An Arrowman is a brother. Something that the Order of the Arrow values is fellowship. Fellowship provides a bonding opportunity between Arrowmen that may be friends, or provides an opportunity to make new ones. Fellowship mainly falls under the recreational aspects of events. It is a more relaxed environment for Arrowmen to interact outside of service and ceremonies.
Fellowship activities can include anything from a movie night and lawn games to visiting a rodeo or museum. An activity that Arrowmen will find that is very popular is patch trading. Patch trading is an amazing bonding experience to meet new people and get patches from lodges that they may have never heard of. There is usually a designated area at NOAC filled to the brim with people trading patches.
Spring and fall fellowships are very common in lodges across the country. They are seen as an activation event to bring newly inducted members back and to keep them active in the lodge. Lexi U. comes from Lenape Lodge in New Jersey, where they recently held their spring fellowship at a smaller mini golf establishment.
"It was a fun and exciting opportunity to see friends and interact with newly inducted members or members that I haven’t gotten the chance to talk to yet,” Lexi recalled.
While at the event, Arrowmen stated that their favorite part of fellowships are seeing friends and connecting in a more recreational setting. Others stated that fall fellowships are their favorite event, since they get to see everyone’s creativity through their Halloween costumes. Fall and spring fellowships are very powerful events that create bonds between brothers that can last a lifetime.
Sections also offer fellowship events with their trainings, such as the ACT (Adapt, Collaborate and Thrive) Conference and section conclave. Conclaves are hosted by a different lodge in each section every year. The host Lodge of each Conclave has a great opportunity to facilitate and organize the Conclave Vice Chiefs that organize the whole event. Conclave provides a broader group of Arrowmen to meet and interact with. Instead of only seeing people in the lodge, Arrowmen can meet people from the different lodges in each section. Section training events are training provided by each section that enhances leadership skills within youth and adult members with courses tailored to each Arrowman’s individual interest. There are courses for Officers, Leaders and other Arrowmen. As for the fellowship, Arrowmen interact before and after the trainings with games, music and trivia to bond as a section.
There is also fellowship on a national level such as NOAC, the National Order of the Arrow Conference, which is held every two years. This is a national event where lodges from all over meet in one place and celebrate brotherhood and service. There are trainings based on people’s interests and positions. There are huge shows each night with interactive lights and games hosted by the region chiefs, national chief and national vice chief. Arrowmen are also provided with a common area to interact. Each region also has a region bash that gives Arrowmen the ability to see people from their region, including lodges inside and outside of their section. Another fellowship opportunity at the 2022 NOAC was the Ignite Festival. The Ignite Festival offers an opportunity for each lodge to have a table to showcase what they're all about. The festival also includes music, games and other activities. NOAC has proven to be a major life changing experience for people all over that have attended. It’s an eye opening experience that will follow an Arrowmen throughout their life.
Fellowship is so important to the Order of the Arrow because it creates a bond between Arrowmen. It gives a true opportunity to Arrowmen to showcase their personality to others and make new friends that they will stay with for years to come. Adult Arrowmen in my lodge who have gone through past mergers have stated that fellowship is what kept the new lodge alive. It gave them hope during a hard time. It put smiles on faces burdened with stress and worry and kept people coming back.
At the foundation, the Order of the Arrow needs fellowship. It creates unbreakable bonds between people and keeps lodges alive and happy through hard times; it provides eye opening experiences and changes lives.The bonds of brotherhood are almost impossible to break. Fellowship is the celebration of brotherhood and service, it’s the celebration of all the hard work put in everyday and can be celebrated in any way. Fellowship has the ability to change lives. Encourage inactive Arrowmen to seize the opportunity to attend fellowship events to ignite their involvement with the OA. It may be the event that changes your view on Scouting, whether it’s in a big or small way is up to you. Take the step forward.