(no name) ((no email))
Mon, 17 Aug 1998 13:18:12 +0000
"James H. Brown" <jbrown@BURGOYNE.COM> asked in light of the
"changes" to the Safe Guide for Scouting:
"All forms of hazing, initiations, ridiclue, or inappropriate
teasing are prohibited and should not be allowed."
>So, since the OA ordeal is clearly an initiation (even though it
>may be a positive one) is that outlawed?
If the Order of the Arrow Ordeal, Brotherhood or Vigil Honor
ceremony is done AS WRITTEN in the appropriate booklet, it is NOT a
"initiation". The ceremonies are basically "induction ceremonies"
which do NOT cause any harm to a participant, nor does it asks
participants to do anything which would be considered even by the
more liberal of citizens "illegal, immoral or offensive".
This is a question I get asked a lot, especially by parents whom
are leery already of anything that "smacks "initiation" ". Here's
how I answer it, which should clear up your (and anyone else's)
"What goes on during this "Ordeal"? Are they asked to do something
Scout-like or are they asked to walk around in shorts or
The Ordeal parts encourage inward reflection of the ideals of
Scouting: the Scout Oath and Law, the Motto and Slogan. Ordeal
candidates participate in Scout-appropriate events. They eat the
same food that all others eat; they perform tasks alongside Order
of the Arrow members, and they are not harrassed nor encouraged
verbally nor in any other way to do anything outside of what has
been established in writing by the National Order of the Arrow
Committee and reviewed by the BSA's National Executive Board.
They are fully-dressed during their Ordeal and at no time are they
told to disrobe partially or fully. There is no need for this. Nor
is there any need for candidates to take off their shoes or socks,
nor to wear anything special other than the special Order of the
Arrow sash received at the conclusion of the ceremony
"So why is it all a "secret"? Why can't I watch and see what goes
on? And why am I being told that "You don't need to know" when I'm
asking these questions to my son's Scoutmaster (or other "adult in
"Onlookers", even if they are OA members, are discouraged because
they detract from the specialness of the Ordeal or Brotherhood or
Vigil Honor ceremony. It is NOT that we don't want you to observe:
if you feel VERY STRONGLY that you must do so, arrangements can be
made through the OA Lodge to have you to oversee parts of the
Ordeal or Brotherhood. There are NO "secret societies" in the BSA.
None. The OA is NOT a secret, but elements of the various
ceremonies are kept from non-members as an element of mystery only.
Those adults whom tell you "you don't need to know" don't remember
that the idea of the OA is to HONOR Scouts for their ability to be
of service to their fellow Scouts, for their cheerfulness and
positive attitude toward Scouting and camping.
"Do they do anything dealing with blood? I've heard that they had
to "swear by blood" from someone...I don't want my son cut or
harmed in any way..."
No. No Scouts or Scouters are cut, marked, or even pricked with a
needle during the OA's ceremonies. Period. Not even
"symbolically". At one time, various Lodges used to have a mock
element whereby they would rub a piece of cardboard across a arm
and rub arms together....non of that happens today. Natually, being
out in the woods, your son MAY be cut or injured as a part of doing
various tasks around camp or walking to or from various locations
on the camp property, but those cuts and injuries are quickly
treated by the OA staff on camp and those seriously injured are
quickly taken to a medical treatment facility.
Again, the ceremonies used in the OA are reviewed by the BSA's
Health and Safety, Boy Scout Program, and Risk Management Divisions
to insure that they are appropriate, does not cause harm and
reflect the true intent of the Order of the Arrow. Additionally,
the ceremonies are reviewed by religious leaders in the BSA and
outside the BSA to insure that they do not conflict with religious
principles or beliefs. One of the results from such a strenous
review, is the removal of "red arrows" which were drawn across the
foreheads or arms of new candidates selected to become part of the
Order of the Arrow. This was unneccessary and a violation of some
Scouts' religious upbringings, and it was removed and not used
"Can I see an entire ceremony from start to finish on tape? Does
anyone videotape the ceremonies?"
Recording instruments are normally not allowed during the various
ceremonies. Some Lodges do have a recording of the ceremonies
without participants as part of a contest between Lodges to have
the "best ceremonial team". There's also an excellent videotape
prepared by the BSA's Order of the Arrow National Committee to
explain fully what the OA is all about and what it is NOT about.
If you desire such items, I'll get with the Lodge Chief and Advisor
and see if they have a copy to loan you.
Those questions and my answers pretty well answer the concerns that
the OA is an "initiation" of sorts. OA Lodge Chiefs and Advisors
should be aware that there are many parents and Scouters that
refuse to have anything to do with the OA because of some of those
issues. They should be proactive and talk frankly with Scouters and
with parents whom express those concerns to insure that we're not
losing Scouts and Scouters due to "things they have heard" or were
"told" from those wanting to "crank up the anixiety level" of the
new candidates nor from those that "didn't get elected" and have an
"axe to grind".
(c) 1998 Mike Walton ("no such thing as strong coffee,...") (502) 827-9201
(settummanque, the blackeagle) http://dynasty.net/users/blkeagle
241 Fairview Dr., Henderson, KY 42420-4339 firstname.lastname@example.org
privately at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
---- FORWARD in service to youth ----
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City