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.
Each year, Wewanoma Lodge out of South Texas holds a public powwow. The event was started twenty one years ago by Troop 68 from McAllen, Texas as a way for Scouts to get the Indian Lore Merit Badge. Since then, it has grown to become an annual tradition with up to 1,500 people in attendance. Some of the powwow’s events include afternoon demonstrations on topics such as beading, animal skinning and choker necklaces. Scouts still have the opportunity to earn the Indian Lore Merit Badge, and there are special activities for any Cub Scouts in attendance. They end the day with a show hosted by The Texas Connection in the evening. The powwow is volunteer driven, and local troops are asked to run different stations during the event. Usually by mid-November about 1,200 people are expected to sign-up to attend, but this year there were only ten people signed up. The officers reflected on the lodge’s use of advertising and began a complete overhaul. Lodge Chief Gabe R. reflected on their shift. “We looked and we were really only using Facebook and that was not reaching many people.” A list was drawn up of attendees from the previous five years and the new advertisement campaign began. Robo calls were made, paid social media campaigns (with the new addition of Instagram) were released and mass emails were sent out. The change resulted in a huge success, and the powwow is the Rio Grande Council’s most attended and most profitable event. All the profit generated from the powwow goes into the capital campaign for Camp Perry, their local council camp. The capital campaign, which is also funded by regular donations, has recently paid for a new 1.2 million dollar dining hall and improvements on campsites and other areas.
Cheerful service is one of the core values of the Order of the Arrow, and Withlacoochee Lodge was sure to fulfill that purpose with the service it provided to Camp Osborn following two recent natural disasters. In January 2017, during a NYLT staff development weekend, Camp Osborn was hit with an extremely powerful wind storm. Just two weeks later, it was hit again during the Withlacoochee Lodge Banquet, this time by a tornado. Following the disastrous events, Withlacoochee Lodge was ready to serve. The lodge handled and coordinated the basic clean-up, including clearing the roads from debris and sorting the various supplies in the program area around camp, as well as the serving of meals to the Scouts and Scouters who came out to help with the recovery effort. The lodge created the Facebook page ‘Rebuilding Camp Osborn Together’ to document the process. Withlacoochee Lodge Chief Jonathan L. was excited to see Camp Osborn get rebuilt and demonstrate how the lodge’s service could impact his council. After rebuilding, Camp Osborn was hit by Hurricane Matthew in September 2018, but Jonathan says that the Hurricane did not impact Camp Osborn or its structures as much as the other storms. Withlacoochee Lodge embodied the core principle of the OA and stands as a leading example of cheerful service at the council level.
Last year, Pa-Hin Lodge and Naguonabe Lodge completed a joint service project as part of the Section C-1A’s Lodge Partnership Program. For this program, lodges are asked to attend each other’s events to gain a sense of community by getting to know the members of their partner lodge. The lodge leadership also gets the opportunity to see how other lodges run their own events such as induction weekends, reunions, or fellowships. This facilitates the sharing of best practices from across the section which they can implement in their own lodges. The purpose of the program is to form bonds between lodges and help build the lodges so they have a better program for the youth of their lodge and council. Lodges were given free range to do anything as long as they had an end goal in mind. Some lodges decided to coordinate travel to the 2018 NOAC together. The chiefs of Pa-Hin and Naguonabe decided to do a joint service project. They divided up responsibilities such as finding a project location, food planning, creating a task list and building programs for the event. The location of Fergus Falls, MN was chosen due to it being close for both lodges and was in need of service. Both lodges wanted to do more than just a day of service, so the decision was made to create a weekend event with both fellowship and service. The event was held the weekend of October 5-7, 2018 with twenty members in attendance. With temperatures near freezing, participants were bundled up during the cheerful service on Saturday. Arrowmen built flower boxes, added new soil to areas that needed it, harvested plants and cleaned up for the winter. Before the event began, food was collected to be donated to a local food shelter. After all of the work had been completed, participants went to an outdoor movie party, accompanied by a campfire and feast for all of their hard work. “I think this project brought two different lodges with two different skill sets closer together, and I look forward to following up with the friends I made during this event,” 2018 Pa-Hin Lodge Chief Ryan H. stated.
The 2019 editions of the Eagle Scout congratulatory letters are now available from the national chief and vice chief. There is also a new edition available from the national chairman. These recognition letters are a great addition to any Eagle Scout's court of honor. Instructions to download, modify and print the letters are available here.
Since 1999, the National OA Committee has annually selected lodges from each region to receive matching service grants. For 2019, 15 lodges in councils across the nation were chosen to receive a combined total of $34,500 in matching grants via the OA Service Grant program. The following grants were awarded within the Central Region: Illini Lodge of the Prairielands Council, headquartered in Champaign, Illinois, will receive $1,300 for the construction of a multipurpose pavilion for year-round use by Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts at the Rankin Outdoor Adventure Place. Waupecan Lodge of the Rainbow Council, headquartered in Lockport, Illinois, will receive $1,500 to construct a shelter in their first year camper area at Rainbow Scout Reservation. The following grants were awarded within the Northeast Region: Catamount Lodge of the Heart of New England Council, headquartered in Lancaster, Massachusetts, will receive $5,000 for the renovation of the Green Cabin at Camp Wanocksett. Kittan Lodge of the Twin Rivers Council, headquartered in Albany, New York, will receive $2,100 to help develop a new ATV Trek course with a permanent building at Camp Wakpominee. Witauchsoman Lodge of the Minsi Trails Council, headquartered in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, will receive $2,100 to rebuild the Stone Arrow Ceremony Circle at Trexler Scout Reservation. Wunita Gokhos Lodge of the Pennsylvania Dutch Council, headquartered in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, will receive $1,900 to update the swimming and boating docks at Bashore Scout Reservation. The following grants were awarded within the Southern Region: Semialachee Lodge of the Suwannee River Area Council, headquartered in Tallahassee, Florida, will receive $3,500 to repair damage to cabins caused by Hurricane Michael at Wallwood Scout Reservation. Unali’Yi Lodge of the Coastal Carolina Council, headquartered in North Charleston, South Carolina, will receive $2,400 for the renovation of two dining hall bathrooms at Camp Ho Non Wah. Muscogee Lodge of the Indian Waters Council, headquartered in Columbia, South Carolina, will receive $2,400 to convert a dry storage room in Camp Barstow’s dining hall to a female restroom for youth. Talidandaganu Lodge of the Cherokee Area Council, headquartered in Chattanooga, Tennessee, will receive $1,900 to construct an amphitheater and stage at Skymont Scout Reservation. Pellissippi Lodge of the Great Smoky Mountain Council, headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee, will receive $2,300 to create a mobile trail race course at Camp Buck Toms. Wahissa Lodge of the Old Hickory Council, headquartered in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, will receive $1,100 to construct a training shelter at Camp Raven Knob. The following grants were awarded within the Western Region: Sikhs Mox Lamonti Lodge of the Mount Baker Council, headquartered in Everett, Washington, will receive $1,800 to develop an improved tent camping site to support unit and family camping opportunities at Fire Mountain Scout Camp. Toloma Lodge of the Greater Yosemite Council, headquartered in Modesto, California, will receive $2,600 to upgrade the shower facilities at Camp McConnell. Yah-Tah-Hey-Si-Kess Lodge of the Great Southwest Council, headquartered in Albuquerque, New Mexico, will receive $2,600 to construct areas for their ATV and Cowboy Action Firearms programs at Gorham Scout Ranch.
Meet the newly elected officers of the Order of the Arrow! Matt Parsons — National Chief “2019 will be a turning point for our organization. The things that we accomplish this year will leave an impact on not only how effective our program is today, but how successful we are in the future.” Hailing from Millsboro, Delaware, Matt is a Vigil Honor member from Nentego Lodge. He is a former Section NE-6A chief and served as the conference vice chief at the 2018 NOAC. Wanting to design residential homes, Matt studies architectural engineering at Delaware Technical Community College. Matt is a Sea Scout and enjoys sailing in his free time. Congratulations, Matt! Eric Harrison — National Vice Chief “We have a special opportunity to impact Arrowmen nationwide in 2019. I’m looking forward to taking part in this special time for our Order!” Eric is a Vigil Honor member from Taylorville, Illinois. After serving as the Illinek lodge chief for two terms, Eric served as section vice chief and section chief for Section C-3B. He has earned the rank of Eagle Scout, as well as the Founder’s Award and James E. West Award. Eric intends to major in marketing at the University of Illinois - Champaign. In his free time, he enjoys playing soccer and spending time with friends and family. Congratulations, Eric! Brandon Stahl — Central Region Chief “Extremely excited for the work we have planned in 2019 and looking forward to focusing on offering support to all our lodges in the coming year. Hoping to visit as many lodge events as possible around our region and nation.” Hailing from Mishawaka, Indiana, Brandon is a Vigil Honor member from Sakima Lodge of the LaSalle Council. He has attended NOAC, Train the Training, National Leadership Seminar (NLS) and NEXT. Brandon is expecting to major in political science, and wants to work as a foreign service office for the US State Department. He enjoys hiking and camping, and has the unique the opportunity to serve as lodge chief, section chief and region chief all in the same year. Congratulations, Brandon! Sid Salazar — Southern Region Chief “This coming year is one filled with incredible potential and opportunity. I am ecstatic to be welcoming our first youth females into the Order, and developing more youth leaders across the country. I am extremely excited to be serving as this year’s Southern Region Chief and the many opportunities to impact the youth of our Order that accompany. This year is a year of reflection and working on the roots of the Order, and I can’t wait to see what new and innovative things we come up to continue to progress the Order of the Arrow.” Sid hails from Franklin, Tennessee and is a Vigil Honor member of Wa-Hi-Nasa Lodge of the Middle Tennessee Council. He is a recipient of the Founder’s Award, James E. West Award, and is a OA Legacy Fellow. Sid is a business administration major at Georgia Tech and plans to attend law school after graduation. He enjoys playing basketball and is a brother in Theta Xi Fraternity. Congratulations, Sid! Ethan Mooney — Northeast Region Chief Ethan is from Zelienople, Pennsylvania and is a Vigil Honor member of Kuskitannee Lodge of Moraine Trails Council. He has attended the 2013 and 2017 jamborees as well as the 2015 and 2018 NOACs. Ethan attends Slippery Rock University as a cybersecurity/computer science major. He plans to serve as a technology security expert or assist in government operations. Congratulations, Ethan! Antonyo Mitchell -- Western Region Chief “I am super excited to host an NLS in my home section at the same place I took my own. I am excited to travel, meet and discuss best practices from chapter and lodge chiefs across the country.” Antonyo is a Vigil Honor member from Everett, Washington. He joined Scouting in September in 2007, and joined the OA in September 2014. Antonyo has served as two-term section chief for Section W-1N. Studying molecular and cellular biology at the University of Washington, Antonyo wants to become a pediatrics oncologist. In his free time, Antonyo enjoys photography and playing video games. He studied Japanese for four years in high school, and one day wants to travel to Japan. Congratulations, Antonyo!
Philmont and the Order of the Arrow are excited to offer OA PhilBreak 2019. This event will consist of a full week preparing Philmont for the 2019 camping season. Following the fires of 2018, Philmont needs our help to accommodate campers once again. Actual work will include slope stabilization projects, such as log erosion barrier and wattle installation, as well as re-vegetation, campsite installation, and forest thinning. By March 2019, the Philmont Conservation Department will have the exact details and locations ready to go. Please note these projects are heavily dependent on the weather and road conditions. Though there is no guarantee that fire restoration will be the main project, there are many service opportunities available to help Philmont prepare for the summer. Only 50 slots will be open for each session, filled in the order that registrations are received. Visit registration.oa-bsa.org to register today! There are three sessions available: March 16-23, March 23-30, and March 30-April 6. The cost is only $100; note, this does not include travel arrangements. The registration deadline is February 15th, 2019. Please see the Registration and Cancellation Policies at the end of this article. Lodging for the entire week will be indoor dormitory type housing at the Philmont Training Center (PTC). Participants will be transported to the worksite every day. Breakfast and dinner will be at the PTC dining hall with trail lunches provided at the worksite. Participants are required to be registered with the BSA and a member of the Order of the Arrow. This program is available to Order of the Arrow members 16 years old and above. The minimum age is 16 years by date of participation. The full Philmont medical form with your doctor’s approval is required. Please note, just because your doctor certifies you, it does not mean this program is for you. This OA PhilBreak program will require hard work, long hours, good crew spirit and a sense of humor. This program is not leisurely; it is of similar or greater difficulty than a normal Philmont Trek, and participants should be able to carry a 50 lb pack. Participants should be comfortable digging, dragging debris, and moving heavy loads. The Order of the Arrow reserves the right to return the entire registration fee of any person who would be inappropriate for this program. A recommended packing list will be posted when it becomes available. Currently, the tentative schedule is as follows: Saturday, Day 1 Arrive at Philmont during the day. You must arrive by 5 PM Mountain Time. No late arrivals will be allowed. If you cannot arrive by 5 PM, then you should plan on arriving on the Friday before your start date and stay in Cimarron, Taos, Raton, etc. The first provided meal will be dinner in the PTC Dining Hall. In the evening, the Philmont Conservation Department will begin the program with introductions and specific plans, gear info, advice and general Q&A. Sunday, Day 2 Medical recheck, finalize plans and eventual transport to the fire area / worksite to begin work. Approximately one-half day’s work. Breakfast and dinner at the PTC. Trail lunch in the field. Monday, Day 3 through Friday, Day 7 Daily transport to the fire area / worksite (shorter work-day on Friday). Breakfast and dinner at the PTC. Trail lunch in the field. Friday evening, Day 7 Recognition dinner and final gathering. Saturday, Day 8 Depart Philmont after breakfast. Below you can find some of the frequently asked questions (FAQ): Are we camping? No. We will spend all nights at the PTC and stay in roofed housing. You will share rooms with other Phil-breakers. We will be transported daily to the worksite. Do we need a pack? Yes – a good-sized day pack or small weekend pack. Every day you will be driven to the worksite, but you’ll need to carry a trail lunch, lots of water (4-6 liters), rain gear, extra warm clothing (think layers), camera, etc. Will it be cold? Probably. This is the backcountry in early March at 8,000 – 9,000 feet. Plan on layers for your clothing. Where will we be working? In the backcountry burn area. It’s too early right now for the conservation team to pinpoint exactly where we’ll be working. Are there multiple OA PhilBreak sessions? There are 3 OA PhilBreak sessions this year. Can a spouse or other family member hang out at the PTC while I work every day? No. Can I arrive later in the week and still participate? No. What happens if 30 people register before me? We will put you on a wait list. Cancellations are inevitable. What about shuttle transportation? Shuttles available from Raton, NM $20 round trip. Shuttle available from Albuquerque Airport $100 round trip. Must arrive by noon on the first day and depart after 1 pm on the last day. For further questions, contact Ben Harper at Benjamin.Harper@scouting.org or Matt Dukeman at Matt.Dukeman@scouting.org or (972) 580-2455.
The Northeast Region Town Hall was a online event held on September 19th, 2018 that Arrowmen could attend to learn about high performing lodges. The town hall featured a prepared presentation led by the region leadership that shared best practices with Arrowmen to take back to their lodges, and provided Arrowmen with the ability to ask questions directly to the region chief. During the call, sixty-five Arrowmen attended from throughout the region. This included lodge key 3 leadership, section chiefs, region leadership and other Arrowmen from the region. Overall, the town hall focused on highlighting best practices within lodges throughout the region along with high performing lodges and what classifies a lodge as high performing. This went along with a prepared presentation created by the region leadership followed by a Q&A session. Any Arrowmen from the Northeast Region who currently have or are looking for leadership roles in their lodge or section are encouraged to attend future town halls. 2019’s final town hall covered unit elections, and was held in December. Updates about future town halls can be found on the region website at northeast.oa-bsa.org.
Earlier this year, the National Order of the Arrow Committee approved a change to the OA’s membership policy, permitting unit elections in Scouts BSA, Venturing, and Sea Scout units. These changes will take effect on February 1, 2019. Over the next few months, lodge and unit leadership will likely be approached about these new changes. In order to secure a smooth transition into this new era, it is imperative that any information shared be accurate. Above all else, this is in the interest of ensuring that all of the BSA’s members are able to take advantage of all of the opportunities available to them. The membership information page on the national website is an excellent resource to both refresh your memory and share with others who have any questions about these changes. Make sure to pay close attention to the “Requirements” and “News and Updates” sections. You can access the membership information page by clicking “Membership Info” on the home page or at oa-bsa.org/about/membership.
Unit elections can be the first interaction a unit or Scout may have with their local lodge, so they are an important facet of becoming a High Performing Lodge. Immediate past SR-7A Section Chief and 2018 National Chief Anthony Peluso suggested that lodges in the section compete on their ability to host and facilitate a unit election. In 2018, at Section SR-7A’s Conclave, section leadership assembled a committee that would tackle this new lodge competition event. All lodges would be asked to compete in the event, and to add some incentive, the competition was added to the scoring system for the section’s annual ‘Lodge of the Year’ award. The evaluations are judged by a panel composed of youth and adults, who will make suggestions the unit election teams based on their strengths and weaknesses. The section leadership were very satisfied with the program’s success. “It was great to see that a majority of the audience were new Arrowmen who were eager to learn more about the unit election process, how they could help in the process and have the chance to better grasp the idea of why the unit election plays such an important role on the path to membership.” They are also encouraging other sections to bring this to their conclaves this coming year. “Your lodges will have the chance to learn from one another and bring an excellent experience to a unit as well as an excellent first interaction with a unit member’s first encounter with the OA.”
Before NASA’s Apollo missions, the Gemini Project helped prepare for the big mission, a trip to the moon. In a way, this is what Section C-7 is doing for their eleven lodges. In an interview with Joey S., the Section C-7 Vice Chief, we explored what the Gemini Project is and how it can be beneficial for a section and its lodges. The Gemini Project, formerly known as the Sister Lodge Program, is an opportunity for lodges in Section C-7 to pair up to share best practices in order to strengthen weaker parts of their programs. According to Joey, “The lodges choose what other lodge they want to pair with, the section just encourages and motivates all lodges to participate.” Last year only 3 lodges participated, which showed the section that more in-person meetings with all lodge chiefs is needed. As of now, every lodge is planning to participate and announce who they will be pairing with at their winter council of chiefs meeting. When it came down to what the weaknesses in the program were, Joey said that it all boiled down to lodge chief participation. This year the section officers talked to all the lodge chiefs and explained how this can help improve their lodge and why it’s so beneficial to them if they participate. All the lodge chiefs came together for an in-person meeting, which allowed them to create relationships and get to know each other, making it easier for them to work together as a team and not strangers. Joey said, “the program not only creates friendships between lodges, but also encourages a friendly rivalry to improve JTE results and participation within the lodges.” Section C-7’s Gemini Project is preparing each lodge for their big mission of making big changes to impact their program. Why should your chapter, lodge or section follow Section C-7 and create a program like this? To Joey, the value of coming together to work on the program has the potential to create a major impact on the lodges.