There’s nothing more exciting than having a national officer at an Order of the Arrow function. It always proves to be beneficial and everyone has a good time when they’re around. In the Order of the Arrow, four national officers represent the program: National Chief Zach Grinvalsky, National Vice Chief Grant Kim, Eastern Region Chief Matthew Carlson and Gateway Region Chief Michael Whitford. These four officers were all elected at the 2022 National Planning Meeting by their fellow section chiefs and will serve the program for a full term of one year.
Sometimes, your conclave will feature a few special guests, some of which may be national officers. Recently, at Section E9’s Conclave, both the National Chief and National Vice Chief were in attendance. This opportunity allowed for youth from six lodges to interact with and meet the individuals who represent them on a national level.
Why meet them?
At the end of the day, these four officers are just people, but their stories serve as inspiration for their fellow Arrowmen. They all began as ordeal members and progressed their way up through the Section to the offices that they currently hold. Their perseverance to continually serve the Order of the Arrow is the perfect example of what an ideal Arrowman should strive to be like. Scouts both young and old can learn from their lives. Bela T. from Lenape Lodge who shared her experience meeting Tim Reiss, the 2022 national chief, at her own conclave,
“I had the chance to meet Tim Reiss at last year’s conclave and it was a wonderful experience,” said Bela. “National officers are like the OA’s own mini celebrities and meeting the 2022 national chief was really cool. I even got him to sign my sash.”
Among many Arrowmen, these four leaders are held in a very high regard, and often have long lines with many Scouts who all desire to meet them and get a photo. She also spoke about how meeting Tim Reiss helped inspire her to do more in her own lodge and stay connected within the Scouting program.
“After meeting him, it made me recognize the possibilities I have in the OA as a female Arrowman,” reflected Bela. “I felt more empowered to invest work in my lodge and I realized that there will always be more opportunities for me in the Order of the Arrow.”
2023 National Chief Zach Grinvalsky was also inspired by past national officers when he decided to run for office. He reflected:
Over my time in the Order of the Arrow, I've always felt honored to meet the national officers of our organization. They were a shining example of the best that our Order had to offer, and of what I could be one day, if I continued my journey of leadership. No matter who I met, they always made me feel like I belonged and mattered in Scouting and in our brotherhood The impact that they left on me inspired me to serve at that capacity some day, and to continue that legacy with as many Arrowmen as I could! Even to this day, I look to them as role models to keep myself on the right path and to deliver that same impact as the 2023 Order of the Arrow national chief.
Many young Arrowmen who meet national officers often fail to realize that they may be in those shoes themselves one day. People often plant seeds of doubt in their own minds like “I could never be the national chief” or “it’s probably impossible to be an officer in the OA,” but when you meet these officers, you realize it’s not impossible. They show you that anyone with passion and determination can hold a position of responsibility in the Order of the Arrow
How to meet them
National officers regularly have very crowded schedules, so how can you get the chance to meet them? As mentioned earlier, officers are often invited to Section conclaves, so make sure to register for your next conclave! Besides being absolutely fantastic events, you might be lucky enough to get your sash signed by an officer! The next place you’d be likely to meet a national officer is at National Leadership Seminar (NLS) and Developing Youth Leadership Conference (DYLC). These nationally sponsored training events are designed to enhance the leadership abilities of Arrowmen to bring back to their own lodges and sections. Sessions are led with the aid of national chiefs who share their own stories of how they became an officer. Arrowmen may also be able to meet a national officer at other events like Section training, LLDs, and potentially at this year’s 2023 National Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Reserve. Appearances for national officers are often announced ahead of time through social media, so make sure to watch your notifications!
You can even invite a national officer to your own events! Using the form found here, you can request a national officer at any event they may be available for. If you want to see a national officer at your event, get your requests in early!
Bringing Scouting closer together
Most Scouts view the national leadership as very distant and hard to meet, but the OA’s national officers strive to break that mold. For them, there’s nothing more enjoyable than meeting fellow Arrowmen and hearing your stories. They were once in your shoes, and connecting with the program is one of the most rewarding things for them. They come to events to help inspire young Scouts to push the boundaries with what they think is possible. These leaders are the ones who show that what is seemingly impossible is in fact possible. Eastern Region Chief Matt Carlson expressed a similar sentiment when talking about traveling to different events,
“Coming to these events is really my favorite part of the position. It’s so nice to be able to visit lodges and come to events where I can connect with Arrowmen from all over.”
These officers value the connection with others more than anything else, so don’t be afraid to go and say hello to them. You may be extremely nervous to talk to them and possibly even view them as if they were the President of the United States, but they are more than happy to talk to you. Most importantly, an Arrowman is a role model, and these four national officers are the highest examples of a role model that you will ever see.