This topic contains 61 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by Embarrassing Dad 1 week, 4 days ago.
May 19, 2016 at 1:57 pm #53645
Sleeping on the group with no tent or ground pad? working alone? eating little? Do it and your cool. Don’t and you’re not cool.
This seems like Scout Approved Hazing.
May 19, 2016 at 9:52 pm #53651
Well, you’re wrong because the scouting program does not approve of hazing. I will grant you there is some inconsistency on their position with respect to, say, singing and this. But apparently Scouting does not consider this hazing.
If they do away with the ordeal, then they should do away with the Order of the Arrow.
And, frankly, I am tired of people tearing down the program. I have just about had it with Scouts turning into a daycare.
May 20, 2016 at 8:38 am #53656
The Ordeal weekend is about providing cheerful service to your local scout camp, while maintaining a vow of silence and fasting. There’s nothing wrong with scouts sleeping outside of a tent, I do it whenever I use my camping hammock. This isn’t supposed to be a weekend of torture, but rather a time of reflection while introducing the bonds of brotherhood and cheerful service. For it to be considered “hazing,” I think there has to be a humiliating factor added on the part of the Elangomat. And I don’t see anything humiliating about it.
Another aspect to consider is that the three membership levels (Ordeal, Brotherhood, and Vigil) aren’t “ranks,” like Star and Life ranks are. Every arrowman is an equal arrowman to each other, regardless of their membership status.
May 20, 2016 at 9:29 am #53657
Alternative justifications similar to the ones you raise can also be made for requiring a scout to sing for the return of lost items. And yet scouting considers that to be hazing. The scouting program did not think that through well enough and has a difficult time understanding the concepts of precedent and unintended consequences.
May 20, 2016 at 5:20 pm #53668
The purpose of singing is a mild humiliation (part of the definition of hazing). The purpose of the Ordeal is to test the candidates–not to humiliate, abuse or harass.
January 23, 2017 at 9:05 am #61687
Number 1: There is nothing saying you need to join the OA. If you don’t like it, don’t join it. But, are you there only as a “Sash and Dash” participant??
Another thought, is how can you have any knowledge of what hazing is? An interpretation? Or comparison to one of your camp-outs?
It appears in your statement, you know what hazing is.
Plain and simple:IT IS NOT TOLERATED!
I was a scoutmaster for several years, of which, mostly great times teaching young men leadership skills. Truly amazing to see a young man turn into a very mature, forward thinking person who is confident in his ability.
Let me put it this way, as I was told many times in the Air Force, going to another overseas assignment, “You can either make your tour the best, or the worst” It’s entirely up to you. You look for negatives, then that’s what you will find. Look for the positives and go with that!
An OA Advisor
May 20, 2016 at 11:10 am #53660
I am not a member of this organization but I have been involved in two fraternities as well as being on active duty with the Army so I have some first hand experience with hazing.
Singing to recover a lost item is a form of hazing. It is a punishment for a lack of attentiveness that is designed to produce shame on the part of the scout that was negligent.
“Roughing it” as a task to achieve an assigned goal is not hazing. It isn’t punishment for a lapse in judgement. It is an intentially difficult task to test the will and character of the individual.
When I was in the military, we often had training tasks that were extremely difficult – both mentally and physically – not because we did something wrong, but to teach us perseverance. I would imagine that this Right of Passage is about testing the perserverance of the Scout.
July 5, 2017 at 2:26 pm #72430
May 20, 2016 at 12:20 pm #53662
Wow, now I’ve heard it all.
Definition of hazing: Hazing is the practice of rituals and other activities involving harassment, abuse or humiliation used as a way of initiating a person into a group.
Nothing about the Ordeal is harassment, abuse or humiliation. If it were, I wouldn’t have allowed my sons to do it.
May 20, 2016 at 12:23 pm #53663
To add something else: both of my sons (since their Ordeal) have taken to sleeping on the ground without pads or tent during nice weather. It’s so not hazing that my youngest son has been an Elangomat. I’m not in the OA, and have no intention to be in the OA, but the Ordeal is not hazing. Please stop trying to turn Boy Scouts into Wimp Scouts.
September 15, 2017 at 9:58 am #75774
I LOVE scouts. However, here is my problem with ordeal and why hazing should be considered. Boys are not told in advance what to expect. There is no choice other than embarrassment by refusing once they are there. In fact, if they were to say no, they would be humiliated. The right choice for a school year camp out may be NOT to sleep outside in a downpour and then go without much food for a day, especially when you have the burden of other health concerns. Is that the choice an adult would make? No. None of the adults are sleeping without the tent in the pouring rain. As I read below, there is nothing in the purpose of OA that should require him to go through “ordeal.” In fact, it flies in the face of “responsible” camping. Furthermore, this “honor society” is chosen in many Troops more by popularity, then by scouts who are giving back to the community and “helping.”
the imposition of strenuous, often humiliating, tasks as part of a program of rigorous physical training and initiation.
As Scouting’s National Honor Society, our purpose 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.
Promote camping, responsible outdoor adventure, and environmental stewardship as essential components of every Scout’s experience, in the unit, year-round, and in summer camp.
Develop leaders with the willingness, character, spirit and ability to advance the activities of their units, our Brotherhood, Scouting, and ultimately our nation.
Crystallize the Scout habit of helpfulness into a life purpose of leadership in cheerful service to others.
December 15, 2017 at 11:14 am #79498
No one approves of “hazing” least of all scouters! Is the Ordeal an initiation and does it have certain stated requirements as a pre-condition to membership? Yes. Sleeping out under the stars does not mean having to endure a downpour! As for “arduous labor,” what is being referred to is a “work day” which all Arrowmen participate in on a regular basis (it’s part of the “cheerful service” that we are a brotherhood of.) In fact, in our Lodge, the Ordeal candidates and the Arrowmen work together. The vow of silence is for reflection, not humiliation. Scant food isn’t “scant” in any other part of the world! It’s not even scant here. It is only that, in comparison with the meal that they will have at the end of the Ordeal that it might be considered “scant.”
As to the choosing of candidates as a “popularity contest,” this is something that we as scouters try to discourage. As it is explained to us, “…Chingachgook bound these warriors into a great and honored Order into which can be admitted only those who themselves can forget in serving others and so firm must be their purpose so to live that their companions, taking note of their devotion, shall propose them to this Order… It is supposed to be a reflection upon their service and that is what we try to emphasize. I sincerely hope that you can see that we are not engaged in some kind of hazing. Rather, we have tried to make membership in an honor service organization more meaningful.
April 12, 2019 at 11:16 am #196271
I have no possible concept of where you are getting your information, but it couldn’t be more completely wrong. I would encourage you to contact an actual OA member and as a “Scout Mom” request either the factual information or to possibly arrange an opportunity to witness an ‘ordeal’. Misinformation such as you present is more harmful to these young men’s opportunities in life than you may realize.
May 20, 2016 at 4:20 pm #53665
” … do it and your cool, do it and your not cool …”
Yep, that Jesus was uncool.
May 22, 2016 at 12:04 pm #53690
That’s a great point!
My ordeal was sleeping under the rain clouds, wrapped in my ground tarp shivering, followed by a day of manual labor where we weren’t even allowed to speak to each other.
This… from the same people that tell me that making boys sing “Little Teapot” for lost items is “bullying”.
Oddly, the OA is the “honor society” where people are elected for embodying Scouting Principals. I don’t know of a single “Scouting Principal” that was reflected in my Ordeal, nor was there any part of my Ordeal that made me a “better person”. In fact, the entire time I was doing my Ordeal I was thinking this was “hazing”.
May 23, 2016 at 12:12 pm #53725
Definitions matter. Hazing is the practice of rituals and other activities involving harassment, abuse or humiliation used as a way of initiating a person into a group.
The purpose of the “little teapot” is mild humiliation. The purpose of the ordeal is testing. There is no harassment abuse or humiliation in the ordeal.
May 23, 2016 at 1:38 pm #53736
Nonsense. The purpose of singing is to cause mild embarrassment. Embarrassment and humiliation are not the same thing. Any way you look at it you are on a slippery slope trying to defend that distinction because people like Heather won’t accept it. Good luck with that.
May 23, 2016 at 4:17 pm #53741
Believe me, I’m right there with you fighting against the emasculation of boys and the “dumbing-down” of Scouting programs, but in context of this conversation… I haven’t read anything yet that has adequately explained how the Ordeal is NOT a form of “hazing”. Simply declaring it “not hazing” isn’t a sufficient counter-argument.
TESTING? Why would the OA have to “test” a member who is voted in by more than 50% of the troop that has seen him in action for the last year or more?
If we review the official BSA description of the OA —-
The induction process, called the Ordeal, is the first step toward full membership in the Order. Upon completion of the Ordeal and its ceremony, the member is expected to strengthen his involvement in the unit and encourage Scout camping.”
OK, so imagine how FEW boys you’d keep in scouting if you took them camping and forced them to sleep in the rain and stay silent the next day. Does ANY of this lend itself to “strengthening his involvement” or “encouraging Scout camping”?
Look, if there’s some hidden meaning here, help me see it. So far, I’m in agreement with Heather. I did my Ordeal and lived through it so I’d like to say that I’m “arguing” from an educated point of view. I just haven’t heard a substantive defense of the Ordeal to sway me.
August 22, 2016 at 12:52 pm #56436
I haven’t read anything yet that has adequately explained how the Ordeal is NOT a form of “hazing”. Simply declaring it “not hazing” isn’t a sufficient counter-argument.
TESTING? Why would the OA have to “test” a member who is voted in by more than 50% of the troop that has seen him in action for the last year or more?
I don’t have a good answer for you either. All I can say is that I know it when I see. BUD/S week for Navy SEALs is considered one of the most difficult weeks of training that exist in the US military – but it isn’t hazing by any definition. Even if the Navy allowed their service members to “vote in” Navy SEALs candidates, they would still need to be tested to see if they fit – to take away from it simply being a clickish popularity contest. Even if a scout is voted into this organization, they might not be a good fit for membership.
Just because something is difficult, just because something is not necessarily fun or enjoyable, doesn’t make it hazing. The method by which the scouts are treated during the event likely has the greatest impact on whether the actions were punitive, or experiential, and as such, hazing, or just testing.
Im ny household, part of our accepted and published family motto is perseverance. This means we commonly put ourselves (and our kids) into situations that require them to persevere. They don’t always understand at the time why we do what we do but we never do it with malice or hostility. Every time they overcome something, they learn that they can handle more. I see this Right of Passage as much the same thing. It isn’t necessarily about learning a tangible skill, it is more about experiencing something difficult and challenging that is common among all members. That builds confidence, trust, pride, and of course, perseverance.
May 31, 2016 at 9:11 am #53918
The entire point of the Ordeal was to impart a deeper meaning to “Brotherhood of Cheerful Service.” When I went through my Ordeal, I never once thought of it as hazing. I was never belittled or humiliated, instead I was encouraged to complete the tasks and applauded for my efforts. I wasn’t broken down and yelled at, I was being built up and testing my own limits. I only encountered positive people who, for three days, explained how beneficial the Ordeal was and the reasons behind the tests. To this day, 25 years later, I am proud of those accomplishments and because of being encouraged to push myself, I have reached professional heights I wouldn’t have even attempted.
Were there boys who didn’t complete the tests? Sure, a couple. They were encouraged to continue on, but when they said they had reached their limit, they were given food and water. They broke the vow of silence more than a few times, but they still were never yelled at or humiliated. Like with any part of Scouts, its about your personal best.
We could take away the Ordeal, the tests, the memorization. Then we could take away the requirements to enter, the voting, the camping and rank requirements. We could give anyone who asked a cool sash, but then, if everything else was removed…wouldn’t it just be camping with no point?
If you think about the process to get to Eagle, anyone could say it was hazing all the way. The merit badge requirements..forcing kids to go camping when they wanted to stay home. Reciting the Oath and Law like a crazy mantra. Wearing a uniform with less badges than the next kid hurt my feelings. Getting judged by a Board of review. Eagles get their own Court of Honor. All sounds like hazing to me….just like anything else if you slant it that way.
August 19, 2016 at 3:02 pm #56386
Reminds me of the boys at The Citadel defending Hell Week and the abuse of “knobs” as a “character-building experience.” I don’t buy it.
OA is an elitist secret society within BSA. It is exclusionary. Those that are on the inside defend all the ritual hokum as “character-building.” I see it as a lot of not-so-subtle peer pressure where opting-out is not easily accomplished in the woods in the dark of night. Encouragement or coercion cuts a very fine line. And all of the OA weekends generate, at most, two hours of service for the camp from each Arrowman, after all the ritual and fellowship have played out. I am not surprised none of the advocates have really been able to provide a coherent argument as to what checks are in place to prevent coercive behaviors and hazing. Just because you went through it, does not mean hazing cannot exist. If many troops are still dancing for lost items, I do not think the fine distinctions of what is and is not bullying and hazing is well established in BSA culture.
I resent perdidochas’ insinuation that if you are NOT in OA, you must be a wimp. That statement in itself is a form of coercion and bullying. And if you want non-wimping of the Scouts, go on a 50-miler in 104 degree heat in the Deep South with my Scouts. They are not OA and they are certainly not wimps.
As a 20-year veteran of Scouting, as SM, while I never discouraged the OA presentations, I never pushed it in my troop. I could never really justify the benefits to the troop of having my best Scouts’ limited time divided between troop leadership duties and OA activities. There was no visible pay-off for the troop or the individual, regardless of OA propaganda. OA appears to be a lot of smoke without much fire, IMHO.
August 22, 2016 at 12:58 pm #56437
Randall Reed states:
Just because you went through it, does not mean hazing cannot exist.
Well of course not. But it also doesn’t necessarily mean that it is always hazing (or that it is like that with every Ordeal). BSA has a written policy against hazing, not because of this organization but because hazing can exist in any setting. As such, you are correct, hazing is absolutely possible but that does not make it so by default.
If this organization in your area looks more like hazing than not, then I encourange you to speak out against such. I am sure you would not tolerate hazing in your troop so why tolerate your troops joining an organization that, based on your perception, encourages such. I would think as abults, we all have a duty to not be passive in such a situation.
It won’t get any better if the people that witness it turn a blind eye toward it. Want them to stop acting in a manner you consider hazing? Speak up!
August 21, 2016 at 7:39 am #56427
By extension, being very unlikely (and unwise) that a scouter would drive a boy home from a cabin/tenting weekend should he request it at 2:00 AM for no apparent medical or safety reason, isn’t every scouting activity hazing?
Boys suffer every time they hike a mile more than they’ve ever done before. Some are doing it just to fit. A few have realized that’s the price we pay for beauty.
All that said, I do agree that an SM has to curb his enthusiasm for O/A to make sure boys are fully informed before they commit time to it.
February 13, 2017 at 4:14 pm #62790
I stumbled on this after reading another post and have to jump in as I was having a similar discussion with a Scoutmaster yesterday. Does hazing exist – sure. Does it have any place in Scouting – OA or otherwise – NO.
As was posted before, the “tests” of the Ordeal are like tests for advancement or for merit badges. You set out to accomplish something and succeed or fail. A well run weekend (and not all are) will help the scouts to see that they can stretch themselves to accomplish something others have done and many others have not. By seeing the example of the other OA youth and adults working, and seeing that their Elangomats chose to (re-)experience the ordeal to help them, it sets a tone. maybe servant leadership?
While the “tests” have remained the same for more than 50 years, they are harder now, I think, because of how the rest of the world has changed. I talk to our candidates about the challenges they will experience (not the details) and how they will feel when they succeed. Many, not all, are very proud of themselves on Saturday night – others “get it” at other points in their lives, and for others, it was just a lousy weekend. As to “real” service time, it is more than two hours a candidate, and many more for the OA members who are also working on the weekends. Isn’t the relationship to service a scouting value?
On the relationship between the OA and the troop, the experience yesterday is on point. District Klondike, OA was staffing several towns. SM complained that he was losing his “best” scouts to OA instead of competing. His older scouts “abandoning the troop, etc”. I took a calculated risk and walked with the SM to talk to some of the OA scouts in the “towns”. Some were his, some from other troops. My question, “why are you here today?” Answers were about “having to be”, service, helping, teaching, great being on staff, hanging with friends. The risk, – “would you have come out to compete with your troop?” Answers were almost unanimously , “no” with details of being “too old”, needing to let others experience leadership, not fun, other things to do, done it too many times, one having won last year and leaving on a “high”. These were high school juniors, seniors, graduates spending a cold day helping adults and other scouts. Were it not for OA, several would be sleeping and at least 3 would have been playing online – with each other, not with the troop. A win for scouting, no?
February 14, 2017 at 8:32 am #62881
Michael J Dean
I cannot speak for OA as a whole, but I witnessed hazing in our Lodge. I also have to agree with parents who complain about secrecy, the swearing of oaths, mystical ceremonies and the like. Furthermore, the goals of OA are unclear at best and misleading at worst. The lessons regarding how to work together to accomlish a task are destructive. No right thinking person would attempt to tackle a task without planning, without the right tools, or without talking to one another to make the task go better. Finally, the American Indian rituals are insulting.
Based on all this, I do not recommend OA to parents anymore. It’s a shame because, despite all the negatives, OA is fun. It just doesn’t make any sense.
May 12, 2017 at 8:41 am #69671
I was called out and completed my Ordeal last year and I can tell you there was absolutely positively NO hazing.
I’m a parent but never a Scout as a kid. I didn’t even know being nominated for the OA was an option. I chose to accept though, and very glad I did. The surprise of what to expect only adds to the excitement and anticipation (although I did some research like you are now).
To keep this short, it was an honor to participate. The time of less comfort, silence (to reflect on ones own thoughts, never forced), hard work (very rewarding, pushing personal limits), accomplishment, self improvement, public service… all so rewarding that I am proud to say that my son will begin his Ordeal tomorrow. Yes, I will serve in the Ordeal and I would encourage any parent with concerns to talk to the Scout Master, talk with OA members, and attend in person to be sure you see the safety and benefits for your son.
It’s the honor society. I am so grateful for Brotherhood, Cheerfulness, Service.
August 13, 2017 at 7:28 pm #74375
SilverParent… I hate to break this news to you, but YOUR membership in the OA is NOT part of any “honor society”… no adult’s membership is.
You’re “allowed in” because you have something they can use. Period.
Here’s a cut/paste from the oa-bsa.org website:
Q/A: Adult Membership Requirements
The requirements for adult membership are given on page 21 of the “Guide for Officers and Advisers,” #34997A, Revised 1999.
In general, the adult qualifications are different from the youth requirements. Adult selection is based upon their ability to perform the necessary functions to help the Order fulfill its purpose, and is not for recognition as an honor. Selected adult Scouters must be an asset to the Order because of demonstrated abilities, and must provide a positive role model for the youth members of the lodge.
August 17, 2017 at 4:23 pm #74578
Paul, you absolutely missed the point of SilverParent’s post.
He is excited about sharing an experience with his son. Add to the fact that they are both experiencing scouting together, now they can include their OA experiences to that.
I am an ASM with no kids of my own in my troop. Our SM (never a scout) has no kids in the troop. Another ASM (Eagle/OA) has no kids in the troop. We are there because we believe in the scouting principles.
I grew up in scouting and earned my Eagle, Brotherhood in OA and did my ordeal in the early 80s. My dad was an SM for 20 years. 30 years later, I am giving back to the program.
SilverParent wasn’t a scout but obviously knows how much of an impact scouting can have on a young boys journey to adulthood that his son is a scout. Part of every scouts journey is an opportunity to join the OA and for whatever reason drives him. My SM mildly pushes OA and I enthusiastically encourage them to join and be active in the OA based on my experience in the OA as a scout.
I understand that the 80s and present are vastly different. Trust me, I lament some of the changes that have occurred in the program but still believe scouting is a very relevant program for our country’s youth.
I see a generational change occurring with parents entering their sons into the program. They are happy to drop them off and pick them up. It appears to me that with all the helicopter parents who want their kids to experience so many different activities that they are just dropping off/picking up from one activity to the next. Our troop struggles to get parents involved because it requires more time from their lives and yet all of our adult leaders do not even have kids in the troop and are always there for every meeting, campout, district roundtable meeting, etc.
I applaud SilverParent’s enthusiasm and encourage him to continue to be active in the troop with his son on his son’s trail to Eagle. Scouting needs more parents like him.
July 6, 2017 at 8:23 am #72543
Philip Treglia Sr.
I am sorry for all the people who think that the O/A Ordeal is hazing. For those who did the ordeal and found it as hazing, evidently did not pay attention at the evening orientation or had read the O/A handbook, specifically the part regarding the historical origins of the program and what it means to do the Ordeal. For those who did not pay attention or have not read it, please go to the following website and please read the page in full. http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/BoyScouts/OrderoftheArrow.aspx
I have not only done the Ordeal but also did my Brotherhood. After doing my ordeal, I further understood what I was doing by reading and listening to the history. I am always willing to answer the call when asked to help out.
To sleep on a sleeping pad on the ground out under the stars is to understand that you are to commune with nature and to understand that you are to be one who gives back to a community that you belong to. In my council’s case, it is to recognize that we are a community with our council’s scout camp and we are with our other members who are bonding with helping out with a common purpose.
The purpose of silence during the ordeal is so that you may stay focused on the purpose of reflecting on exactly not only what you are doing but the purpose of helping to strengthen the goal of the cheerful service that is provided by the scout or adult scouter to others.
Let me pose this question to those who are knocking the Order of the Arrow Program, “The first thought of a Boy Scout is a boy in uniform, helping a little old lady across the street. Have you seen a Boy Scout do that recently?” NO. So now we try to help the young man become more conscience of being willing to give and help their community become a better place and instead people are calling the time these candidates doing their ordeal as “Hazing.” REALLY?
I would like to ask everyone who believes that this hazing, “Should we knock everything about Boy Scouts so that it just turns into ‘Just have the boy sign up and we will give you his Eagle Rank right upon signing?'” Do we really need to ‘Dumb down’ these boys so that when these boys are not prepared to offer their services voluntarily where do we turn to then for help when we need it? Because basically what we are saying is, “You do not have to become focused upon learning to awaken and sharpen your ability to volunteer.” That type of thinking will only have us asking why we do not have adults volunteering to help keep kids off the streets with a program like the Boy Scouts.
I believe that everyone has the right to express their opinion. But please, before you do, please read, listen, learn before speaking. Also ask the questions so you could better understand why the ordeal is NOT hazing!
Thank you for your understanding.
July 7, 2017 at 5:48 pm #72589
… helping a little old lady across the street. Have you seen a Boy Scout do that recently?
Yes. Actually, Son #2’s final act as a scout was to help call a weary senior citizen’s transport which had been delayed in traffic an hour after she had finished shopping. He made sure the driver was coming to the correct store, and then walked her across the street to the car. He was in uniform from serving scouting for food. I had to burn the image into my memory because it happened faster than I could ask his SM to take a picture. That was about two years ago. But every year I camp with dozens of scouts who look to do the same.
So those daily good turns are very much happening across the nation.
But, I appreciate your other points.
July 22, 2017 at 7:03 am #73310
I did not see anyone comment about the fasting and small amounts of food. I’ve read about small meals, meals of matches and raw food, and going an entire day without water. None of that is healthy and can make someone ill or worse. Some people may be able to fast a day or more, but some people cannot go without regular meals, and forcing them to do so would in my opinion be wrong, whether it be hazing or not. I’ve read about making people carry 50 pounds of logs at one time. Some people can’t do that. If the requirement to be a member is to do those things, then okay, if you can’t do them then you can’t be a member. Just like if I am applying for a job that requires me to lift and carry 50 pounds and I can’t do it, then I don’t get the job. But don’t try to force someone to do those things when they can’t. I would call that abuse, which is within the definition of hazing, and the definition doesn’t say anything about intent.
I don’t want to say what is done is hazing, but it is wrong to force someone beyond their limits. If someone can carry only 30 pounds, don’t load them down with 50 pounds. Don’t refuse them food or water when they need it. Respect their limits. Oh, I forgot, the word Respect is not in the scout law. Well it should be, because I see too little of it in scouting. And respecting others and their limits is not wimping out.
August 17, 2017 at 4:22 pm #74579
Peter, have you EVER done anything in your life that took you outside of your comfort zone? How would you know if you did? Can you grow past your comfort zone without with out any stress or strain?
Every scout takes a physical fitness test when earning the Tenderfoot rank. They are required to do their best in push ups, sit ups, sit and reach and the 1 mile run. They are then required to record those results, develop a plan to improve those results and SHOW IMPROVEMENT after 30 days. Do you believe a scout can do that without exiting their comfort zone?
What I am getting at is that the OA ordeal is taking the ordeal candidate OUT of their comfort zone for a very short amount of time. At any point of that period (literally 24 hours for some ordeals I’ve seen) if a scout is having physical difficulties detrimental to their health, the staff is going to address them immediately. Now, that said, you will also just have lazy scouts who for the first time in their life is having to do something arduous and physically taxing when they have been accustomed to sitting on the couch and free grazing from the fridge/pantry all day.
When the Ordeal is completed and they have somehow survived, I bet you can ask every single new OA brother what they thought and some will reply that it sucked and they were hungry but ask them if they would like to return the OA sash and they will say NO!
Why? Because they learned that they can endure being outside of their comfort zone and even grow stronger from it mentally and physically. They learned that “cheerful service” truly can do accomplished while being stressed. They learned that they can succeed and overcome a stressful time in their lives and can use that experience to overcome future trips outside their comfort zone.
Or I am totally off base?
February 12, 2019 at 4:04 pm #186714
I agree wholeheartedly!! I’ve been an adult leader in Scouting for more than 7 years and completing the ordeal this weekend with my son was an awesome experience! Yes, it’s called an “ordeal” for a reason and yes, it was mighty difficult, but our entire group youth and adult alike all had a great time and took much away from the experience. I have to say to those many negative comments out there that if the ordeal was a negative experience for them and they look back on it as being such a horrible thing, then they did not accept their nominations with an open mind to go outside their comfort zone and learn the many lessons taught to build character, leadership, and further promote the Scout Oath and Scout Law and thus, as adult leaders, better improve upon their leadership skills to set higher example for the youth of their unit as well as that of all scouts, scouters, and non-scouting individuals as well. Apprehension of the unknown was intended to enhance the experience as were each and every challenge and symbol presented during the ordeal. If you do not come out of your ordeal a better person, leader, parent, and example for others then you have not embraced the meaning of the Brotherhood and most likely also have not fully immersed yourself in practicing the Scout Oath and Scout Law. On the journey to Brotherhood membership I look forward to possibly serving as an Elangomat since I now see the importance of this program and have already begun to change my perspective as an individual and leader and member of my community. To those who view the program in a negative light I say respectfully perhaps you have much to learn by completing it but perhaps too you should not endeavor to do so until you have studied and practiced the Oath and Law more in depth and feel better prepared to move outside your comfort zone. If you have already completed the ordeal and still feel this way, then again I respectfully say you may want to talk to other brothers who can help you understand the lessons of the ordeal. Remember, a key to the program is CHEERFULNESS, even in the face of adversity. I would do it again in a heartbeat!!
December 15, 2017 at 11:25 am #79501
The Ordeal was never meant to “test” a candidate beyond their means! There is NOTHING about the Ordeal that is meant to be harmful or dangerous!! No one is refusing water for an entire day! HouTex said it pretty well. It DOES force the candidate out of their comfort zone! What is being asked of them with labor should more accurately be described as service. THAT is what we do and that is who we are! The “scant” food provided is only scant in relation to the meal that the candidates will have at the end! As to the silence, that is for reflection and not humiliation. It was a valuable experience that I treasure to this day 41 years later. I’m sorry you don’t see it that way.
April 25, 2018 at 9:57 am #101835
I just came across this post and want to add in. Scouting has no form of hazing in regular Troops or OA. If the Scout does not want to do something he is not pushing himself, we do not ask him to do more. We ask them to do their best. Scouts need to step over their comfort boundaries and try something new. Most kids now days cannot camp outside they don’t know how. I am a Vigil member and enjoyed every task I did, it helped me become a better person and Scout. I hate heights, so I actually climbed a 30 ft tower with other adults and Scouts cheering me on. I will never do it again but I enjoyed that I completed a task.
As scant food and water, you get enough to keep you going. You drink when you need a drink no one takes that from you. It is only 2 meals if you don’t eat the scant food becausse you are a picky eater than that is your fault not the OA’s.
A Scout going through his Ordeal should be prepared for all weather so unless there is lightening rain will not hurt anyone.
August 16, 2017 at 8:43 am #74506
I seem to be censored on sight, but on the off chance my comments are “approved” ….
I underwent my Ordeal back in 1974. Things are different today, and young people are raised much differently. If you’ve got a problem with the OA then don’t join. I suspect those who are complaining never had the experience of being put into a difficult situation and overcoming and feeling the pride and sense of accomplishment upon succeeding. Some people learn to reach into themselves and find their inner strength and some do not.
September 6, 2017 at 5:43 pm #75310
This seems completely ridiculous to me. I see many mentions of military. In our troop many of these boys 12 and 13, many years away from being adults.
How do we teach our kids this is ok, but hazing at a fraternity is not?
September 18, 2017 at 8:02 am #75798
You teach it in one simple way – you explain what the OA Ceremony is and means, and then explain what hazing is. Because the two are so utterly, completely different, I am sure your son will understand that the OA ceremonies are symbolic actions and performances which encourage service, self-reflection, and cooperation through hard-working, while hazing is the abuse of an individual to grant them entry into some frivolous organization intended more for social gain that social contributions.
If YOU cannot tell the difference, however, then you should learn the history and reality of the organization before jumping to an alarmist conclusion about what you think it is based only on your fears and not your research.
September 18, 2017 at 8:02 am #75799
Oh, and fun fact! Fasting at least once a month for about day can actually have HUGE medical and restorative benefits for the body! This has been studied and confirmed by countless doctors over many years. To say it is unhealthy for the boys demonstrates little more than a desire to make a point without actually studying the research on the matter.
The Ordeal ceremony is nothing hard or challenging beyond what any boy of that age can do. I was 20 lbs. underweight, small and frail when I was brought into the OA at 14 years old. And I had no problems with any of the tasks required of me. If I, being such a young and sickly thing back then, could have made it through the Ordeal without so much as a sniffle afterwards, then almost ANY kid can do so.
May 21, 2018 at 7:52 am #108272
My son is elected for the Ordeal however I am conflicted to whether he should go.
He heard enough from other scouts and did not want to go.
Should I encourage him to go and experience the Ordeal?
May 22, 2018 at 8:21 am #108827
If he doesn’t want to be there, don’t send him. When he’s older, he can run again if he’s interested.
May 21, 2018 at 7:52 am #108079
I did my ordeal in the late 80’s quickly followed by becoming a brotherhood member. The ordeal isn’t hazing because candidates are not made fun of, tacks are not humiliating and are done often with fellow brothers along side them. Food is given;however it is not an open buffet, and the stories of rotting food I believe is just that, a story. Now perhaps there are lodges that have taken things took far, which is possible, but in those cases it is up to Adult Leaders to step in.
August 7, 2018 at 8:14 am #133908
Wow! If you think the Ordeal is hazing, if sleeping on the ground is hazing, if limiting what you eat and not pigging out all weekend on food is hazing, if spending the day doing hard work through manual labor is hazing, then you and/or your kids should NOT be involved with Scouting. Go family camping at KOA or something. Our boys eat more at an ordeal than they do on a weekend hike. Our Troop regularly sleeps on the ground under the stars. We bushcraft, clear trails, improve scrub land. If you or your boy goes through the OA Ordeal and it is a “moral” challenge for you, then I would say you completely missed the point of Scouting and are not qualified to even be at an OA Ordeal in the fist place. Go volunteer with GSA or the Campfire Girls and shut up. I went through my Ordeal in August 1979 and my sons went through their Ordeals in the last three years. I am attending our Fall Ordeal next weekend as an assistant to our Chapter Advisors. If the candidates can’t hack the Ordeal process, then there is no way under the sun that they could hack being in ANY Troop in our District, period. This board, unfortunately, is filled with comments by anti-Scout ppeople and Scouter-posers who just seemingly want to trash or find fault with BSA. Those of us who are active and experienced Scouts and Scouters know the difference, so blab on posers.
September 12, 2018 at 3:08 pm #146062
I am pretty disheartened by many of these negative comments and erroneous thoughts on what the Ordeal is. Before you go, you are told to bring a sleeping bag and a tarp to sleep with. I don’t see what is hazing related or humiliating about that. Those same parents will sign their scout up for the wilderness survival MB where they will shockingly be asked to sleep under the stars with only their sleeping bad and tarp and maybe a crudely built and ineffective “shelter”. Your day of service is no more than cleaning up the camp. Picking up branches, mulching, painting benches, pulling weeds, moving fire wood, etc. There is always sit and wait time between tasks. My boys do this type of work at getting me and on Eagle Scout projects frequently. They have also done conservation projects that were more grueling. Water is plentiful and constant reminders are given to participants to drink. Food is as a tortilla and a piece of fruit. If you had dietary issues, that would as taken into consideration as well. One of my boys was a newly diagnosed type 1 diabetic. Because of the yard work, be needed to supplement his good to keep his blood sugar up. No one said a word. Keeping yourself healthy was required by the council. The silence part was cool in that the scouts stay on task better and actually learn to communicate quite well. Someone I greatly admire asks, what is the differenc between an Ordeal and an Adventure? The answer: Attitude. If we cannot allow our youth to experience difficulties or challenges, we have set them up for failure.
October 9, 2018 at 5:21 pm #156877
I would like to respond to the comment that the “Boys are not told in advance what to expect.” First, that is not correct. The information about what the Induction Weekend encompasses is published on the National OA website. It says “During the experience, candidates maintain silence, receive small amounts of food, work on camp improvement projects, and sleep apart from other campers.” After they are called out, candidates are told what to bring and what to expect based on what the National website says. “Think wilderness survival,” they are told. In our Lodge, we make sure the candidates are aware by giving them a packing list that specifically says that they will not use a tent the first night and encourages them to eat a good dinner before they arrive because they will fast on Saturday for breakfast and lunch. Lastly, if we have inclement weather on Friday night, we have shelters we use so they are under cover (when we use the shelters we get more complaints than we ever do when they sleep under the stars).
October 15, 2018 at 2:33 pm #158317
“This isn’t hazing. We don’t approve of hazing and we do this, therefore this is not hazing. Since we don’t approve of hazing, us doing this proves that it isn’t hazing”
If you want to do hazing, just say you don’t do hazing. Afterwards whatever you do is clearly not hazing.
October 23, 2018 at 9:02 am #160750
Hazing is in the eye of the beholder… when my son was a senior in High School, we were looking at various colleges. Some of them post their hazing policies on-line. Things that could get a fraternity or sorority in trouble: “restricted food”, “forced labor”, “sleep deprivation”… those sound very much like the OA Ordeal.
I’m not opposed to the OA, and I don’t think the Ordeal actually harms anyone, but it could easily be classified as hazing.
January 8, 2019 at 9:17 am #180068
This entire thread is ridiculous.
The Ordeal consists of sleeping under the stars – this is something people pay to do, then post it on Instagram and Facebook; it is serene. If the weather is too bad, alterations are made. Boys are not required to lay naked in the elements. Stop believing nonsense like this.
Food and water are given during the ordeal, just not in outrageous quantities. Half of the world would be grateful for the amount of food provided during the ordeal. Just because Jr. has to go without two hamburgers at lunch, that doesn’t make it hazing.
The “arduous labor” is, as others have pointed out, standard service work; weeding, painting, picking up trash, etc. This is normal stuff that others are expected to do. Your kid is learning about work ethic.
In short, those finding fault with Boy Scouts, OA, and particularly the Ordeal are either 1) Entirely misinformed, or 2) the type of person that wants equality of outcome rather than equality of opportunity.
Some people push themselves to become better. Other people try to hold others back so that nobody is surpassed. The Ordeal is a rite of passage, a learning experience, a single day spent in silent reflection doing some light to moderate manual labor while not stuffing your face with Doritos.
Those who complain about it don’t have fault with Boy Scouts or the OA, but rather with themselves and a world they see as “unfair.” Some things in life are hard, and for those things the world needs better people than those who would complain about such trivial inconveniences.
One difficult day in your kid’s lifetime could save them a lifetime of difficult days.
February 14, 2019 at 9:53 am #187175
Richard A. Dextraze
I am reading comparisons between OA and fraternity initiations and what strikes me is the following:
1. Both are voluntary and both are an honor to be invited to join.
2. Both require an initiate to learn about the organization and prove desire to join by participating in activities, some of which are service oriented.
3. Both have long histories of membership and service to their respective community.
4. Both require recognizing the brotherhood of each organization and commitment to the ideals of service.
5. Both deliver a life-long connection to brothers in their lodge or fraternity house and all brothers that ever participated in that organization.
Most criticism seems to come from those who have no direct experience in either activity.
What does not seem to be recognized is the potential for lifelong connection for networking as a professional or the potential to develop as a community leader or just plain, old, good citizen.
March 15, 2019 at 9:11 am #192164
Let it go! Either join it or don’t. It separates those who understand it and those that don’t. I have my boys tie lashings and knots when they lose stuff at least it is beneficial and scout required. Plus they get good at them for camping purposes. No it’s not hazing! It’s called helping a scout be responsible.
April 1, 2019 at 10:51 am #194932
Also a Scouter
“It separates those who understand it and those that don’t.”
That’s the problem right there. Why the need to separate people?
And why the need to take a swipe at someone by saying they don’t understand just because they disagree with you. You’re not really helping your point of view.
I choose not to participate in OA because the mystical rituals, secret passwords and Indian role-playing are just not my thing.
April 12, 2019 at 11:16 am #196270
There is nothing “Secret” about OA. If you wish to learn about the ceremonies, and symbols used in OA then all you need to do is ask. The information is not advertised, that’s true. But secrecy is a violation of the basic tenets of scouting. As a scouter I’m surprised you aren’t aware of that.
April 4, 2019 at 8:25 am #195228
Every College Fraternity in the country says they do not have nor tolerate hazing (and the ones that get caught doing actual hazing get in big trouble). Yet, if you compare the OA Ordeal to any (mild!) College Fraternity pledge initiation it’s like comparing a Disney animated movie to Rated R film.
If you consider the Ordeal hazing, you of course are entitled to that opinion, but I genuinely disagree. OA Candidates are given a challenging outdoor task to complete in order to become a member. If you think that’s hazing, fine, but every single Scout rank and merit badge is hazing by that definition. My wife thinks that camping in a tent overnight, fishing, and starting a fire without lighter fluid are all forms of cruel torture too.
April 11, 2019 at 9:37 am #196202
If you think the ordeal ceremony is a form of hazing then you have never played a team sport where when you make a mistake you run laps or push ups. and no I’m not calling that hazing either what I’m getting at is that The OA Ordeal Ceremony has no hazing. Plain and simple we as a society have become soft. If you have an issue with sleeping under the stars for one night, or only eating an egg sandwich for breakfast then your the problem. And YES food allergies are taken into consideration. When I did my ordeal ceremony I was 3 weeks post op from gastric sleeve surgery and survived just fine.
April 12, 2019 at 11:16 am #196269
There is a vast difference between building confidence and tearing someone down. An OA candidate should be capable to handle those minor things you listed as a matter of course. “Being cool” is a matter of perspective. Taking pride in your capabilities and demonstrating a desire to improve yourself is a core mission of Scouting. This is not a participation trophy. to be handed out just for showing up. It’s an honor that requires commitment and effort. The ordeal isn’t as difficult as it was in my day back in the 70’s. We took particular pride in overcoming the obstacles placed in our path to test our commitment and encourage teamwork among the participants. Hazing? Not even close!
April 16, 2019 at 8:41 am #196547
Sean S Coleman
I’d like to share my perspective. I was born with Cerebral Palsy and my body showed it and my classmates made sure I knew I was different. In this case, being different wasn’t a positive experience. When I was 12 at summer camp, I saw a group of candidates working and being silent. I knew nothing else but I did see them as being different and in my mind at 12, I connected their silence to my CP and the pain I endured so I refused to be on the ballot because I didn’t want to voluntarily make myself different. This is in the mind of an adolescent. At 16, my SM and SPL really pressured me to run and I said yes thinking I would never be elected. Well I was elected and in the 70’s there was a limit on many Scouts could be elected. It was expected of you to go to the Ordeal if elected so I went terrified of the silence.
It was hard being silent for 26 hours (lots of sitting around) but, when I got my Ordeal sash, I was so proud of myself. During the experience I didn’t feel different because we were all silent and the members really made an effort to treat us as honored guests. I got home around 1 am and stayed up for several hours reading the handbook.
Throughout the day, I was telling myself do this, fulfill the SM’s expectations and plan to never come back. About 2 weeks after my Ordeal, I did come back and throughout high school, served several Chapter offices and then became a lodge officer for inductions. For years, I would serve as an elangomat. I
I hope this gives people the perspective that 1) it wasn’t hazing, it was bringing us together as a group because we shared a hard experience together and 2) I almost lost out on a 40 year involvement with the OA
June 12, 2019 at 4:05 pm #215563
Hazing? No way is Ordeal hazing. My two boys and I have been involved with Scouting for 8yrs. My oldest and I both went through Ordeal last year together, it was a great bonding moment for us. My youngest will be going through Ordeal in a couple months and his brother and I both plan on being there for him to welcome him into the brotherhood. My boys do more labor intensive work at home then we did at Ordeal. Yes, there was limited food during the day but water was plentiful and never denied and we did this in Alabama in August(heat/humidity levels off the charts). No one was forced against their will but encouraged to complete their task, some did not and were not humiliated or sent home. Upon completion there was nothing but smiles and laughter coming from each Scout. The boys from our Troop that are OA strive to complete their training and have been encouraging the younger Scouts to get involved. There has been no pressure from our leadership to join, everything has come from the Scouts themselves. Our boys want to serve, create memories and open themselves to new experiences. If that is hazing, I guess we are guilty. I just know that this experience has made my son and I a lot closer.
September 10, 2019 at 10:56 am #268400
From what I can gather from my son, who just completed the Ordeal this weekend, it wasn’t hazing. When I was an officer in my college fraternity, I spent time trying to redesign “hell week” into something that wasn’t hazing, that could still create the bonding experience between participants. Everything we could think of was either too hokey or too resource/cost intensive. The best recourse was to simply run the organization better and get rid of the activities that looked like hazing to outsiders, which ended all the hassle and hand-wringing about hazing.
Partially restricting food with a group that is digging up stumps or pulling kudzu is only questionable if the candidate isn’t prepared for that. I read the materials his lodge provided, but there was no mention of that. I don’t know if the OA Handbook mentions it. (Since this thread began 2 years ago, the handbook PDF has been taken down, and I could not find one elsewhere, in advance. My son’s lodge only distributed them at the check-in cabin.) Going with less food–as part of a plan–is definitely a great way to focus yourself, to look inward, to build discipline. When it comes as a surprise, it’s just as likely to cause anger (remember Yoda’s warning about what that leads to)
September 10, 2019 at 4:45 pm #269091
PART 2, next day:
SHORT VERSION: MOSQUITO EXPOSURE & RESULTING SLEEP DEPRIVATION SHOULD BE PROUDLY ADVERTISED AND NOT KEPT SECRET!
I spoke to my son again and asked him about some of the customary parts of the Ordeal as described in this thread.
Let me affirm that he is still glad he did this and is proud to have that sweet sash.
On the drive home, he mentioned that he was only able to sleep for 2 hours the first night, which I chalked up to normal camp-out issues, and that another candidate got ZERO sleep. But I asked him again about that, and he said it was because of mosquitoes and other insects. I asked why his gear failed him. Reading this thread yesterday, I had assumed that our local OA lodge wasn’t requiring candidates to “sleep under the stars” I assumed this because the local OA lodge’s checklist for parents/candidates made it clear to *bring a tent.* The checklist did NOT say “the candidate is kind of peer-encouraged to sleep in the open on the first night.” That would have been a helpful freaking detail to include. (AS I MENTIONED PREVIOUSLY: we weren’t given access to an OA Handbook beforehand, and I looked online, thoroughly, for a PDF, before the event.)
To complicate this story a little: My son actually uses a hammock and bug-net on most camp-outs, and when he checked in, he was told *twice* that it would be OK. No one said “not tonight; you’re sleeping on the ground.” If they had told him that, he would have gotten a ground pad out of my car before I left (I had his tent in the car, just in case they nixed the hammock option, Be Prepared, right?), and he also might have taken his bug-net to the candidate “sleeping” area. For whatever reason, he was not able to use the net, but was able to use the small tarp he keeps with the hammock. I don’t know if it was presented as a rule or if he just wanted to go with the flow.
But, hey, he got the unexpected experience of sleeping pad-less, like I did as a
Cub Scout, which I hope made America great.
And he got to wrap his body (head including) with a tarp to keep some of the mosquitoes away. I’ll be checking the camping merit badge manual about elective credit for covering his face with plastic.
I’m still not calling this hazing.
I’m calling it moderate incompetence.
September 11, 2019 at 9:08 pm #269768
And he got to wrap his body (head including) with a tarp to keep some of the mosquitoes away. I’ll be checking the camping merit badge manual about elective credit for covering his face with plastic.
I’m still not calling this hazing.
I’m calling it moderate incompetence.
Is there a reason why your scout did not pack bug repellant? For both of my scouts, it is included on every troop packing list. In fact, they now consider it one of the 10 Essentials (combined sunscreen/bug repellant).