Cory was nominated by his LDS-sponsored troop to be a candidate for the Order of the Arrow at age 13. A few months later Cory attended an Ordeal where he joined the Order. He soon became the unofficial troop OA representative, setting a strong example even for troop members who had joined the OA before he did. (Learn more about the official OA Troop Representative position.)
Even after becoming a teacher in the Aaronic Priesthood, Cory continued to serve the troop as he worked toward his Eagle rank. He enthusiastically promoted the OA to troop members, recruited OA members of the troop to attend chapter and lodge functions, ensured that the troop held OA elections each year, and helped candidates attend Ordeals.
By the time Cory became his lodge’s secretary, he was responsible for many boys in his troop being active OA members who strongly supported the troop and used their growing leadership skills to bolster a vibrant troop program. Cory’s Scoutmaster, who was not a member of the Order, was thrilled with the strength OA members provided to the troop, even after they advanced to the teachers and priests quorums.
If you are involved in LDS Scouting, you may be wondering why you should encourage OA membership among the ranks of your Scouts. Your boys are already so busy that some of them have trouble making it to troop meetings and activities. Do they really need yet another thing consuming their precious time?
Cory’s Scoutmaster found that the boys from his troop who joined the Order became more faithful troop members who also supplied positive leadership. He wanted more boys like them. Some of these boys went on to serve on Scout camp staffs and in OA leadership positions. But they still remained valuable resources to the troop, helping to provide strong Scouting experiences for younger boys. Why wouldn’t a Scoutmaster want older boys like this who make his job easier?
The experience of Cory and his troop was first made possible by a Scoutmaster who had a good troop camping program. Since one of the qualifications for OA membership is 15 nights of Scout camping, only boys who belong to a troop with a vigorous year-round camping program are likely to qualify for membership in the Order early enough for them to be of great service to the troop.
If your troop’s camping program is anemic at present, you might consider what could be done to make it better. If your troop repeatedly arranges campouts that end up drawing few troop members, it could be that the quality of camping activities and opportunities for youth leadership need strengthening.
You might consider contacting your local Order of the Arrow chapter and asking them to help you out. They could provide training at a few troop meetings. They might even be willing to camp with your troop to provide some extra excitement and show troop members how great Scout camping can be. They are, after all, members of Scouting’s society of honor campers. Then when your boys join the Order they can serve by passing these skills on to others.
Questions to Ponder
- Did you know that having OA members in your troop can make your job as a Scout leader easier?
- Did you realize that your local Order of the Arrow chapter can help strengthen your troop’s camping program?
- What will you do differently now that you have this knowledge?
-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.