Weary but happy. That’s how the small group of young men in uniform looked as they smiled in the crisp sunrise air listening to bird calls and waves on the lakeshore. Along with the handful of other Scouts and Scouters present that recent morning, each of these new Vigil Honor members of the Order of the Arrow held a cherished memory that could only adequately be shared with God.
As explained on the OA membership website, the Vigil Honor is awarded “with the approval of the national Order of the Arrow committee” to a select few members of the Order each year in recognition of “their distinguished contributions to their lodge, the Order of the Arrow, Scouting, or their Scout camp.”
The Order of the Arrow Handbook says, “Alertness to the needs of others is the hallmark of the Vigil Honor” and that the honor is reserved for Arrowmen who distinguish themselves through “exceptional service, personal effort, and unselfish interest” (2015 ed. Boy Scouts of America, 55-56).
These qualities sound exactly like some of those that we wish to instill in young bearers of the Aaronic Priesthood. One of the eight purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood is to “give meaningful service.” I know of no mission president who wouldn’t love to preside over missionaries who demonstrate exceptional service, personal effort, and unselfish interest. Indeed, a couple of the young men who received the Vigil Honor that morning will soon be serving missions.
As I considered our OA lodge’s new Vigil Honor members, I thought of D&C 121:40, which tells us that “many are called, but few are chosen.” None of these young men earned the honor the way one earns a merit badge or a rank advancement. None campaigned for the honor as occurs in politics. Rather, each was carefully chosen from many by a committee of Arrowmen youth who perceived the noteworthy way the nominee cared for and served others.
Only a few of the young men who join the OA will receive the Vigil Honor. But every young man who joins the Order can enjoy the privilege of regularly working with and being mentored by those who live the high ideals of the Vigil Honor, whether they have received the honor or not.
As a young Arrowman I admired and was guided by a somewhat older Arrowman named Brent. Brent was competent and caring, but humble. It seemed natural when he received the Vigil Honor. Brent served a mission and went on into adulthood. Many years later I ran into Brent when I was with my troop at Scout camp. He was then a bishop supporting his ward troop’s weeklong camp. From the way he interacted with the boys and other leaders, it was clear that Brent had continued to hone his tendency toward unselfish service throughout his adult life.
Active membership in the OA can give LDS boys opportunities like the ones I had as a youth to work with young men like Brent. To make these opportunities available, it’s up to you as a Scout leader to take action to host an OA election in your troop and then to help those elected complete the Ordeal. Contact your local Scout council for more details.
Questions to Ponder
- Is it valuable for Aaronic Priesthood holders to work with peers who embody the ideal of unselfish service?
- Did you know that the OA offers opportunities to regularly mix with high quality service minded Scouts and Scouters, a few of whom receive the Vigil Honor?
- How will you use this understanding to bless the youth you are called to 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.