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Our History

OA Official Part of BSA

The Order of the Arrow is Formally Taken into National Council of the Boy Scouts of America - Camping Program

It was announced at the 1948 NOAC that the Order of the Arrow would be fully incorporated into the Boy Scouts of America. In a process that had started in 1921 with the first national organization, the Order of the Arrow had finally realized its most ambitious and desired goal. This announcement was met with some acrimony from Arrowmen concerned about the BSA taking over the Order. While the national OA leadership had been fully dedicated for over 15 years to achieving this goal, many Arrowmen took pride in the autonomy of the Order.

It had happened incrementally. In 1922 WWW was labeled an Official BSA experiment. Starting in 1932 the OA was thoroughly investigated by the BSA and made a Scout program in 1934, effective January 1, 1935. Once an official program the Order grew rapidly. The OA grew from 43 active lodges at the end of 1934 to 362 active lodges in 1948. The OA had become a true national organization operating in every region of the country.

The OA did have to make some changes to gain full integration into the BSA program. Because of religious objections that had existed for decades regarding the ceremonies everything had to be reviewed and often re-written. Another issue was some members of the OA while elected as Scouts had allowed their BSA registration to lapse. As a BSA run only active members of the Scouts could be active Arrowmen. The OA also had to change some terminology.

There was also an agreement regarding youth leadership. As in Scout troops, leadership positions in lodges and eventually areas and regions would be changes to youth leadership with adult advisers. That however did not affect the national leadership that negotiated with the BSA. The OA would form the National OA Committee and would have their jobs made dramatically easier with BSA supervision. For example, supply problems had beleaguered the OA since the beginning. With the fantastic growth of the Order, it made supplying the local lodges incredibly difficult for volunteer Arrowmen (although many were Scout professionals, this was something they did as volunteers.) Under the BSA, National Supply would take over service to the local lodges. A professional would be provided to the Order to handle the clerical and administrative duties allowing the National OA Committee to focus on other matters such as policy and developing area meetings throughout the Order.