Q: Hello Mike,
I was wondering if there is any specific policy regarding having non-member guests and parents attend an Ordeal banquet. In the past, we have been allowing guests to come to our Ordeal banquet, which is held right after the Ordeal ceremony on Saturday night. This is when we also do our new member orientation. We figured that it would be best if parents could attend the orientation so they could get information about the Order of the Arrow. However, we have been receiving guests who are not parents and who are non-members. This has presented some problems as sometimes we have difficulty preventing some non-members from attending the Ordeal ceremony, and we had to tailor our orientation so it does not reveal any safeguarded material.
Is there any policy or recommendation regarding whether guests are allowed at the Ordeal banquet after the Ordeal ceremony, and whether they are allowed to attend the new member orientation? Thank you for your help.
The simple answer is that there is no prohibitive policy on such guests. Many lodges encourage the attendance of parents and Scout leaders at the banquet/orientation. I think it is a great strategy to get parents and other responsible parties really engaged and understanding the importance of membership in the Order.
What the National OA Committee has been clear about is who should attend the actual ceremony. My suggestion is that you police that attendance carefully. I pulled out a couple statements from the 2015 printing of the Order of the Arrow Handbook that you might reference. Page 34 of the 2015 edition states:
“Youth and adult candidates for membership into the Order of the Arrow are introduced to the Order’s concepts of servant leadership through a safeguarded ceremonial induction. Non-members should not attend the ceremonies. 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 issues 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.”
It also states:
“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. 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.
Finally, on the role of mystery in the Ordeal process, Page 47 states: “Arrowmen maintain an air of mystery about the Order and its ceremonies because of the attractive role mystery plays. To maintain mystery, the Order restricts the pre-Ordeal and Ordeal ceremonies to candidates and members. Other ceremonies of the Order are conducted the same way.”
It is strongly encouraged, in order to keep the evening focused on the candidate, that non-members not attend any of our ceremonies. I see nothing wrong with non-members attending the post-Ordeal banquet. Sure, you may need to tailor what you say in the new member orientation, but having parents sharing in the joy and recognition of their loved one has many benefits when membership renewal time comes. You might even turn it into a public recognition of joining the organization. Don’t forget this is also the time to plant the seed of sealing their membership with the Brotherhood.
I hope this helps! Thanks for doing what you do!