Scott’s Brotherhood Blog #15: How OA SURGE Can Help Your Troop or Team

Scott Hinrichs

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.

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  1. Daniel says:

    Thank you Scott. I am a Scoutmaster in Minnesota and we recently had our elections where 6 of our eligible 7 scouts were elected. I was also sent the SURGE video and was asked if I thought it would be appropriate to share on the election night. I said most definitely yes. I even shared it on our Troop Facebook page for the parents to see as many thought the OA was a secret Society and didn’t have buy in. Until last year the scouts in my Troop had not even heard of the OA. I have now been Scoutmaster going on 2 years and that was the first opportunity to hold an election. I am a proud OA member myself and was happy to see the 2 scouts who were elected and 1 adult that was nominated last year all attend the ordeal. Our next step is to find a way to have an active OA Rep!

  2. Ed Morrow says:

    I am an OA member… I support the program and appre ciate your BLOGs… Thanks for all you do. I recognize that our Church leaders support the proper implementation of this inspired program. The big question is…How do we motivate our Stake and Ward Leaders to take the first step…they have so many resources, but so many of them hesitate to follow the correct principles… It is a very long, drawn out process of showing patience and long-suffering. I am searching for answers and praying for my great Ward and Stake leaders at the same time. I ask myself, “How can those of us that see the great value of Scouting, as a tool to further activate the Aaronic Priesthood keys and authority of our Young Men, help others find the same joy and blessings?”

    1. Ed, I know exactly where you’re coming from. It’s easy for strong Scouters to become frustrated with Scouting implementation in our local units. It helps me to realize that our LDS ward and stake leaders are usually making a good faith effort to prioritize their various responsibilities.

      While Latter-day Saints pride themselves on being a peculiar people, we and our local leaders are undeniably affected by the broader culture. Given cultural trends, quality Scouting takes greater focus and effort than it did when it was more easily absorbed from the general culture.

      We have some great LDS Scouting units. But the boys and adult leaders in many LDS units could benefit from better training, stronger adherence to Scouting principles and methods, and active use of programs within Scouting, such as the Order of the Arrow.

      LDS-BSA blog posts aim to provide help in that direction. But the real work has to happen at the local level. Established Scouters should consider it their mission to convert local Church leaders and Church-sponsored Scouting leaders to the short- and long-term benefits of a robust Scouting program. While that’s not an easy task, I promise that the effort will be worth it.

  3. Dennis Freeman says:

    Great article, Scott. I am sharing this with my LDS Scouting friends. We have made some progress in our district and the lodge at large, but it will take awareness on the part of leaders to really get the program to grow. Thanks for what you do!
    D. Freeman

    1. Dennis, you are one of my heroes. I deeply admire your undying efforts to promote and carry out top notch Scouting. I’m grateful that I can offer any help at all in promoting Scouting and the OA in your chapter, so I hope that your LDS friends find this blog post useful. Keep up the good work.

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