6,500 Arrowmen gathered together in-person, with many more joining as remote delegates, for the National Order of the Arrow Conference (NOAC) from July 25-30 at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. This was the first time our organization was able to gather in-person at the national level since NOAC 2018, four long years ago. Over the past two years, our programming continued with the virtual Momentum series, but the energy and fellowship of thousands of Arrowmen gathering together in Knoxville was an exciting opportunity to connect with our fellow brothers from around the country.
Not many were bored at NOAC. Arrowmen climbed, shot, threw tomahawks, raced 5Ks and triathlons, played flag football, participated in the Hackathon, went SCUBA diving, played Jeopardy, and somehow found time to sleep each night. Being able to play and compete alongside Arrowmen from across the nation was an incredible experience for all.
Delegates at NOAC experienced inspiring shows, top-notch training opportunities, and fun recreational activities. Overall, the Conference was a resounding success! A typical day for delegates at NOAC began with breakfast at one of the University’s dining halls and then training courses taught by expert Arrowmen from around the country. Both youth and adult delegates were able to select training courses that best fit their interests. In the afternoon, there was no shortage of activities to choose from. See some below:
Each evening (except for the region gatherings on Thursday), delegates convened in the Thompson-Boling Arena for the evening shows. Celebrating alongside 6,500 Arrowmen singing, dancing, and laughing together in the arena, National Chief Tim Reiss and National Vice Chief Steven Buer each gave impassioned speeches which reiterated the Conference’s theme: Tomorrow Begins Today. Following the shows, delegates might participate in some patch trading and fellowship before heading to bed to prepare for another busy day at NOAC 2022!
On Thursday evening, the Gateway and Eastern Regions each gathered for the first time ever. Here, Arrowmen from each region were able to meet with one another and experience the fellowship of their new region identities. At shows, Gateway Region Chief Dirk Smelser and Eastern Region Chief Alex Pillis went head-to-head in a dance battle and other contests, building the identities of our brand new regions.
Diversity & Inclusion
New this year was the Admonition Team’s presence at NOAC. The Admonition Team, whose mission is supporting diversity, equity, inclusion, and wellbeing, supported multiple programs at the Conference, including affinity spaces for Scouts of Color, Women in Scouting, ArrowPride, and Scouts with Disabilities. Additionally, the Admonition Team held training and lunch-and-learns to help lodge leaders better understand how to support and welcome members from different backgrounds. All Admonition Team programs were exceptionally well attended and many national leaders of both the OA and the BSA stopped by to support these efforts as part of the organization’s wider goals of ensuring Scouting and the OA are available to everyone.
On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings, Arrowmen attended hundreds of training sessions put on by an expert team of handpicked facilitators. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive with only 2% of reviews being negative. Nearly all sessions were built from scratch, and will soon be available for lodges and sections to use at their training events. Delegates gained skills from guiding a vision to performing a religious service to managing their finances. All said, there was something for everyone to learn at NOAC - even remote delegates watching from home.
Remote Delegate Program
Over 600 Arrowmen who were unable to make it to the beautiful University of Tennessee campus were able to participate virtually as remote delegates. This year’s remote delegate program was even bigger and better than past years’ and many more of our members were able to experience the Conference from the comfort of their own homes!
If you missed out on the fun or are wishing that the Conference had not ended so soon, don’t worry! Next summer, the Order of the Arrow will support the 2023 National Jamboree through Operation Arrow at the Summit Bechtel Reserve. You can find more information on how you can participate in the OA’s service effort at the Jamboree here. NOAC will also return in 2024 so be on the lookout for additional information, such as dates and location!
For more information on NOAC 2022, check out noac2022.org.