You can always tell a member of the Order of the Arrow when he wears the Order’s distinctive white sash embroidered with a shiny red arrow pointing over his right shoulder.
But members do not always wear the OA sash when in uniform. It is much more common to see OA members wearing colorful lodge patches on the right pocket flaps of their uniforms. One display at the 2015 National Order of the Arrow Conference featured lodge flaps from all around the nation, sort of in the shape of a map of the USA.
When a member of the OA sees a Scout or Scouter wearing OA insignia, he instantly knows that the other person has undergone an experience very similar to his own. A sense of brotherhood is immediately present even when no words are exchanged.
When Robert Gates spoke at the 2015 NOAC, probably few of the youth present could wrap their heads around his service as national CIA Director, US Secretary of Defense, and BSA President. But his OA sash and lodge flap identified him as one of them. When Dr. Gates talked about his Ordeal as a boy “in the middle of a blazing hot Kansas summer” and his Vigil a few years later “in an absolutely frigid Kansas winter,” even the newest Arrowman knew he was a brother with shared experiences.
The Church offers a more spiritual and eternal type of brotherhood through the priesthood. But membership in the OA allows Aaronic Priesthood holders to discover and develop worthwhile relationships beyond the confines of the Church. They can work closely with and develop associations with good, top quality souls that are not members of the Church, permitting others to experience the goodness of worthy Aaronic Priesthood holders.
Sometimes as young men leaders in the Church we narrow our scope so much that we can’t see the value of getting our young men outside of our church zone, where they could otherwise do much good. When he was a counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, Glenn L. Pace said that “we cannot become the salt of the earth if we stay in one lump in the cultural halls of our beautiful meetinghouses.”
The Order of the Arrow is a great way for young men to let their light so shine so that others may see their good works and glorify God (3 Nephi 3:16). That kind of goodwill can result in missionary opportunities down the road and can help Aaronic Priesthood holders develop into better missionaries as they see the good in others.
Questions to Ponder
- Do you want your Scouts to associate with high quality individuals that may not be members of the Church?
- Did you know that the Order of the Arrow offers a stellar opportunity for your young men to do just that, within the scope of an organization that is dedicated to unselfish service?
- How will you put this information to effective use for the boys you serve?
-Scott Hinrichs has been actively Scouting since age eight. He has served in many youth and adult Scouting positions and has been a member of the Order of the Arrow for more than four decades. He and his wife are raising their family in North Ogden, Utah. The views and opinions expressed in this message are solely those of the author.