Q. Hi Ray,
I would like to know if parents / non-scouters are allowed at the Ordeal Ceremony?
Thanks for your question. If you are wondering about this, maybe some others are, as well. The decision as to whether parents or non-members may attend the ceremonies is ultimately up to the Scout Executive, as the Supreme Chief of the Fire. However, our expectation, as stated in the OA Handbook, is that parents not attend the ceremonies. The ceremonies are open to current members and candidates for membership. Parents (or other non-members) may not be spectators at ceremonies beyond the call-out. Page 30 of the OA Handbook has the relevant text:
"Youth and adult candidates for membership into the Order of the Arrow are introduced to the Order's concepts of servant leadership though a safeguarded ceremonial induction. Nonmembers should not attend the ceremonies.
Although the content of the ceremonies is private, the ceremonies were designed to avoid offending any religious belief and have received the approval of religious leaders. The ceremonies are consistent with Scouting traditions and the spirit of the Scout Oath and Law.
The Order of the Arrow recognizes and respects the right of any parent, Scout leader, or religious leader to be interested in the content of the ceremony. The lodge adviser, or his designee, may discuss the content of the ceremony and any other issue brought to his attention by one of these interested and responsible adults, with the understanding that the adult will maintain the confidentiality of the ceremony.
If after discussing the ceremony with the lodge adviser, the parent, Scout leader, or religious leader continues to have questions about the content of the ceremony, that person will be permitted to read the ceremony text and view the Order's ceremony training DVD. Following this, parents will be in a position to decide whether to allow their son to participate in the ceremony. Candidates may not become members of the Order of the Arrow without completing the pre-Ordeal and Ordeal ceremonies."
In the end, the scout executive has the ability to permit exceptions to this guideline. In that case, the scout executive should be made aware of the steps taken to help the parent understand the induction process and then allow or disallow the request to view the ceremony, articulating that there is to be quiet observation only, without camera, video, or voice recording.
Hope this helps clarify how we might approach this question.