The first time I visited our BSA district’s Scouting for Food collection point years ago, a number of young men wearing the distinctive Order of the Arrow sash made up a noticeable part of the staff. And so it has been every year since then.
In March, on a Saturday morning, I watched a group of OA Scouts work their tails off as vehicle after vehicle rolled into the collection area to drop off food collected by troops. The Scouts and leaders dropping off food worked alongside and under the leadership of young OA members to sort the food into bins. After several hours of work, the OA boys were tired but happy.
Among the reasons the Church is a strong sponsor of Scouting is that Boy Scout troops and Varsity Scout teams offer excellent opportunities for deacons and teachers to develop valuable leadership skills. Priesthood leadership is essential to the functioning of the Church, its programs, and most importantly, its covenants and ordinances. Since leaders all eventually move on, a new crop of leaders is constantly needed.
Why stop teaching leadership at the local unit level? Scouting offers chances for boys to develop and demonstrate leadership at the district and council levels. Among these are Order of the Arrow and camp staff. These programs are especially worthwhile from a Latter-day Saint perspective, because they embody the servant leader model, the same pattern employed by the Savior, whose example should be followed by every priesthood leader in the Church.
I mention the OA and camp staff in the same context because the Order is inextricably intertwined with Scout camping, as I explained in Blog post #5. There are valid reasons that most council camp staffs give hiring preference to young men that are active members of the OA. These young men know how to camp, how to serve, and how to lead out in service. We need more of this kind of thing in the Church.
Deacons and teachers with servant leader qualities are needed to lead Aaronic Priesthood quorums. In a few short years their service will be needed in mission leadership positions, Melchizedek Priesthood quorums, auxiliary organizations, and bishoprics.
The Order of the Arrow can play a valuable role in helping young men in the Church develop into the kind of servant leaders that are adept at following the Savior’s leadership pattern. If you are unsure about how you as an adult leader can help your deacons and teachers join the OA, contact your local OA chapter or your local Scout service center. They will be glad to help.
Questions to Ponder
- Do you want the young men you serve to become Christlike servant leaders?
- How open are you to the help offered by Scouting institutions such as the Order of the Arrow to develop these traits in your boys?
- What will you do to better enable the youth in your unit to become servant leaders?
-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.