Membership Requirements and the Induction Process
The OA has more than 160,000 active members located in lodges affiliated with over 270 BSA local councils. As of 2018, there is now an OA Lodge in every council across the United States!
The Order of the Arrow membership requirements are:
- Be a registered member of the Boy Scouts of America.
- Have experienced 15 nights of Scout camping while registered with a troop, crew, or ship within the two years immediately prior to the election. The 15 nights must include one, but no more than one, long-term camp consisting of at least five consecutive nights of overnight camping, approved and under the auspices and standards of the Boy Scouts of America. Only five nights of the long-term camp may be credited toward the 15-night camping requirement; the balance of the camping (10 nights) must be overnight, weekend, or other short-term camps of, at most, three nights each. Ship nights may be counted as camping for Sea Scouts.
- At the time of their election, youth must be under the age of 21, and hold one of the following ranks corresponding to the type unit in which they are being considered for election: Scouts BSA First Class rank, the Venturing Discovery rank, or the Sea Scout Ordinary rank or higher, and following approval by the Scoutmaster, Crew Advisor or Sea Scout Skipper, be elected by the youth members of their unit.
- Adults (age 21 or older) who meet the camping requirements may be selected following nomination to and approval by the lodge adult selection committee.
The induction ceremony is the first step toward full membership in the Order. During the induction experience, youth and adult candidates will partake in a day full of cheerful service and undergo a series of ceremonies that will personally challenge each candidate in different ways. The entire experience is designed to teach significant values within the Order of the Arrow. All candidates must successfully complete the induction process in order to become a member.
After 6 months of devoted service as an ordeal member and fulfilling certain requirements, a member may take part in the brotherhood ceremony. This ceremony places further emphasis on the ideals of Scouting and the Order of the Arrow. Completion of this ceremony signifies your dedication and service to the Order.
After two years of exceptional service as a brotherhood member and with the approval of the National Order of the Arrow Committee, a scout or scouter may be recognized with the vigil honor for their distinguished contributions to their Lodge, the Order of the Arrow, and the Scouting program. This honor is bestowed by special selection and is limited to one person for every 50 members registered within the lodge for that year. Anyone in the Order can submit a nomination to your Lodge’s Vigil Chief who will then review it and take it to a vote in front of the Vigil Selection Committee. Those who are selected will then be called out at summer camp and put through their vigil ceremony at your Lodge’s Fall Fellowship event.
COVID-19 Temporary Camping Nights Update
The following temporary modifications to the above have been placed into effect “until further notice”:
Virtual [short-term] camping (i.e., backyard or solo camping) may be counted toward the required nights of camping for OA election eligibility if all the following stipulations are met:
- All virtual camping nights should be a direct result of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and be part of a BSA unit-organized unit camping event (i.e., multiple members of the unit are involved and camping simultaneously at remote locations).
- Some form of unit-organized communications should occur either during or immediately following the event.
- All existing youth protection policies and digital safety guidelines should be followed.
- No more than three (3) nights of virtual camping are to be credited in any month in which government- or council-imposed COVID-19 restrictions are in place.
Virtual long-term camping of five (5) consecutive nights is authorized to be counted toward the long-term camping requirements for OA eligibility consistent with the above guidance and the following additional guidelines:
- A long-term camp plan must be developed and approved by the unit leader prior to the commencement of the long-term camp. This plan is to be individualized to each Scout’s capabilities and situation and should strive to include:
- Progress toward advancement for each Scout
- Outdoor relevant experience consistent with local conditions and restrictions
- Unit-organized communications should occur on a daily basis during the camping experience and include discussion of progress made on summer camp goals.
- An end-of-camp assessment must be conducted with the unit leader to report on progress made during the experience itself and discuss how future virtual long-term camping experiences can be enhanced. During this assessment the unit leader will make the determination if the Scout’s participation warrants granting credit for a completed virtual long-term camping experience in terms of OA eligibility.