Of The Arrow (OA)
National Honor Society
For more than 90 years, the Order of the Arrow (OA) has recognized
Scouts and Scouters who best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law in their
daily lives. This recognition provides encouragement for others
to live these ideals as well. Arrowmen are known for maintaining
camping traditions and spirit, promoting year-round and long term resident
camping, and providing cheerful service to others. OA service,
activities, adventures, and training for youth and adults are models
of quality leadership development and programming that enrich and help
to extend Scouting to America's youth.
The mission of the Order of the Arrow is to fulfill its purpose as
an integral part of the Boy Scouts of America through positive youth
leadership under the guidance of selected capable adults.
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
• Crystallize the Scout habit of helpfulness into a life purpose of leadership
in cheerful service to others.
The Order of the Arrow was founded by Dr. E. Urner Goodman and Carroll A. Edson
in 1915 at the Treasure Island Camp of the Philadelphia Council, Boy Scouts of
America. It became an official program experiment in 1922 and was approved
as part of the Scouting program in 1934. In 1948 the OA, recognized as
the BSA's national brotherhood of honor campers, became an official part of the
Boy Scouts of America. In 1998, the Order of the Arrow became recognized
as Scouting's National Honor Society when it expanded its reach beyond camping
to include broader service to Scouting and the community.
The OA has more than 170,000 active members located in lodges affiliated with
over 295 BSA local councils.
The Order of the Arrow membership requirements are:
• Be a registered member of the Boy Scouts of America.
• After registration with a troop or team, have experienced 15 days and
nights of Boy Scout camping during the two-year period prior to the election. The
15 days and nights must include one, but no more than one, long-term camp consisting
of six consecutive days and five nights of resident camping, approved and under
the auspices and standards of the Boy Scouts of America. The balance of
the camping must be overnight, weekend, or other short-term camps.
• Youth must be under the age of 21, hold the BSA First Class rank or higher,
and following approval by the Scoutmaster or Varsity team Coach, be elected by
the youth members of their troop or team.
• Adults (age 21 or older) who are registered in the BSA and meet the camping
requirements may be selected following nomination to the lodge adult selection
committee. Adult selection is based on their ability to perform the necessary
functions to help the Order fulfill its purpose, and is not for recognition of
service, including current or prior positions. Selected adults must be an asset
to the Order because of demonstrated abilities, and must provide a positive example
for the growth and development of the youth members of the lodge.
The induction ceremony, called the Ordeal, is the first step toward full membership
in the Order. During the experience, candidates maintain silence, receive small
amounts of food, work on camp improvement projects, and sleep apart from other
campers. The entire experience is designed to teach significant values. All
candidates for membership must complete the Ordeal.
After 10 months of service as an Ordeal member and fulfilling certain requirements,
a member may take part in the Brotherhood ceremony, which places further emphasis
on the ideals of Scouting and the Order. Completion of this ceremony signifies
full membership in the Order.
After two years of exceptional service as a Brotherhood member, and with the
approval of the national Order of the Arrow committee, a Scout or Scouter may
be recognized with the Vigil Honor for their distinguished contributions to their
lodge, the Order of the Arrow, Scouting, or their Scout camp. This honor is bestowed
by special selection and is limited to one person for every 50 members registered
with the lodge each year.
An OA lodge helps the local Boy Scout council provide a quality Scouting program
through recognition of Scouting spirit and performance, development of youth
leadership and service, promotion of Scout camping and outdoor programs, and
enhancement of membership tenure. Every Boy Scout council is encouraged
to have an Order of the Arrow lodge. Each lodge operates under a charter granted
by the National Council, BSA, and must apply annually for its renewal. The
Boy Scouts of America will grant a charter to only one lodge per council.
An Order of the Arrow section consists of lodges within a geographic area of
the region. Once every year, representatives of lodges in the section come together
for a conclave to share in fellowship, skills, and training. In addition, the
section creates a monitoring/mentoring relationship with its lodges, provides
leadership development opportunities, fosters understanding and adherence to
national OA policies and procedures, and coordinates OA administrative and program
functions. A section is lead by three elected youth officers, the section
chief, section vice chief, and section secretary, who are advised by an adult
section adviser and professional section staff adviser.
Each year the approximately fifty elected section chiefs are invited to a national
planning meeting in Dallas, TX. The section chiefs form the conference committee
for a national Order of the Arrow event, such as the national Order of the Arrow
conference, which is held under the guidance of the national Order of the Arrow
The region chief is the youth leader elected annually by the section chiefs in
his region. This election is held in conjunction with the annual national planning
meeting. The region Order of the Arrow chairman is an adult adviser appointed
by the region director. The professional adviser for the region is assigned by
the region director.
The national chief and vice chief are Arrowmen elected to one-year terms by the
section chiefs during the annual national planning meeting. They serve as members
of the national Order of the Arrow committee, providing the opinion of youth
Arrowmen on national OA policy. They also serve as the presiding officers for
the national OA event. They are advised in their responsibilities by the national
OA committee chairman and the Order of the Arrow team leader. The national
OA committee chairman is appointed annually by the vice president/chairman of
the national Outdoor Adventures Group. The professional adviser is the Order
of the Arrow team leader, a national professional Scouter.