I am going to start this article off by being 100% frank. If you know me, you know that I am never afraid to speak my mind and that I don’t beat around the bush. Here it is…
I thought the Order of the Arrow was a joke. I thought it was borderline disrespectful towards Native Americans. I thought that in an organization that has always been against “clubs” and other “secret groups”, that this was in a way, shameful to promote.
While I had heard of the Order of the Arrow and participated in a troop election when 2 of our troop members were elected, I frankly never paid attention to what it was all about. My first real experience with the Order came when I attended my first scout camp at Shenandoah as a new Assistant Scoutmaster (yes first, I never attended as a youth). At one of the campfires, they called for silence during what they called a “call out” ceremony. All of a sudden I notice all the sashes and the people wearing them. Next thing I knew, people in Native American regalia start going on about some story that I did not pay attention too because I was finding it hard to take what they were talking about and wearing seriously. They brought forward several scouts and after finishing their script, they all marched away.
Now I understand that my thinking that way was short minded. I had not seen that kind of regalia used since I was a Cub Scout watching an Arrow of Light ceremony. Even then, it was hard to focus on the message being given for the same reason (granted I was 8 or 9 then and have no excuse as an adult).
After going through training, working with other troops and doing my own research, I finally started to figure out what I saw and what the Order is about. It was a shock to me because our troop – other than one election – had never talked about, been affiliated with or knew about (minus a few people) what it was while I was a youth.
I don’t like secrets! Even after being recently elected by fellow adults in the troop, I still had no real understanding of the true history of the Order or why there was so much Native American influence (I only knew why it was around and that it was the national honor society for the Boy Scouts of America). I also had no idea why no one was willing to talk about it. That all changed when I went on my Ordeal with Gavin and Parker back in March.
Let me get something clear for all of you wondering, the Order of the Arrow is NOT a secret society. It’s history, reason and mission is public and any member that says otherwise needs to be corrected. A lot of bad stigma can come from being unclear about what is “secret” and what is not. The only truly safeguarded part of the Order of the Arrow is the ceremonies used after the public call-out ceremony as well as the “Ordeal” process itself. The primary reason for this is to help boys feel a part of a brotherhood, something special, and honored. Never once during the ceremonies that I was a part of during my Ordeal weekend did I feel that it was “too much” or inappropriate.
Any parent, scout or leader that has questions about the Order of the Arrow, please feel free to contact me (info found here). I will do my best (being new and all) to answer any questions I can or direct you to the lodge in your area so that they can help you.
To all Arrowmen, don’t support the stigma that this is a secret organization and in turn make other scouts, parents or leaders feel like the Order is not a safe, or honorable part of the Boy Scouts of America. Be ambassadors to the true meaning of the Order of the Arrow.
I encourage all scouts, parents, leaders and anyone not affiliated with scouting to please read each section found under the “About” menu on the official site for the Order of the Arrow. I especially wish to ask that all Arrowmen, new or long time members to please read it as well. If you are part of a troop that does not have any participation in the Order, please contact your local lodge or chapter to find out how to hold elections. Help recognize the boys who truly uphold the meaning of the scout oath and law and help them understand that it’s a way of life, not a chore.
Yours in the Brotherhood of Cheerful Service,