As a member of the Order of the Arrow, there is a lot to look forward to during this upcoming year. The spring will kick off with OA PhilBreak 2019, an exciting opportunity designed to provide meaningful service to Philmont in March following the forest fires of 2017. June will bring the second-ever OA Hackathon, where Arrowmen will explore the changing landscape of technology, and how it can apply to the Order of the Arrow. This year will also host a year-long initiative: Focus 2019. Three task forces made up of section chiefs will work together to improve inductions, elections and activation. A national live stream event will be hosted in October to present the research and findings of this initiative. 2019 National Chief Matt Parsons told us why he is excited for what is coming up this year and why you should be too.
OA Philbreak 2019, similar to ArrowCorps Puerto Rico at Camp Guajataka and SeaBreak at the Florida Sea Base, will take place during academic spring breaks. Arrowmen from all over the country will travel to Philmont and assist in the recovery and preparation for the ranch’s 2019 season.
“It’ll be a great opportunity for Arrowmen to go and give back to Philmont which was severely ravaged by the forest fires out there last summer so that they’re repaired and ready to go for this upcoming summer,” Parsons said.
Three week-long sessions in late March and early April will be offered, each with a low attendance fee of $100. Arrowmen will be expected to provide their own transportation to the Philmont Training Center, where they will stay each night. Starting on Monday, they will drive out to work sites each day for service projects to help Philmont prepare for the 2019 summer session. Sign up today at registration.oa-bsa.org!
The OA Hackathon is making a return in 2019. The first OA Hackathon was held in October 2017 in Folsom, CA, where attendees learned how they can take advantage of the innovative world of tech to benefit their lodges. To build on its success, the 2019 OA Hackathon will be held this June 26-30 at the University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign campus. All Arrowmen can attend, regardless of experience level.
“Arrowmen will be able to go down and not only learn [about] technology; but, also be able to implement technology as the Order of the Arrow moves into this new age of technology in order to better take advantage of all of the new opportunities that will come along with it” said Parsons.
This event’s focus will be problem-solving. In one of the most exciting activities, attendees will be given a challenge and twenty-four hours to find an innovative solution to conquer it. After the event, attendees will be able to take their newfound knowledge of technology and bring it home to implement it for their lodge. Registration is now open at registration.oa-bsa.org!
Update 05-07-2019: The 2019 OA Hackathon has been cancelled.
This year also brings Focus 2019, which is a trio of task forces lead by section chiefs focusing on elections, inductions and activation. Over the next year, they will work towards their goal to increase membership and the quality of experience for all Arrowmen.
“In activation we’re trying to reinvent the wheel when it comes to conclaves so that we can leverage them into being able to show off the idea of a high performing lodge while also trying to standardize them so that all Arrowmen can get the best parts out of NOAC, that many Arrowmen don’t get to see, closer to home without having to attend the conference,” Parsons said.
“To present our research and findings and to provide direction we will be holding our first-ever nationwide webinar,” Parsons shared. This webinar will be held on October 19th, 2019. “We ask each lodge to save the date, and plan to gather their leadership teams to view the webinar and partake in opportunities to collaborate and plan for the future.”
Above all though, what Parsons is most looking forward to is the new opportunities that will be available to Sea Scout Ships and Venture Crews. Parsons himself is a Sea Scout and recently stepped down as Northeast Region boatswain’s mate to better fulfill his new role as national chief. Much like countless other Arrowmen across the country, he is excited to see a new class of deserving Sea Scouts and Venturers he has served with eligible to be elected to join the Order of the Arrow.