around.

The assistant Scoutmaster wrote me asking for advice, and I passed his message along to Ray Capp, a volunteer who serves as National OA Committee Chairman.

See the assistant Scoutmaster’s message and Ray’s response below. 

The question

The Scouter, who asked to remain anonymous, writes:

I am an assistant Scoutmaster and was called out to the Order of the Arrow during the most recent camporee. I have a son who was eligible but was not elected by his troop.

I plan to go through my Ordeal weekend, but I’m concerned about how much I should participate in fellowship weekends, OA campouts and any number of other OA-exclusive activities.

A big part of my motivation to participate in Scouting is being present with my son and spending quality time in the outdoors with him and his peers. How have others juggled duty to the Order and duty to the family?

Yours in Scouting,

Concerned OA Dad

The expert’s answer

Ray Capp, National Order of the Arrow committee chairman, responds:

Dear Concerned OA Dad,

The Order of the Arrow Handbook (page 35) says “an Arrowman’s primary responsibility is to the troop or team.” This is not just a maxim from the Handbook or a throwback to the guidance of the founder of the OA. It’s a real-life priority. Lucky for you, your son is a member of your unit!

It’s perfectly fine for a new Arrowman, youth or adult, to focus his service on his unit and participate in only a few or no lodge events, especially while an Ordeal member.

If your son is elected in a future year, you can give service during his Ordeal, attend his Ordeal ceremony and become a Brotherhood member that weekend, too.

In reality, many of the most-effective adults in the OA are those in the unit that promote youth leadership and make sure that all the youth have the ability (rides, help with fees, etc.) to attend lodge and chapter events. Then, during troop calendar planning, adults make sure the troop leaves the ability for the youth to go to both troop outings and OA events by avoiding double-booking.

Also, each Scoutmaster may appoint an adult adviser to the OA Troop Representative, and that’s a great way for an adult to serve the OA while being at a troop meeting.

Many nonmembers believe that the only way an Arrowman can be productive is go to OA events. This is not so. You can make a huge difference in the lives of countless boys in your unit by being a member who encourages the OA in the life of the unit. Then you get to spend time with your son, as well!

In my own case, I was elected as a youth member and enjoyed my OA time immeasurably. But I did not attend any lodge events until my own son was elected, and we went to his first event together. It was a great time, and I do not regret keeping my focus on the troop and the troop OA program until he was judged worthy to become a candidate by the youth of our troop.

Yours in Scouting,


Your thoughts?

Let’s keep this conversation going in the comments section. Share your advice for Concerned OA Dad below.

Photo from the OA Facebook page


  1. Here’s the thing- adult leaders are admitted to OA for one reason, namely to provide service to the Order. I think the best thing to do would be to provide the level of service to the lodge that you would normally provide, thus modeling the behavior you’d like to see from your son upon his election to OA.

  2. I was very glad that my younger brothers had the chance to be in the OA. The opportunity, never came to me, and the troop was on life support when I reached Eagle. I did mistakenly get tapped at my first scout camp though. (It was raining and the guy who was supposed to get tapped wore the same color poncho and had similar color hair. He went on to become a Doctor if my memory serves.

  3. Two comments:

    1) Ray is ABSOLUTELY right. So often do we Arrowmen forget how important service to the unit is. The OA is meant to supplement, not take away from the unit!!!

    2) A bit of a personal comment: My older brother was elected into the OA in the early 1980’s, and then my father the next year after him. A couple years later in 1984, I myself got elected in, and both my dad and brother were on hand to welcome me into the OA.(and put up with a ton of questions from me!) When I sealed my membership in 1986, my brother was one of the ceremonialists who conducted my Brotherhood Ceremony… Flash forward to present time. I was very proud to attend both my son’s, and my wife’s Ordeal and Brotherhood ceremonies as they got to become part of the order. Someday, I’d wish to be a part of my grandchildren’s ceremonies too should the Great Spirit be willing to let me. I consider these moments to be some of my proudest and most treasured Scouting memories.

    • I make an effort to attend every Ordeal ceremony where someone from my troop is joining the OA. Not just to welcome new brothers but I want them to know I think servce is important.

  4. I wholeheartedly agree with the response. To me, the OA is about promoting service and camping, not just service to the lodge or camping with the lodge. Sometimes I think that gets lost with the ‘honor society’ moniker the OA has adopted. Encourage scouts to camp and give service at the unit level – which is where 99% of scouting takes place anyway.

  5. No one should accept appointment or election unless they plan to be active in the OA. Too many Scoutmasters approve the eligibility for election for scouts that are too young to understand what they are being selected for or to. It’s a flap and sash that are earned for one weekend, nothing more. Hence, “Sash and Dash”.

    Like many scouters, this ASM is in scouting to support the activity of their son. He is in this for his son and coincidentally or accidentally for the rest of the troop. The key is to think above that and realize your membership and position are separate from your Son’s; and the “Dad” label frankly should always be left home. Yes, your son should be calling you Mr. So and So, not dad, and if your son can’t make a weekend trip because of school or discipline, your commitment to the program should always commit you to attending as planned.

    Want to send a message on your commitment to Scouting? Come on a camping trip without your son.

    Setting up additional fellowship weekends with the OA without your son is not likely to go over well with your spouse or partner. Take your Ordeal or not, and then let your son have his own separate OA experience. He doesn’t want you to be helicoptering over him in the OA anyway. If you don’t plan to be active. Don’t accept appointment. (Leaders are not elected).

    • Sorry, had to down vote your reply. You forgot at least 1/12th of the Scout Law. “A scout is KIND.” I don’t know this dad’s life. I know that he is seeking to spend time with his son. Along the way, I am sure he is helping others who don’t have a dad so interested.

      As stated, there are many ways to support the OA aside from direct service. And for the most part, youth members don’t take any additional obligation outside to continue the very thing that caused them the honor of being elected. First and foremost the OA is an honor society.

      I will just say that should the dad go through his ordeal, I would hope he would consider jumping in when possible for a call for help. Last spring the OA put in a huge service moving campsites for Webelos so that the camp didn’t lose capacity due to lake flooding.

    • Bryan or any other OA expert,

      I’d like to see a response to yoam’s 2nd sentence: “Too many Scoutmasters approve the eligibility for election for scouts …” What exactly is it that the SM is approving? Is he approving that the scout has met the requirements to be on the ballot (registered, 1st class +, and 15 days of camping), or is the SM allowed to decide whether something beyond those requirements should be considered? The wording on the Blue Cards was changed about a year ago because of SMs who didn’t understand what they were approving. In the case of an OA election, my guess is well meaning but incorrect SMs think they can decide whether or not a scout is qualified based on some arbitrary measures they set (he’s not old enough, doesn’t have enough merit badges, doesn’t show enough leadership skills, etc.), not simply the BSA/OA requirments. And of course there are also all of those not so well meaning SMs who think they can do whatever they want to do regardless of BSA rules or guidance (as Ask Andy would call them, “tin gods”). It’s sad, but most likely necessary, that the OA wording, like Blue Cards, needs to be changed to clarify what the SM is approving to protect the Scouts from SMs who don’t know better or care.

      • From the Guide to Inductions appendix.

        “Unit leader approval. To become eligible for election, a Boy Scout or Varsity Scout must be registered with the Boy Scouts of America and have the approval of his unit leader immediately prior to the election. The unit leader must certify his Scout spirit (i.e., his adherence to the Scout Oath and Law and active participation in unit activities). The unit leader must also certify that the nominee meets all specified requirements at the time of this annual election.”

        IMHO it’s VERY important that the SM understands that once he approves Scouts for election, it’s a done deal and he cannot change his mind after the fact. I had one SM approve a Scout, then when he got elected, tried to intimidate the election team into scratching the name off the elected list. I had to intervene, and the SM used some very un-Scoutlike language trying get me to change the election results.

      • Thanks for asking me to expand. I typed that fast and my points may have come out a bit mixed.

        A scout can cross over at 10 with the arrow of light and be first class at early at 11, and if he hits summer camp with an active camping troop that camps every month, can be eligible in the spring of his 6th grade.

        The scoutmaster can say that his scout spirit is not developed enough to be eligible. This can be a catch all for not mature enough.

        Maybe im a dinosaur, but I would put forward that some 11 year olds aren’t ready for an OA commitment, nor are able to know what that commitment really is. The Scoutmaster can help his boys get more out of the OA by waiting a bit for it.

    • Have to take issue with your assertion that the dad title should be left at home. I am always my boys dad. My job as dad never, ever drops no matter what I may be doing. Whether it is teacher, coach, or Scout Leader. What kind of dad does that?

      • I hope no one actually forgets that you are your son’s dad. Symbolicly, leaving the “dad” title home has several positive points. Number one, it makes all the scouts feel the same. Ones with guys that happen to be their dads at home, and ones that may not even have a dad. Its like wearing the uniform, metaphorically making everyone on the same playing field for scouting. Number two, in our troop, the leaders that have son’s along avoid any discipline or helicoptering over their boy. That one item removes the preference some Scoutmaster’s boys have in dysfunctional troops. It also allows me to not think my boy’s actions are mine as well to defend. Unless a safety issue is involved, if I see my son up to something he should not be, I whisper to another adult leader to deal with it. We also do not assign patrol mentor ASM’s to their scouts patrol. We are a big troop this works for us. I can see that in smaller troops that are the norm today, that what I am talking about is an alien concept, but put forward that this is one reason why we have grown from 10 scouts to 90 in five years.

        • It’s one thing to leave the “Dad” moniker at home, but another to abrogate the role completely. Yoam makes a great point about still being a Dad without waving the Dad-flag. Both my sons were in troops where I was active. Both knew I could privately be Dad when ocassion called for it. But both also knew that Scouting was one my Dad-tools, not just an excuse for me to spend time with them.

    • As I was told by a yery wise man . It is not the Scoutmasters place to aprrove if a boy gets in to the OA. It is his fellow scouts. If a Scoutmaster does not let a boy go into the OA he is doing A DISSERVES TO SCOUTING AND TO THE BOY .

      • It is the SM’s place to insure a scout has ‘Scout spirit’ rather than placing him on the ballot simply because he has achieved rank and camping requirements. Youth being declared eligible by the SM when they aren’t helpful to others, don’t participate, etc., is why many troops have ‘elected’ every youth as soon as they achieve 1st Class. That rank means they can take care of themselves, and demonstrate it, not that they display the traits of an OA Brother.

  6. Hello OA Dad,

    Ray has certainly given good counsel. I might suggest one particular thing you can do in the Troop, both for the Scouts and for the OA.

    Your son is in a difficult situation. He was not elected by his peers. I can say from very personal experience that really, really can hurt. You can do a great service to him and other Scouts in similar situation by helping them understand why they were not elected and what they can do to change things so they will be chosen next time. It’s particularly difficult because a Scout competes only against himself in OA elections. There is nothing to keep every eligible Scout from being elected if that is the wish of the Troop.

    And a final thought. As an adult, you were not elected. Rather, you were selected by your Troop as a person who will help make the OA meaningful in the lives of your Troop members and other youth.

  7. I like Ray’s comment but think the new OA Member should go to OA events as well. It is certainly a great experience to go through Scouting events with your son, but you are not an Adult Leader for your son. You are an Adult Leader for Scouts. If you are any type of leader worth your salt (and being elected into the OA says YES YOU ARE), then you would (and should) show that leadership and mentorship to those currently in the OA at Events as well as help your Unit.

    You do not have to go in whole hog but I would participate at OA Events. If you do take on the OA Adult Rep position in the Unit it would set a good example for your current Arrowmen and participate. Think of the example you can set AND be up on current events and activities to promote to your Unit!

    Congrats on being selected!

  8. It can be difficult, but then again so is anything in life. Take this as a learning experience, grow from it. I agree with service to the unit, but to say its OK to forget all lodge functions is a bit short sighted as the lodge relies on its membership to provide the quality of service to to the units in their council. Also, many who neglect Brotherhood aren’t using the OA to benefit the unit. There are great youth leadership opportunities by participating in OA.

  9. I became part of the OA when I was a scout years ago and my son is a new scout who just bridged last winter. It does seem odd at times for me to put my uniform on and go to an event that doesn’t include him. I look at it as motivation, not just for my son but all the scouts, make first class, camp, camp, camp and really show scout spirit and you too can participate.

    • Same boat, elected as a youth, now oldest son is a Boy Scout. He just got First Class and is eligible. While I hope he gets elected, if not I won’t be complaining. I hope he takes it as a learning expereince and grows from it. The third time I was on the ballot was the lucky one for me.

      I too have kept the Vigil.

  10. Agree with Ray. I was called out as an adult and was active in OA activities until our son aged out. My service now is being a Unit Commissioner for three Cub Scout Packs and the Charter Rep for two my church sponsors. Nothing makes a pack meeting quiet down fast as when Allowat Sakima and Kitchkenet or Nutiket enter in full regalia for a crossover ceremony.

    • Not to be too nit picky, but. . .

      I agree that quality ceremonialists make a huge impact on younger scouts and I love to see their reaction when a MIGHTY CHIEF, a MEDICINE MAN, a GUIDE, and a GUARD. Please remember that names of the principals should not be used prior to the Pre-Ordeal Ceremony (see Guide to Inductions).

      We don’t want to do anything to lessen the symbolic progression of the OA induction sequence.

  11. I’m a lapsed arrow-man, so concerned OA dads should take what I say with that grain of salt …

    1. Budget your time. Go where you’ll do the most good. Some adults will do more good occupying their time with Lodge life, others, not so much. In my case, I needed to help start and maintain a venturing crew. I got a lot of help from O/A members, and have yet to free up time to return the favor. They’re a gracious lot, and have been okay with it. Obviously, if we all only did venturing or if we all only did Lodge life … some kids would miss out on program.

    2. Kids notice when they get left behind (like my daughter did when she was in Jr. High and I was taking my boys to camp). You are right to be sensitive to that. On the other hand, they don’t seem to notice when they leave you behind. 😉 So, when your son starts seizing opportunities for the pinnacle scouting experience of hiking and camping independently with his mates (and maybe a couple of leaders at a distance)… then maybe you can take a peek at the lodge calendar. 8) Moreover, as he becomes more independent and responsible, his peers will be more likely to elect him.

    Finally, stay in touch … either by talking to the lodge advisor when you’re at round-table or asking your troop O/A Rep to give you the run-down, or looking for a service you can perform while at camp.

  12. Sorry, time to rethink OA entirely. As a youth the election process was different. a Patrol in my troop outnumbered us and elected themselves sin over and over, to the exclusion of the rest of the troop. My father could have joined at any time – but would have been without me in OA. He chose to wait. Neither of us ever entered OA, and at this point we won’t – I have told people in my troop that I will turn down election to OA every time, so don’t waste it on me.

    • There is no place for cliques in Scouting. If deserving youth were being excluded from election because of favoritism or competition between patrols, the SM and SPL should have been restructuring the patrols so that the membership numbers were equal, and even discussing with all members the ways of a Scout, and what criteria they were to use when voting. There is not now, and has never been, any reason all eligible Scouts couldn’t be elected at the same time. If your troop only allowed a few Scouts to be elected at a time, or the SM and SPL allowed one patrol to dominate the elections repeatedly, I’m very sorry. That is not the way elections are to be conducted. As an adult leader, no one should allow that to happen. Please don’t allow the wrong-doings of some to sour you on OA. There are many wonderful opportunities for OA members to serve their units, districts, councils, and camps. There are just as many opportunities for them to experience a kind of brotherhood you can only imagine until you participate in it. If you are still considered a youth in your unit, speak with the SPL, SM, and the other members of leadership to end that behavior. If you are an adult, speak with the SM, and even the COR if needed. If one group is being allowed to rule the elections, they are probably running many more things in the troop.

  13. I had the exact situation now that my son is in I waited and we will do our brotherhood together this year. This is one way to help with the issue. Remember cheerful service before what level you are at in the order.

  14. Ray gives some great counsel. Go to your Ordeal, for their are rarely a big batch of adult leaders in the troop that understand OA and can advise /assist scouts in this arena. Every troop can really benefit from an ASM-OA, guiding the OA Rep, and probably taking this burden off the Scoutmaster. Strong adult leaders understand the OA, and best serve their troop and their Lodge by communicating what goodness of OA to all those youth.

  15. A Scoutmaster and Arrowman’s perspective-
    Foremost we are a brotherhood in fellowship. Words we say. What do those words mean though when our brotherhood does not consider the connundrum we may put future members in? How much greater joyful service would Dad have been eager to contribute if someone had thought to delay his nomination until his son was elected? I am careful to make certain that eligible dads and sons are called out together. Doing so creates another bond, creating extra energy and benefit beyond just their relationship.

    In this situation, dad should have a visit with his son about unmet expectations and what it looks like to manage those situations. He should then devote his time where it is most effective, most likely in the troop with his son and troop mates. Unfortunately, OA does not consider service outside the lodge as meritorious for advancement or honor within the lodge brotherhood.

    OA is a worthy organization when it is outwardly focussed such as trail work and ArrowCorps. However, it seems members want to be more exclusive at the local level by recognizing ONLY lodge participation, rather than inclusive as is represented by the qualifications for election.

  16. It would seem the unit called out the adult leader too soon. It would have been more appropriate to have the leader called out at the same time the Scout was elected. This would allow a shared experience for the son and father, as well as logically becoming more involved with the OA as the son may.

    • excellent point. why was there a need to underscore the scout’s non election by appointing the father on the same election sheet? totally thoughtless, thank you for pointing this out.

    • Depending upon the circumstances, the father’s nomination by the troop committee could have taken place before the unit election. Gotta remember some troop committees meet once a month or so, so they may have done the adult nomimation before the unit election ever took place.

      Also, some SMs do NOT (emphasis not shouting) want to know the electin results untilthe Call Out ceremony. Grant you not many, but I have encountered it. So the troop may not have known who was lected and who was not.

  17. My son is in the OA and has reached brotherhood. I think that getting into OA should be based strictly on meeting requirements, and not be the popularity contest that it has become . I have seen more than one boy who is more than deserving not get in, only because of popularity not merit. I was told that they should think of it like this, is he a good scout and if you were lost in the woods is this someone you would want with you ? Yes, than you vote them in. But what I see happening ( In other troops not ours ) is that I really don’t like hanging out with you, your not very cool so no I am not going to vote you in. Than there are elections that are poorly run by boys that do not understand the how the vote is to be counted. My son walked around heart broken for a week thinking he was the only one who did not get into OA in his group. Turns out the boys running it, did not understand the rules of the election. In other troops I have seen the boys and leaders be callus bullies going against everything that scouting stands for, yet they are the ones getting in to OA . I know its not every troop but I have seen it in two different troops ( not my sons ) and is sickening to see two wonderful scouts who probably would have made it to Eagle leave scouting all together because of AO elections .

    • I hate to say it, but it sounds like those units have bigger issues than OA elections.

      Can not getting elected be disappointing? Absolutely. While I was not upset the first time I was not elected, it was under the old rules and I was “running against” the SPL, ASPL, and other members of the Leadership Corps who were worthier than me to get into the OA,

      But the second time I was not elected, I admit I was a bit miffed. But upon reflection, we should not have done an OA election the week after receiving new Cross Overs who knew no one in the troop. PLC fixed that problem the next year.

      The idea behind the troop electing members is that the troop’s membership knows better than any Arrowman outside their unit who shuld be a member.

      • Going through this with my son. He has been voted down 3 Times. He is very, very involved with his troop. Has achieved perfect attendance every year, attends ALL camp outs /hikes and participates in ALL service projects. He has attended camp the last 2 years. Unfortunately, the troop is pretty “clique-y”. Almost all the boys are involved in sports. My son has a disability and is not sportys. The boys seem to vote in ALL their team mates and youger brothers. Like I said my son does not participate in sports so Scouts is his only activity. He is a Life Scout and I would hate to see him get discourage (& embarrased again) and quit. He is a quirky kid and not many boys in the troop have made an effort to get to know him. So year after year he gets overlooked for OA. He also has another “strike” against him. He is the only scout in his troop without a Dad. Many of the OA scouts have OA dad’s. My ex husband is a disabled Army Veteran who now lives in another state.
        Rather than a spirit of brother, the whole OA process is nothing but a popularity contest. Very disappointing.

  18. We often forget the purpose of OA. Please correct me if I have been given the wrong idea….Is it not to honor those Scouts that exemplify the ideals of Scouting and to give those Scouts elected to it ranks the opportunity to serve even more?
    That encouragement “to cheerfully serve” need be given by example, by instruction and/or by brow beating. Which do you think is more efficacious ? One may fulfill the OA ideals by working in their Scout Unit or Camp or District or…
    I was Brotherhood waaaay back in 1965, and lapsed and picked up the feather again when I became a adult Scouter for my son, I rarely attend specific OA events or projects, but “cheerfully serving” in many (many!) other roles has shown other Scouts and Scouters where my heart lies.
    My District OA rep and I get along fine, altho I may only see him at Roundtables and camporees and IOLS…..

  19. After reading the comments posted thus far I wanted to chime in. I did not have the experience of being selected for OA before my son. I did miss my own call out however, which would have been at the same time my son was called out. I did not go through Ordeal with him either for reasons similar to why I missed Call Out. In my case this turned out to be a good thing. My son got his own experience and later commented he was glad he did. He was there when I did Ordeal. The tables were turned this year when I completed Brotherhood. He felt he was not prepared, which is perfectly fine. He did feel prepared later in the year when another opportunity came up and he was able to complete his Brotherhood. I was on hand for his ceremony and was quite proud of him.

    OA is about Service. Service to Unit, Service to the Lodge, Service to Others, Service to Scouting. These are things I have learned while in the OA and I expect there are other things to learn as well. I do note however that of the four points I mentioned, Lodge is only 1 part. Each portion is not equal, the Service portion is. Taking part in Lodge events is important to reaffirm our obligation but it isn’t the most important thing we can do as Arrowmen for our Lodge. When we attend a Unit meeting (as ASM, SM, Commissioner, Committee Member, etc) and we provide the best example we can of what it means to be a Scout and Serve Others, we are fulfilling our Obligation. The purpose of OA is to set that example and help show others the way.

    Dad vs SM/ASM, etc – this one is a tough one. I am the SM for my troop. I made a decision to have my son address me as “Mr.” while at scout events. I discussed it with him though. I am still Dad. There will be times at scout events that “Dad” is going to be more important that “Mr.”. I wanted him to help me make that distinction clear with the other Scouts and to help reinforce the sense of respect due when dealing with adults. “Dad” does not get left at home, he just takes a back seat while the SM does his job. He is always ready to take over when he is needed.

    As a further example the adults in my unit have begun to follow the other example I have set and we refer to each other formally as “Mr.” when the occasion calls for it. We do have our informal moments.

    “What is a Scoutmaster approving?” – I’d kind of like to know an answer to this myself. My opinion is simple – is/will the scout candidate be a benefit to the ideals of the OA? If the SM has done his job and promoted the ideals of Scouting the answer should be “Yes”. The approval of the SM further stems from other areas where the approval of the SM is required. Any appointed leadership position in the troop requires the concurrence of the SM. Note I said “appointed”. Troops which follow the guideline of the SPL appointing his own officers (ASPL, Scribe, etc) will have the SM involved in these appointments. Both as a training tool for the SPL to learn to interview candidates and make choices (and live with those choices afterwards) and as a means to ensure the candidate understands what they are accepting if the position is offered to them.

    Membership in the OA is a Leadership position. It is not a formal office such as Scribe, but it is a Leadership position. Members of the OA are expected to serve their fellow scouts in word and deed and set an example of what Scouting is and can be. That is the essence of Leadership, setting an example you want others to follow.

    I’ve rambled long enough. Back to the original point of the OA Dad. Set the example, provide the support your son, and the other scouts, need. Help the troop to better understand what it means to be a Scout. If they all, including your son, understand and strive to live up to that, the chance of your son being elected the next time around will go up.

  20. “”It’s perfectly fine for a new Arrowman, youth or adult, to focus his service on his unit and participate in only a few or no lodge events, especially while an Ordeal member.

    If your son is elected in a future year, you can give service during his Ordeal, attend his Ordeal ceremony and become a Brotherhood member that weekend, too.””

    I wonder how if they Follow this advice they can be expected to get Brotherhood? Do Lodges give out Brotherhood to members who have not been active? Are Lodges just handing out Brotherhood to look good on Paper?

    Never once as a youth or as an Adult OA member was I forced to decide Troop Event or an OA Event…Being a Scout and an OA Member never interfered with the other. Never missed a Troop meeting or Weekend activity and I never missed an OA Function..I served my Troop in Leadership Roles and I served my Lodge as a Quatermaster on our Lodge Council, even did Ceremonies and assisted the Dance Teams.

    I wish I had Followed in my Dad’s footsteps while he was alive..Unfortunately he passed before I got old enough..I did follow him in Scouts, he just watched it from Heaven. Will his son be inspired to Act as an OA Member if Dad was doing nothing other than “Sash and Dash”…will he expect to get Brotherhood handed to him if Dad get Brotherhood and not earning it?

  21. I understand the reason behind the original question. When confronted with a similar situation, our Scoutmaster decided not to do his Ordeal. That’s a valid decision.

  22. Most of us are Dads, thus why we are in scouting, I personally still have my son, who is my ASPL right now call me Dad. That said it happens so rarely in the mixed crowds that there are those who are shocked the first time they hear it as they had no idea he was my son. I kid you not. I don’t see DAD as something I can choose to be or not be, just as I don’t get to sometimes be the scoutmaster and sometimes not. It’s who I am, all the time, period. Now what that looks like it another thing, and I will say there are times I have to look at my son and tell him, yep, sounds like you are in a pickle, go figure it out…. and he will give me the “but DAAAAAAAD” speech, with isn’t that different from the other scouts in teh troop “but SCOUTMASTERRRRRRRR” speech…. in fact they are identical.

    As far as OA is concerned I challenge my leaders to allow OA to be a separate experience for them and their sons. Even if they are both involved this is a way to allow the scout to grow deeper in their own ability to lead and to serve. That said I do encourage the scouts to be a part of their parents experience with OA if they desire it. That 1st weekend can be a fun experience for the son to have the ability to be the one with the experience for the first time.

    As far as this question is concerned, it shows a few things. Firstly that the elections team was doing things properly and the scoutmaster was not manipulating the results. Kudos to them in that regard. Secondly the son is already aware that his father was chosen. His own feelings may be hurt that he was not, but this is also a learning experience to look at why not and what is the proper response to being chosen even if it doesn’t align with what you were hoping for. My guess is the scoutmaster was surprised that eh son wasn’t elected too, but maybe not. A candid conversation with the son and the scoutmaster would be helpful. Why did the committee chose him? Perhaps there is a need within the Troop that they are hoping he can fill with the OA (like the OA ASM) If his son was elected but his best friend was not would the father want his son to chose not to participate because of his son’s friend’s feelings? This is an opportunity to show mature responses to disappointments in life.

    That said several times in the comments the subject of the spouse has come up. Please, if you are involved in scouting be on the same page as your spouse in your involvement with the program. If Scouting is causing marital issues and family fights you are doing it wrong. Scouting is to supplement the family life and enhance the experience. If it’s a source of bitterness and contention in the family it’s time to take a step back and re-evaluate the level of involvement. As a scoutmaster I have plans for the troop going out for the next 2-3 years. I do so to get buy in from my wife as major trips and commitments will impact her as well. More than once I have gotten excited about a new idea to quickly realize after talking with my wife that it would be a major issue for her and cause problems between us (yes even the scoutmasters can be selfish with time commitments sometimes) Thus the ideas get tweaked to something my wife and I can both be happy with or they get cancelled. Of course this conversation with the wife happens before I share it with the scouts as there is nothing worse than telling the scouts about this great idea to then go back and say, yeah, no that isn’t going to happen. My wife is my biggest supporter in scouts, and encourages me to push the troop and the program to bigger and better things, but it’s always a balance of keeping family first too.

  23. On the OA aspect of this conversation, Ray said it all. On the “dad” aspect of this conversation, dads (and moms) involved in their Scout’s unit should recognize the time when the Scout or Venturer would like to know his/her parent is supportive, but not “around” all the time. That may mean only coming to certain events, or being at all events but not close by.

  24. I think Ray was correct in his answer – BUT – I think that he did not go far enough for encouragement.

    The Ordeal is an HONOR, and therefore if you were called out – you have a full year of those events to attend so that when your son does get elected – you can walk with him and tell him that which is about to happen. Be a true Brother (and an ATM)

    We had a kid terrified to go to Conclave after his Ordeal – as he thought it was going to be another weekend of cracking rocks and harassment. He took the day pass to Conclave and his mouth was open all day at what was being offered.

    The moral of the story? Too many adults believe the OA takes kids from troop activities. Too many adults think that High Adventure Patrols take away from troop activities. Too many adults believe that breathing air takes away from troop activities. These ARE troop activities!!!

    I have a kid that hates camping. He’s going to be elected in the OA – and dragged to his ordeal – and then dragged to Conclave – by me. And ya know what – after his Ordeal – I think Camping will be awesome for him. As now most of the troop who are in the OA – refuse to sleep in a tent.

    Your perspective is everything. If it’s negative – that is how your troop will be looked at.

    • My older scouts have become “tent optional” partly due to O/A, partly venturing, and partly due to the number of tarps that can be bought for the price of a tent!

  25. My thoughts.

    For those that think the current OA election process is “unfair,” does anyone remember the pre-1990s (I think 1994 or 95 was when it changed) election process where you could only vote for half of those eligible? While it was possible to get everyone on the ballot elected if you had an odd number eligible, in the number of years I participated in and conducted OA unit elections it only happened once, and I found out at the Ordeal after that election that the SM rigged it so 🙁 ( don’t ask).

    I don’t remember this much anguish and complaining back then. Yes I didn’t get elected the first time as a 12 year old First Class Scout, but I also realized those on the ballot were older ( 14 – 17), served in leadership positions longer [they not only did their time as PLs, but were members of the Leadership Corps ( equivilent today’s venture patrol], and had exemplified what it meant to be an Arrowmen. Just being on the ballot with them was an honor.

    And while I admit I was miffed that I didn’t get elected the second time, I didn’t whine and complain, but rather learned from the experience.

    An aside: NEVER HOLD OA ELECTIONS THE WEEK AFTER YOU GET NEW BOY SCOUTS FROM CROSS OVER CEREMONIES (emphasis). According to OA policy, they are members of the troop, and are eligible to vote even if they do not know anyone yet.

    Third time was the charm.

    As for why the troop’s Scouts vote for whom they think deserves to be in the OA, it’s because they should know who is truly worthy of the honor. Have I seen unit elections turn into popularity contests? Yes. I didn’t like it; had to deal with it, and was thankful it wasn’t my troop doing it.

    The key to the OA is SERVICE! While our primary obligation is to the unit we are in whether it’s a Troop, Ship, or Crew for youth, or Troop, Ship, Pack, or Crew for us old fogeys, we need to make some time for the OA. It doesn’t have to be much. It could be attending a chapter meeting, helping with an OA workday or Ordeal, going to conclave or fellowship, working the OA fundraiser. Just do something.

    Finally for those that think the OA will steal their youth, HOGWASH! The OA provided me additional activities and opportunities that kept me involved. And this was back in the day before such phenominal opportunities like OA Trail Crew at Philmont, OA Ocean Adventure at Sea Base, and OA Voyage at N. Tier.

  26. I would definitely agree with what Mr. Capp said. Your service is always to your troop first and lodge second. It is just a matter of time before he gets in as well.

  27. Good commentary thus far, excellent comment from Ray Capp.

    To any nominated OA adult: your nominated was sealed based upon two actions: 1. one youth Troop member was elected at a recent Troop meeting this year, 2. the adult met the same requirements excluding being a FIRST CLASS scout.

    Moreover, the nomination is done to further one’s involvement in one’s Unit AND the local Lodge by providing skills the youth members may not have nor provide. Also, as an adult, you will serve as a Role Model to the Unit’s members!

    Lastly, your service to the lodge can be as simple as attending events AND providing necessary transportation for any willing Unit member to attend thusly…

    OA Youth elections can be a poor source to foster or recognize one’s accomplishments. Too many youth members, including myself as a Scout, looked at the Unit Elections as a distasteful experience…

    Go, complete your Ordeal, inspire the non-OA members of your Unit, share little with your son should he become elected in the future, you would not desire his experience to become tainted….


  28. What a great learning experience. Dad should participate in the OA and promote the OA in his unit to inspire his son and others to WANT to be in the OA. Dad & son should have a long discussion as to why they THINK the son wasn’t elected and then adjust his behavior going forward for the next year.

    I’ve found the OA elections to be a very honest reflection from the boys and teaches the greatest lesson of all, that people ARE ALWAYS PAYING ATTENTION even when you think they aren’t. If a boy is eligible and doesn’t get voted in, there’s probably good reason behind it. Maybe he “disappears” when its his time to do KP. Maybe he’s the kid who won’t shut up when its lights out at camp. Maybe he never steps up to help teach others or give guidance to younger scouts.

    Never forget, we’re here to help them GROW, not “shelter” them from rejection or make sure everyone gets a trophy. You WANT it? You got to EARN it!

  29. Since the youth election must be held first, if you don’t plan on being active (or not allowed to be active) if your son isn’t elected as well, then you should decline your nomination and let another adult have it. If you let the Scoutmaster know ahead of time that this is your intention, I’m sure they could tip you off as to the results (if your troop keeps them secret until call-outs)

  30. Here’s what I did. I was elected as a youth in 1981 and went through Ordeal. When I came back into scouting as an adult, at OA I kept getting asked about Brotherhood, and I replied I would go through Brotherhood when my son went through Ordeal. It was awesome because I was able to see him several times throughout his weekend (covertly) as part of our process. Then, the following year, I was there with him when he went through his Brotherhood.

  31. Parent and scout can enjoy and be involved in scouting independently, together, or both. There are lots of parents who have more interest in scouting than their kids, and that’s ok. Those adults are making a difference in the lives of many young people. Being involved ONLY for our own kids is a narrow-minded way to be in the program.

  32. I was selected for OA last year and went ahead without my son. He kept putting off is SM review and wasn’t first class yet. The troop was able to select multiple adults and I qualified (some did not due to not enough camping or not being registered). If I waited, I might not get in this year if/when my son could be selected.
    So I went, I’ll go for brotherhood if my son is selected. Or I’ll wait until the next year and hope he or his younger brother is selected. No, I’m not doing a lot with OA without them. But it is extremely difficult to dump 2 boys on their mother with all the activities we all have, unless I’m with at least one of them. Work requires that, more than enough of the time.
    Scouting is beneficial to our lives, and certainly a positive. But its not the only thing.

  33. We have a young man who was nominated and not elected for several years, our Scoutmaster decided not to put Dad through the process until the son was elected. This year he was, I am glad the boys decided to elect him. I think it boils down to the boys in the unit being told it isn’t a popularity contest and that everyone on the ballot is worthy of being in the OA. That is what the boys were told this time around and it seemed to work.

  34. Follow your heart. Every boy deserves a father who gets into scouting for his son and wants to share that journey with him

    There is plenty of time down the road to do more outside the unit, a lifetime, but time with your son as a scout, is constrained to a timeline of his youth.

    We forget that the primary gift of scouting is giving young men and women good role models, mentoring, instilling goals and self worth. Walking the journey to adulthood with them

    Nothing is more fitting this tradition than a dad who wants to help his son along on the journey. Your son and all the boys in your troop are blessed sir. Think about it folks, a Dad who is devoted to his son. My Dad did it for me and I did it for my boys. And we are all better for having walked the journey together.

    Bill Hodges
    Scoutmaster, Eagle Scout 1974, father of Eagle Scout 2009

    • Your statement describes almost exactly why I am in Scouting in the first place. My son and I did our OA ordeal together last year and plan on becoming Brotherhood members together this Summer. It’s fun! We are practicing the OA obligation and song in the car when we go to Scout events. I’m glad that I can share the journey with him.

      Lee Gettelfinger
      Scoutmaster, Troop 852 Mequon WI

  35. Although I appreciate the response, I have to ask – What if your son isn’t elected because it’s become a popularity contest? My son & his friend have been eligible twice and have many service hours racked up already. They would *love* to be in the OA because he is all about cheerful service…but the boys in the Troop – especially the new Scouts – have no idea what OA is about or why they should elect them.

    The same could be said for 4 other boys in the Troop (we had 8 eligible and only 2 elected this year – one which was elected last year, didn’t do his Ordeal and rarely shows up for service hours).

    What do you do when it becomes a popularity contest (and I have to say although the OA members that come to do the election try to explain what it means, most of the Scouts don’t understand it’s significance).

    Also, does anyone know if the OA Adult requirements were changed? Or if a Lodge or District can change them? There was an adult that was elected that didn’t meet the usual requirements…I’d appreciate a link if they were. Thanks!

  36. The OA is about cheerful service, so the best way to handle this situation is to serve. Participate in many of the activities offered to you. It will help who ever the project or trip is benefiting, your lodge will be grateful that your active, and it will encourage your son and all of his fellow scouts to strive to be the best they can. The Order of the Arrow is an honor so take advantage of the opportunity and be a role model for your troop.

  37. Scouting is supposed to be for the boys (scouts) with the parents (scouters) as their support group. It is my personal opinion developed from 53 years in Scouting that the Parent has no business in OA unless his son is in it already. The parent’s job should be helping his/her son in perusing his goals, not the goals of the parent.

  38. I received Vigil as a youth, 20 years before my older son was inducted. When my younger son & wife were inducted, my older son was on their Ordeal ceremony team. The next year, he was on their Brotherhood team & placed their sashes on them. Great memories. I’m glad we are doing Scouting & OA as a family. Make the most of the time & experience, and welcome him when he is inducted.
    Remember that the Dad & Scoutmaster roles are not the same, but should be complementary. I have the advantage of all of us being active in the troop, OA, & various other Scouting events. I try to let my 2 sons (17 &18) have their own experience (they are at an OA event 3 hours away, without my wife or I being there). There have been several events when one or two or even three of us went, but someone did not. They learn a lot whether parents are there or not. Shared experiences are great, but they do need so.easy without a parent nearby – one son went to OA Trail Crew at Philmont this summer – I went to Philmont in 1991, so we were able to understand what the other did. My older son went to Northern Tier with a crew of OA members, but I haven’t been (yet), so we don’the have the same common ground. They both got a lot from their “own” experiences, but a large part of the ability to do that came from us doing Scouting & OA as a family.

  39. I am a brotherhood member from my youth days and now my son is in cub scouting. I have become a den leader and I am hoping he continues on to boy scouts and gets inducted into the OA. I will then become more involved with the order but until then I will support and help the pack and troop. Hopefully oa Dad your son will want to be part now more than ever. Keep the faith and don’t forget to live by the three w’s.

  40. OA is about the Scouts and not the Scouters. I was invited and called out in a similar situation and my son was not. I respectfully bowed out of the ordeal to wait on my son who got elected the followIng year. It was the wisest decision I’ve made and solidified my relationship even more with my son.

    I feel that the dad should have waited until his son was elected as that keeps the focus where it should be, on the Scouts and not on us old guys.

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