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Leading Your Unit in Service

  Ethan Bardsley             OA Today

Leading Your Unit in Service

In 1999, the Scouts BSA introduced a new leadership position into its program to help further expand the reach of the Order of the Arrow. The Order of the Arrow Unit Representative position allowed lodges to reach local Scouting units. The core foundation of Scouting lies within a Scout’s troop, ship, or crew, and before then, establishing a real connection between the two parties proved difficult for many lodges. Before the Scouts BSA introduced the position, it was up to good-natured Arrowmen to fill their units in on the latest happenings within their local lodge. However, formally designating an Arrowman to handle the in-between for lodges and units helped youth and adult leaders learn more about how vital lodges can be for units. The program also benefited the Scouts by giving them another possible position to gain the much-needed time in a leadership role to progress through the ranks.

Being an Order of the Arrow Unit Representative is also a place to demonstrate the program’s continual mission of selfless service to others. In this position, Scouts can serve their unit and be the forerunner for promoting unit-based service activities. They can show their leadership and commitment to helping others through their activities and are also able to guide others in that same mission of service. The Scout in this position also has a specific patch to wear on their uniform, which features the OA’s iconic red arrow. Having it sewn onto their uniform allows the OA to follow them and remain visible for anyone to see and ask about. 

OA Representative shoulder patch
An OA Unit Representative shoulder patch. This position serves as the liaison between Scouting troops and local OA lodges and is vital to strengthening the values of service and brotherhood in both programs.

Dylan R., an Arrowman from Lenape Lodge, shared his experience as an Order of the Arrow Unit Representative and how it affected his Scouting career.

“I really felt like a liaison for my troop. I was able to spread the word of the OA to my unit who knew nothing about it and helped introduce them all to the concept of being a leader for others and promoting cheerful service.”

He described his time in the position as one of the most rewarding experiences. Dylan shared that his time as an OA Unit Representative allowed him to bring the level of service we usually see in the OA to his home troop. By holding and attending events like clothing drives, Scouting for Food drives, park cleanups, and other local events, Scouts can attain that simple yet fulfilling level of service we should all strive for. Service can come in many different forms; it doesn’t all have to be hard manual labor. Projects like helping run a voter registration drive or visiting citizens at a nursing home are equally important acts of service that may not require as much work.

Dylan’s role as an Arrowman also helped him be a better role model and example for those younger Scouts in his unit. These Scouts looked up to Dylan and frequently sought his guidance. It gave them someone to aspire to become and helped them forge their Scouting path.

Arrowmen taking selfie
Dylan R. at Pine Hill Scout Reservation. Dylan’s role as OA Unit Representative allowed him to be an active member in both his unit and home lodge and enabled him to further the Scouting program.

“The OA Representative is really the main contact between the unit and the lodge, so for me, I felt like I was serving the lodge as the main voice for their program. The service I was able to provide for my unit while in that role was great for everyone as well.”

While different from other youth leadership roles, the Order of the Arrow Unit Representative position is still one of the most valuable and critical positions within a Scouting troop, ship, or crew. The relationships you can forge and the standard of service you can bring to the role only help bring out the best qualities of the Order of the Arrow.

“After I began putting more effort into my position, I noticed a lot of the values of the Order of the Arrow emerge in my unit,” Dylan stated. “By pushing for that high level of continual service, we as a troop really valued the Scout Oath more than ever before.”

So, if your unit doesn’t have an OA Representative, talk to your youth and adult leaders and express your desire to fill the vacancy. It may be a wonderful chance to bring a budding Arrowman to light, or who knows, you may be the next Order of the Arrow Unit Representative. To view resources used to lead an OA Representative to success, view the OA Unit Representative Toolkit here.

Arrowmen giving presentation about OA Representatives to other Arrowmen
A presentation being given on OA Unit Representatives. Visiting local units is a vital component of the OA Unit Representative position, for it gives Arrowmen the chance to present the numerous opportunities for leadership and service that exist within the program.