My Scoutmaster, Big Al appreciated what Order of the Arrow membership did for our large troop and for the boys in the troop. Over the years, the troop members that joined the OA repeatedly became servant leaders who made Big Al’s job easier. He couldn’t imagine foregoing this wonderful benefit.
I recently attended an OA section conclave where more than 500 OA members gathered to build brotherhood, celebrate, and learn how to better fulfill their obligation to unselfishly serve others.
Sandwiched between patch trading, Dutch oven cooking, wave riding, climbing, mountain bike riding, powwow dancing, minute to win it, and a host of other activities, a BSA Western Region program was introduced that is specifically aimed at helping LDS Scout troops and Varsity Scout teams experience better quality Scouting through the OA. The program is called SURGE, which stands for Supporting Units through Really Great [OA] Elections.
The only way young men receive the opportunity to join the OA is to be elected by their Scout troop or Varsity Scout team peers. An OA election team visits your troop/team meeting, introduces the OA, discovers which unit members are eligible, and holds an election so that your Scouts can choose which among them best lives up to Scouting ideals. Eligible Scouts hold at least the First Class rank and have spent at least 15 days and nights camping as a Scout.
The process is quick and simple. But it doesn’t happen enough in LDS units. The Western Region SURGE site notes that “1 in 6 Scouts in the US are in an LDS unit but less than 1% of those LDS Scouts are Arrowmen.” The site suggests that part of the reason for this is that the OA lacks a working relationship with many LDS Scouting units.
The BSA recognizes that it’s time to change the relationship between the OA and LDS Scouting units for the better. It all starts with a unit OA election. You can see the SURGE video that briefly depicts an OA election in a Latter-day Saint troop so that you know what to expect when OA representatives visit your unit.
Of course, OA membership is achieved only when newly elected youth attend an OA induction, known as the Ordeal. Yes, it’s challenging. But like many valuable experiences, it’s well worth the rigor. That’s a topic for another post.
Are you ready to help your boys develop greater service and leadership qualities that will serve them and the Church throughout their lives? Then it’s time to invite the OA to send an election team to visit your Scouting unit. Contact your local OA chapter or your local Scout service center for details.
Questions to Ponder
- Did you realize that OA membership can improve leadership and service characteristics among your Scouts?
- Would you like to make the job of Scoutmaster or Varsity Scout Coach easier by tapping into an organization that has a proven track record of producing servant leader youth?
- What will you do to better enable the youth in your unit achieve this goal?
-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.