“It’s easy to forget, in our busy lives, why we give our time and our energy to the OA...and easy to forget what worthwhile purpose it serves.”
“Because it’s easy to forget, we can sometimes lose our way. But if that happens, we have learned how to find ourselves again—that’s a Scouting skill.”
“And because we’re Scouts, we know that humans have always relied on the stars for navigation. Since antiquity we have looked to the north, particularly to ONE star, in the constellation Ursa Minor, because it was always there to orient the traveler. In Old English it was the ‘Ship-Star,’ in Sanskrit it was Dhruva, ‘the fixed star,’ in Old Norse ‘the guiding star.’ Today we call it Polaris, ‘the Polestar,’ because it is always visible, always constant, always steadfast.”
These are among the first lines of a new, national training initiative entitled “Polestar: Induction Leadership Training.” Designed to provide a comprehensive overview of the Order of Arrow’s Induction Adventure, Polestar will allow us to reorient ourselves to something that has always been there, while using technologies—new and old alike—to guide us towards that vision.
The OA’s induction teaches Scouts, selected by their own unit for being a role model, the virtues of WWW and how to live them out, animated by the Admonition. Since the induction is the one common thread all Arrowmen share and it is the first thing each candidate experiences in the OA, it is incalculably important to make sure we get it right. That is where Polestar comes in.
Polestar: Induction Leadership Training will walk OA leaders through each step of the Induction Adventure, starting with the unit election and ending with the Brotherhood experience. Polestar will teach participants why it is our nondelegable duty as local leaders to create a quality induction experience for each candidate. It enables lodge leaders with the tools to build excellence in execution of the induction, directly supporting key metrics to success. It codifies standards and best practices in the OA’s induction that serve as a decision-making framework to help lodge leaders ensure their candidates have that quality adventure of the spirit.
Although nearly all of the information presented in Polestar is not “new” in any way, it has been designed in a way to spark curiosity and thought in everyones’ minds, building on prior experience. In this manner, all participants will walk away from a Polestar training with a better understanding and appreciation for the OA’s induction and its significance to the joint purpose of the OA and Scouting.
Participants of Polestar will begin by learning about why the OA and its induction exist at all, as well as the purpose it serves in Scouting today. From there, they will learn about the reasoning that built each stage of the Induction Adventure. During this time, Polestar touches on elements such as:
- the reason for a camping requirement for membership in the OA;
- the symbolic progression and public-facing recognition elements in well-designed call-out ceremonies;
- the use of natural imagery, ceremonial attire, mystery, and poetry as elements of a larger, more-grand experience that establishes and reaffirms our shared values;
- how the Ordeal’s four challenges are designed to benefit the Scout and their unit;
- the role of Nimats in facilitating the growth of Ordeal members’ understanding and commitment to the OA’s principles; and
- how “sealing our membership” refers to an Arrowman’s conscious choice to accept and live the Admonition.
Polestar also details the new “National Induction Benchmarks and Standards” that offer a basis for a successful induction sequence. Together with the ten induction principles, these resources provide a decision-making framework and model to judge current and future local practices against. Just as each unit is uniquely knowledgeable regarding those Scouts who are candidates in the unit election, lodge leaders know local circumstances best and are therefore the group best suited to make decisions regarding local induction practices. These resources support that decision making process. Alongside these standards, Polestar also touches on other methods and resources designed to overcome many of the challenges that hinder a quality candidate experience. More information regarding these resources, standards, and guidelines will be released throughout the coming months.
Polestar is flexible to match the availability of lodges and sections. Currently, delegates from each region are being trained to become Facilitators who will assist lodges and sections in delivering Polestar during lodge or chapter meetings, Lodge Leadership Developments, Section Conclaves, or whenever local leaders are gathered. Arrowmen will soon be able to take Polestar individually via the Inductions Portal.
The OA’s induction is the most determinant factor in the success of the Order of the Arrow, as it is the adventure that fulfills our promise to Scouting. It is increasingly important that we orient ourselves to our north star and ensure that our induction is meaningful to each Scout who comes before us. Polestar will give us the resources to do exactly that. As our ancestors looked to the north for guidance, let us do the same: let us orient ourselves to our Polaris to ensure the success of the Order of the Arrow for years to come.
More information regarding Polestar can be found at oa-bsa.org/polestar.