In Scouts BSA, there are a variety of programs that draw people’s interest. Each program varies in its activities and structure but offers various opportunities for its members. For example, the Order of the Arrow inspires Arrowmen through renowned trainings such as the National Leadership Seminar (NLS) to further their understanding of service, leadership, and fellowship. Additionally, Arrowmen can take on officer roles to explore and demonstrate these principles, which will provide life-long benefits.
Nowadays, more people, particularly young adults who have just graduated high school, are attending college at a higher rate than previous generations. College is typically seen as the height of one’s academic career - the moment when students discover their purpose in the world and develop life-long connections. In addition, students take on responsibilities and become involved with new activities. Luckily, Scouting activities do not have to end in college.
Indeed, some Arrowmen have chosen to participate in service-based fraternities in college. The Order of the Arrow and the Boy Scouts of America are not affiliated with these groups, but many Arrowmen have found these collegiate environments to remind them of the values and experiences they found in Scouting. Elliott Morton from George Washington University in Washington D.C. built on his Scouting career in the Theta Chi Chapter of Alpha Phi Omega (APO).
Interestingly, a group of Eagle Scouts founded the APO fraternity, which required its members to have achieved the rank of Eagle. Though the fraternity dropped this requirement in 1950, Elliott said, “there are still expected to be a lot of Scouts in the fraternity.” According to the APO website, “Alpha Phi Omega is a national, co-educational service fraternity – college students gathered together in an organization based on fraternalism and founded on the principles of the Boy Scouts of America.” APO’s members demonstrate the OA’s principles of service, fellowship, and leadership through acts of service with the community and campus. For example, Elliott said APO “works with local health clinics, churches, schools, and more.”
Like in the OA, brotherhood is a is a crucial aspect of APO. As Elliott said he has “found a lot of like-minded people in APO.” The fraternity cultivates the idea of brotherhood by inviting all students willing to serve people in a cheerful, collaborative manner. However, service is more than just a central principle in APO: it is a requirement for its members. Members must give twenty service hours to their fraternity, campus, community, and the nation. The hours vary by chapter throughout the country.
Although the requirements may seem rigorous, it is all fun and easy for any Arrowman. Elianna Perlman, another Arrowman from the Kappa Mu Chapter of APO at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, demonstrates leadership experience on the fellowship and service committee. On the fellowship committee, she helps plan brotherhood fellowship and formal fellowship, events designed for members to bond with each other. On the service committee, she connects with the fraternity’s community partners to develop service events, such as gardening services at the Baltimore Green Spaces. Elianna stated, “It is my favorite service activity to do, and I like that they’re really involved with the community!” Similarly, Elliott uses his leadership experience to plan retreats and service events, such as traveling the city and actively participating in campus events.
While Elliott and Elianna serve their fraternities in areas concentrated by urban developments, Michael Colletti, an Arrowman from Epsilon Tau Pi (ETP) at the University of Science and Technology in Rolla, MO, has a chance to work in areas surrounded by rural land. For example, trail-building and trail maintenance are distinctive service activities that the members engage with local parks. But the most unique contrast ETP holds, compared to APO and other fraternities, is that it is the only fraternity in the nation that requires its members to be Eagle Scouts. This presents events similar to Scouting and OA’s activities, such as campouts and hiking trips. ETP commits itself to this Scouting lineage on its website, labeling itself as “an honorary Eagle Scout Fraternity established to form a brotherhood of Eagle Scouts upholding the ideals of Scouting and the rank of Eagle Scout.”
Due to this overlap, ETP and APO specifically draw in Scouts and Arrowmen who have served on camp staff or in lodge leadership positions. Many incoming members have also attended various Scouting events, such as OA High Adventure.
Michael said, “We have a lot of previous scouts, such as those who worked at the Beaumont reservation in the St. Louis Council, so we like to talk about our experiences and collect a group of like-minded individuals.”
However, the difference in ETP’s culture and requirements does not change the common goal both fraternities share: service. Although APO does not require its members to be Scouts, it still draws individuals with similar personalities and exemplifies the OA’s principles. For example, fraternity officers, such as the vice president of leadership development and the pledge educator, represent the fraternity’s principles on a larger scale. Similar to how OA officers are elected, a candidate designs their campaign and presents a speech to the fraternity, followed by a standard democratic voting process. Ellianna stated, “Members of the fraternity can support through positive notes and candy grams.” This is a positive and comforting way to cheer candidates on and support them.
Once the officers are elected, they must lead, educate, and represent the principles of the fraternity for a year. Each role contributes differently to this expectation. For example, the vice president of leadership development works on networking events, whereas the pledge educator connects with incoming members on pledging. Regardless of one’s position in a fraternity, one must meet the principles of service, fellowship, and leadership. Arrowmen like Elliott, Elianna, and Michael have demonstrated these standards, furthering their skills and complimenting their OA career.
Elliott described APO as “a place to stay connected with service and fellowship. It embraces diversity, who you are, and very few fraternities are focused on bringing people this close together.”
The fraternity embraces the principles of the OA in Arrowmen and fosters them in those who are not. Elianna said, “APO has been one of the best things I’ve done in college. Doing service, talking to people, and meeting people has been meaningful and valuable to my education.”
Additionally, Michael claimed, “The fraternity helps remind people about Scouts, what Scouting entails, and why it’s meaningful. The brotherhood aspect is evident because people are here to help and want to do it. I want to continue in the Scouting program, and the fraternity helps me do it.”
Essentially, these fraternities may provide a place for Arrowmen to find brotherhood and leadership while in college.
Indeed, APO and ETP strive to bring the best out of people through service and brotherhood. They advance the core principles of OA and stand out as service organizations for their history, diversity, and values.
Although it may seem that the doors of one’s Scouting career close upon becoming an adult or achieving a certain rank, it is the beginning of a new phase in life. The values of the Scout Oath and Law, strengthened by leadership and service in the OA, extend beyond Scouting and play a crucial role in one’s academic and professional life.
Fraternities such as APO and ETP are rooted in the principles learned in Scouting programs and further real-world skills, such as networking, in their members. Take it from Elliott, Elianna, and Michael, whose fraternities have expanded upon their skills learned in Scouts and the OA.