At 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 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,
Let’s keep this conversation going in the comments section. Share your advice for Concerned OA Dad below.
Photo from the OA Facebook page.