Re: OA Elections
Bob Haar (rhaar@ALBERT.CS.GMR.COM)
Wed, 31 May 1995 13:51:04 -0400
> From: Stan Hodge <STANH@MAIL.TDOC.TEXAS.GOV>
> A couple of days ago our troop held Order of Arrow elections. I came
> away feeling much as I usually do after this event -- a mix of discontent
> and discomfort and dissatisfaction. Let me explain and see if anyone
> else has had any similar feelings.
> Before beginning the OA guys gave the standard lecture about it being
> an honor organization, vote for the guys who exhibit the best scouting
> spirit, don't vote for your friends, etc. We had five eligible. Four were
> elected. I could have predicted the results before the vote. Friends
> voted for friends; the guy who most needed the recognition was left out.
Sounds to me like the problem is in your troop, not in the OA organization
or wtih the OA rep running the election.
The candidates have to be approved by the scoutmaster before they
are put on the ballot. If scouts who don't deserve to be in the OA
are technically elligible, the scoutmaster can still exclude them.
The list of names that do go up for election should include only those
scouts who like to see in the OA. That is why the election rules
make it possible for everyone on the ballot to get elected.
> I am not suggesting that the program be altered to include all or to elect
> those who need the recognition the most. But it seems wrong to me for
> the BSA, which is founded on the principle of building boys, to be a part
> of a system which effectively destroys some by exclusion.
Maybe you didn't mean what you said, but the sentiment here is wrong.
Those elected should be those that deserve it and who will commit to
future service, not those who "need the recognition." Being elected
to the OA should not be a reward, but rather the start of a serious
commitment to serving the camping program of your district and council.
> I have come to dislike the OA intensely. Nevertheless it may be possible
> to find a alternative which is less destructive. Electing fewer boys at a
> time is one way -- the present system allows most of the eligible boys to
> be selected with those not selected being left out -- again!
Does you see your local chapter/lodge doing anything in the way
of service? Ours run camporees, raise funds for construction
at summer camp, do maintenance at all the council facilities, and
provide cermonial teams to the summer camp program. They make
a real contribution and are visible to the troops.
If your local OA units are not doing this, maybe you should get
involved as an adult. Your troop committee can elect adults to
the OA. Do you have any adults who are active in the lodge or
> Perhaps elections should be limited to only one per troop; or a formula
> which would limit election to a small percentage of any troop (no more
> than 5 percent of total enrollment per year, perhaps). This would
> strengthen the idea of the honor organization without hurting the others
> who would normally readily acknowledge the best of their group. This is
> hardly the case where 50 percent or more -- often 80 percent are
Again, if the balot contained only those who would make good
candidates, this would not be a problem.
I have seen problems in troops who put scouts up for election
as soon as they meet the formal criteria. The result is a bunch
of young OA members who go to a couple of meetings, never do
anything and then drop out.
Maybe your scoutmaster should have a conference with each of the
potential OA candidates and clue them in to the commitment that
they are making if they join OA. If they are not willing to make
this commitment, then they shouldn't be on the ballot.
> Does anyone else feel this way or am I alone? I will appreciate your
> comments because I am on the verge of recommending a complete
> boycott of the OA by our troop -- and any other troop I can influence. I
> truly feel it is contrary to the spirit of scouting as it was intended.
Please don't. It sounds like you are genuinely concerned about having
a good prgram. Why don't you get involved with OA and try to make
Bob Haar (email: firstname.lastname@example.org )
Asst. Scoutmaster, BSA Troop 188, Clinton Valley Council, Michigan
Chippewa Lodge #29, WWW
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City