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Our History


Our History

In 1915, Camp Director E. Urner Goodman and Assistant Camp Director Carroll A. Edson searched for a way to recognize select campers for their cheerful sprits of service at Treasure Island Scout Camp in the Delaware River.  Goodman and Edson founded the Order of the Arrow when they held the first Ordeal Ceremony on July 16th of that year.  By 1921, as the popularity of the organization spread to other camps, local lodges attended the first national gathering called a Grand Lodge Meeting.

The Order of the Arrow was one of many camp honor societies that existed at local Scout camps across the country.  As the years went on and more camps adopted the Order of the Arrow’s program, it gained prominence and became part of the national Boy Scout program in 1934.  By 1948, the OA, recognized as the BSA's national brotherhood of honor campers, became an official part of the Boy Scouts of America.  Toward the end of the twentieth century, the OA expanded its focus to include conservation, high adventure, and servant-leadership.

Throughout the years, the Order of the Arrow has played an integral role in the program of the Boy Scouts and in the community service its members contribute to their communities.  To date, more than one million people have been members of the Order of the Arrow.

Presently, the Order of the Arrow consists of nearly 300 lodges, which form approximately 48 sections in four regions.  Leadership positions and voting rights are restricted to members under the age of 21.  Through the program, members live up to the ideals of brotherhood, cheerfulness, and service set forth by E. Urner Goodman and Carroll A. Edson.

Welcome from the Chief


Ever since I took the Obligation for the first time, I have been in awe of the legacy of service left by the hundreds of thousands of Arrowmen who came before me. Their commitment to our core values for more than a century lays the cornerstone for everything we do in the present and future.

The Order of the Arrow History Timeline pays tribute to that commitment and serves as a reminder of our obligation to continue faithfully fulfilling our mission and purpose. From Goodman and Edson's time at Treasure Island to the first Order of the Arrow staff at a National Jamboree, generations of Arrowmen have taken it upon themselves to move our organization forward through unwavering servant leadership.

As their legacy falls to us, we each must decide the impact that we will leave. I encourage you to reflect on these stories and leave with a renewed sense of purpose to endeavor to be unselfish in service and devotion to the welfare of others.

Yours in Cheerful Service,
Zach Schonfeld
2020 National Chief
@email | @OANationalChief