Q. Hello Ray,
I have been told that the reason that a Venturing crew cannot be or vote in OA members is because to be in Venturing a youth does not have to go through Boy Scouting first. One of the qualifications one has to meet for OA however is that he attains the rank of First Class. If he hasn't been through Scouting and just joins a crew however, he can't meet that obligation.
Another reason is (from what I understand), that females aren't permitted in OA, and Venturing is co-ed. Shouldn't the stipulation of being in Boy Scouting and meeting certain rank requirements entitle crews to vote in OA members?
A. Hello Paul,
This is a great question and seems to be a hot topic across the nation. Let us first debunk the myths that you have asked about.
Myth number one "Venturing members cannot be in the OA." The Order of the Arrow has always been a program associated with the Boy Scouts and their troop experience. The Order of the Arrow is a subcommittee of the national Boy Scout Committee. The National Exploring Committee and then the National Venturing Committee were separate entities on the same level as the Boy Scout Committee as was, for example, the National Cub Scout committee. This is where the difference comes to light. While the Order of the Arrow is the National Honor Society of the Boy Scouts, we have no authority in the Venturing program and have not been included in their program. Just like there is not a version of our Order to support the Cub Scout Program.
The difference these two programs is really where the line is drawn. However, if a young man is elected in his Boy Scout Troop or Team and retains his membership in the Order after joining a Venture crew, he can continue to serve as a full-fledged Member of the Order with all of the benefits and responsibilities that entails.
Myth number two. "Females are not permitted in the OA." This is absolutely false. Women have made a great, positive impact on the Order. The National OA committee is very fortunate, for example, to have Kay Trick as a highly effective member. All of the females in the Order at this point in time have been inducted as adults. The real issue here is exactly what you stated in your first point, the attainment of the First Class rank. There is only one set of requirements for youth members to be eligible for election into our Order, and the second of those requirements states that the Scout must have obtained the rank of First Class. You have it right that, predicated on this requirement; a member must have been elected by his Troop or Team AFTER having attained that rank. Once someone turns twenty-one years of age, a new set of requirements come into being.
If you would like the official documentation on Membership Requirements, it is The Guide to Officers and Advisers, found on the OA web site in the Publications Section available here. Or spelling out the policy on Unit Elections in Venturing Crews can be found in the Operational Update 99-2. The direct link to the policy is available here.
I hope that this helps.