Q: Hello Mike,
We recently discovered an interesting thread regarding beaded OA sashes. A group of us have interest in presenting a beaded sash as a gift to a district Scouter who has been in Scouting since 1941. This year would mark his 75th year. Here is the thread. While we agree with the general principle of the answer Ray provided, we do have something that we’d like to mention. Ours is neither a large or financially fortunate troop. We do everything we can to make Scouting easier for all of the families. To discourage a beaded sash mainly on the principle of equality is kind of a double standard. There are tons of items that a Scout/Scouter can display and wear that speak of a trip to Jamboree, or even NOAC. Living in California, a trip to Jambo runs anywhere from $5,000 and up. Doesn’t this create the very “have and have not” situation you were trying to avoid? Our Scouts have all experienced tremendous personal growth through their inductions into the Order, and we highly encourage them to participate as much as they can. Other troops in our district see the OA as a “distraction” from troop functions. Wouldn’t it be better to encourage any participation that brings satisfaction and pride to an Arrowman, especially if he is willing to invest the time and effort to produce something special? Perhaps even deeming it commemorative rather than a part of uniform?
Thank you for you time,
Troop 2379, Canyon Country
A: Arrowmen of Troop 2379:
I think the policy as stated in the thread you referenced is absolutely the way the National O Committee interprets the wearing of sashes. The official language at the bottom of the sashes topic on page 64 of the 2015 printing of the Order of the Arrow Handbook states:
“Sashes may not be altered in any way or form. Beading or any other material is not permitted on the sash. Nothing is to be worn on the sash, including signatures, patches of any kind, pins, or legends. The only exceptions are the 50th, 60th, and 100th anniversary awards. All of these patches may be worn by those who have earned them. The 100th anniversary award will be sewn one-half inch above the upper Brotherhood bar. The 50th or 60th anniversary award will be sewn one-half inch below the lower Brotherhood bar. If both the 50th and 60th anniversary awards have been earned, the 60th anniversary award is sewn one-half inch below the 50th anniversary award.”
Based on this language, the bottom line answer is that beaded sashes that are to be worn are not officially acceptable. What I will tell you is that my lodge made several beaded items for me over the last 20 years. These include a beaded necklace that indicated my years as National Vice Chief, and the front of a sash that was done in beads recognizing my Vigil Honor name and placed it in a frame for presentation. With your skills it sounds like you might be able to make a fancy non-sash type item for presentation. I would encourage you to make the item and deem it a collectable not to be worn! Be creative; you have talent that you can use to make something the person you are trying to honor will cherish. If you do decided to go in this direction, please send me a picture!
I hope this helps! Thanks for doing what you do!