Youth Protection policies for Order of the Arrow events with female youth members are consistent with those of any Scouting event with female youth members present as specified in the Guide to Safe Scouting. For Youth Protection purposes, youth members are defined those under 18 years of age, while anyone 18 years or older is treated as an adult.
The BSA adopted the Youth Protection policies in the Guide to Safe Scouting and Scouting’s Barriers for Abuse for the safety and well-being of its members. These policies primarily protect youth members; however, they also serve to protect adult leaders. All parents and caregivers should understand that our leaders are to abide by these safeguards. Parents and youth are strongly encouraged to use these safeguards outside the Scouting program. Registered adult leaders must follow these policies with all Scouting youth outside of Scouting activities. All adult leaders are required to adhere to the Scouter Code of Conduct. Health, safety (including Youth Protection), and the supervision of youth members must always be paramount in decision making. Policies change periodically, and adult leaders are encouraged to periodically check on-line references such as the Guide to Safe Scouting to ensure they are following current policy in the area of Youth Protection.
The following are highlights of relevant sections of the updated Youth Protection policies that directly apply to OA events:
- Eligible participating adult volunteer leaders at OA events must be:
- 21 years of age and over
- Registered as a volunteer with the BSA
- Have gone through a background check, and
- Be up to date on Youth Protection training (which includes having completed the revised Youth Protection training which went into effect in March 2018).
- Either adult males or females may serve in any adult OA position. Youth Protection requirements apply to both male and female participants.
- Two registered adult leaders 21 years of age or over are required at all Scouting activities, including meetings. This is a change from Youth Protection requirements prior to October 1st, 2018/
- At least one registered female adult leader 21 years of age or older must be present for any activity involving female youth members, including meetings.
- Notwithstanding the minimum adult leader requirements, age-appropriate and program-appropriate supervision must always be provided. Adult leaders must be close enough to see and hear youth members.
- Separate shower and latrine facilities should be provided for male and female adults as well as for male and female youth. If separate facilities are not available, separate times must be scheduled and posted.
- Separate accommodations for adult males and females as well as youth males and females are required.
- Separate tenting arrangements must be provided for male and female adults as well as for male and female youth.
- Youth members sharing tents must be no more than two years apart in age.
- Youth and adults tent separately.
- Spouses may share tents.
- In cases where tents are not being used, the intent of this requirement can be met by providing adequate separation between the location of adult participants and youth members, male and female, in separate camping areas
Recognizing the uniqueness of conducting Ordeals, the following application of these policies is provided specifically for the conduct of Order of the Arrow Ordeals:
- All participating adults must be registered as adult leaders in the BSA.
- Two registered adult leaders 21 years of age or over, at least one of which must be a female, must be present (i.e., within visual proximity) at all Ordeal events involving female youth members, including all ceremonial events and service work.
- Mixed male-female service teams/clans are authorized (appropriate adult leadership must be present as indicated above).
- Male and female candidates will be placed in overnight camping areas with sufficient separation to meet the spirit and intent of the requirement for separate accommodations.
- Any nighttime activities must have appropriate adult supervision as indicated above.
- Adult leaders are to walk through the open camping areas at unannounced times throughout the night of the Ordeal to provide roving supervision. Youth Protection policies, including two deep leadership must be maintained during these walk-throughs.
- Adult OA leaders are encouraged to complete the Understanding and Preventing Youth-on-Youth Abuse Training for Camp Staff.