As the COVID-19 pandemic quarantine rolls into its seventh month, the question on every lodge's plate is how to operate during these unprecedented times. One of the biggest concerns, coming off of the call to action released during Thrive and continuation with ACT, being lodge inductions and growth.
The Order of the Arrow has not faltered in these difficult times and made history on March 25, 2020, by allowing virtual unit elections (updated June 3, 2020). In addition, the Order of the Arrow took steps to innovate the program to match the times by modifying the camping nights membership requirement on April 29, 2020, to accommodate virtual camping (updated June 3, 2020, and extended allowance to long-term camping as well on June 9, 2020). Recently, guidelines to conduct virtual or hybrid induction events were released during the National Council of Chiefs during the Momentum: Launch on August 5, 2020.
These guidelines serve as an important step forward in continuing our traditions and allows the lodge to customize their induction events to match their local requirements. Each lodge is encouraged to produce their own plan, in accordance with CDC guidelines and their local Scout executive, on how to hold their induction events. Two key aspects for virtual induction events are the recommendations to use elangomats to ensure completion of the four tests of the Ordeal and a moderator to explain the differences between a traditional ceremony to a virtual one.
Despite the evident differences, there have already been numerous examples of success. For example, Tannu Lodge of the Nevada Area Council in the Western Region has had 62 candidates to process this year compared to 28 in 2019 and wanted to ensure their growth with an induction event. By developing a COVID-19 policy relief proposal that was approved by the Nevada Area Council, they were able to hold a virtual induction event for 23 of their candidates, beating their number of inducted candidates last year by 21%! Not only did all 23 candidates show up on time to the ceremonies and their service project locations, but they were also able to get parental assistance in performing the event, including the four tests of the Ordeal, without any issues. The highlight of the event was an outstanding 270 hours of service to the community which candidates felt was more meaningful than the traditional service to camps. Lodge officers did find room for improvement in service project coordination and behind the scenes issues, but the event was a huge success overall.
The fruition of these new guidelines marks a page in the history of the Order of the Arrow and goes to show the hard work that is put into the success of the Brotherhood. Never before has the Lord Baden-Powell quote, “A Scout is never taken by surprise; he knows exactly what to do when anything unexpected happens,” rang more true.
If your lodge or chapter has had success with an idea, we want to hear about it! Share your innovation with OA leaders nationwide by visiting oa-bsa.org/drivingmomentum.
For more information about the Order of the Arrow COVID-19 policies and guidelines, please visit oa-bsa.org/coronavirus.