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The national Order of the Arrow chairman answers your questions on a regular basis. You may contact the chairman, Mike Hoffman, at @email.

Ask the Chairman - Reconnecting with Scouting and the OA

<p dir="ltr">Q: Hi Mike,</p> <p dir="ltr">I'm volunteering with my son's troop in Champaign, IL. Is there a way a former lodge member (Monaken Lodge 103, inducted 1979) can order a flap from a lodge? The only thing my folks saved when they cleaned out the house was my sash, Eagle pin, and Scout progress record book, which turned out to have my lodge membership card stapled in it. I'd prefer wearing a flap from the lodge where I was inducted. Odd question, I know!</p> <p dir="ltr">Best,</p> <p dir="ltr">Hal</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">A: Hal,</p> <p dir="ltr">Thank you for your question, and thank you for getting back involved with your son. It means a lot to the Order, as well as to your son.</p> <p dir="ltr">The policy on lodge membership appears on page 48 of the 2015 edition of the Order of the Arrow Handbook. &nbsp;For your reading I am including it here:</p> <blockquote> <p dir="ltr">“Members of the Order of the Arrow may be official dues-paying (and in the case of youth, voting) members of only one lodge, that being the lodge chartered to the council where they have their primary Scouting registration. Members may only wear the lodge pocket flap of the lodge where their dues are paid. Therefore, the lodge pocket flap must match the council shoulder patch of the council to which the lodge belongs.”</p> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr">As you state, your primary registration is with Prairielands Council in Champaign, IL. Therefore, if you wear a lodge flap, it has to be the flap of Illini Lodge that provides service to that council. &nbsp;Our Order is all about service to Scouting and the community in which we live. Many of us have nostalgic memories of the good times we had in the lodge of our youth, but our obligation belongs to the area in which we live, and we need to set that example for those who are always observing us. Like you I was inducted as a youth in a different lodge, Awase Lodge in Wisconsin, and have very fond memories. Today I live in Phoenix and am very proud to wear their flap! Again, my thanks for your involvement and the example you set.</p> <p dir="ltr">I hope this helps! Thanks for doing what you do!</p> <p dir="ltr">Best,</p> <p dir="ltr">Mike &nbsp;</p>

Jan 24, 2018   Ask the Chairman
Ask the Chairman - Video Materials

<p dir="ltr">Q: Mike,</p> <p dir="ltr">I am the chapter adviser for a district in the Sam Houston Area Council in Texas. At next week’s roundtable I am to present some information on and about the Order of the Arrow. Is there a video presentation that I can use to give more information to our local leaders and help promote the Order in our district?</p> <p dir="ltr">-J.R.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">A: J.R.,</p> <p dir="ltr">Here are some resources:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr"> <p dir="ltr"><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4Kb4R3sqDo">A Message to Parents</a>: this video does a good job at explaining the benefits and opportunities in the OA.</p> </li> <li dir="ltr"> <p dir="ltr"><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btuKycMeZp8">2013 National Chief Matt Brown's Scouting Story</a>: this is a very long video that is good to show clips of.</p> </li> <li dir="ltr"> <p dir="ltr"><a href="https://oa-bsa.org/resources/ucl-support/lodge-program-resource-videos">Lodge Program Resources</a>: this page may or may not be helpful. The first two videos may help depending on what you are planning on presenting.</p> </li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">You might check with your lodge leadership who may have some additional resources as well.</p> <p dir="ltr">I hope this helps! Thanks for doing what you do!</p> <p dir="ltr">Best,</p> <p dir="ltr">Mike &nbsp;</p>

Jan 24, 2018   Ask the Chairman
Ask the Chairman - Brotherhood Never Awarded

<p dir="ltr">Q: Mike,</p> <p dir="ltr">I feel I met the Brotherhood requirements as a youth, but was never "advanced" to Brotherhood. Is there some way I can receive that advancement as an adult? I have served for 5 years as the COR for my unit, then after passing the baton, I have served as an assistant district commissioner (still serving in that capacity). Thanks.</p> <p dir="ltr">-Dan</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">A: Dan,</p> <p dir="ltr">Thank you for your question, and for your continued service to Scouting. Brotherhood membership in our Order is not an award or honor. It is simply a matter of completing your induction by sealing your membership. I would like you to read pages 55 and 56-61 of the 2015 edition of the Order of the Arrow Handbook. This will help you understand what it all means, as well as the process. The specific challenges are listed on page 57. Becoming a Brotherhood member is a decision that you- and you alone- make. When you are ready, contact your local lodge and tell them you would like to seal your membership. As you will discover in your reading of your handbook, it does challenge you to become more involved in the work of the Order. I am sure your lodge will welcome you as their newest Brotherhood member.</p> <p dir="ltr">I hope this helps! Thanks for doing what you do!</p> <p dir="ltr">Best,</p> <p dir="ltr">Mike &nbsp;</p>

Jan 24, 2018   Ask the Chairman
Ask the Chairman - OA Sashes

<p dir="ltr">Q: Hello Mike,</p> <p dir="ltr">We recently discovered an interesting thread regarding beaded OA sashes. A group of us have interest in presenting a beaded sash as a gift to a district Scouter who has been in Scouting since 1941. This year would mark his 75th year. <a href="https://oa-bsa.org/article/ask-chairman-beaded-sashes">Here is the thread</a>. While we agree with the general principle of the answer Ray provided, we do have something that we’d like to mention. Ours is neither a large or financially fortunate troop. We do everything we can to make Scouting easier for all of the families. To discourage a beaded sash mainly on the principle of equality is kind of a double standard. There are tons of items that a Scout/Scouter can display and wear that speak of a trip to Jamboree, or even NOAC. Living in California, a trip to Jambo runs anywhere from $5,000 and up. Doesn’t this create the very “have and have not” situation you were trying to avoid? Our Scouts have all experienced tremendous personal growth through their inductions into the Order, and we highly encourage them to participate as much as they can. Other troops in our district see the OA as a “distraction” from troop functions. Wouldn’t it be better to encourage any participation that brings satisfaction and pride to an Arrowman, especially if he is willing to invest the time and effort to produce something special? Perhaps even deeming it commemorative rather than a part of uniform?</p> <p dir="ltr">Thank you for you time,</p> <p dir="ltr">Troop 2379, Canyon Country</p> <p><br /> &nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">A: Arrowmen of Troop 2379:</p> <p dir="ltr">I think the policy as stated in the thread you referenced is absolutely the way the National O Committee interprets the wearing of sashes. The official language at the bottom of the sashes topic on page 64 of the 2015 printing of the Order of the Arrow Handbook states:</p> <blockquote> <p dir="ltr">“Sashes may not be altered in any way or form. Beading or any other material is not permitted on the sash. Nothing is to be worn on the sash, including signatures, patches of any kind, pins, or legends. The only exceptions are the 50th, 60th, and 100th anniversary awards. All of these patches may be worn by those who have earned them. The 100th anniversary award will be sewn one-half inch above the upper Brotherhood bar. The 50th or 60th anniversary award will be sewn one-half inch below the lower Brotherhood bar. If both the 50th and 60th anniversary awards have been earned, the 60th anniversary award is sewn one-half inch below the 50th anniversary award.”</p> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr">Based on this language, the bottom line answer is that beaded sashes that are to be worn are not officially acceptable. What I will tell you is that my lodge made several beaded items for me over the last 20 years. These include a beaded necklace that indicated my years as National Vice Chief, and the front of a sash that was done in beads recognizing my Vigil Honor name and placed it in a frame for presentation. With your skills it sounds like you might be able to make a fancy non-sash type item for presentation. I would encourage you to make the item and deem it a collectable not to be worn! Be creative; you have talent that you can use to make something the person you are trying to honor will cherish. If you do decided to go in this direction, please send me a picture!</p> <p dir="ltr">I hope this helps! Thanks for doing what you do!</p> <p dir="ltr">Best,</p> <p dir="ltr">Mike &nbsp;</p>

Jan 24, 2018   Ask the Chairman
Ask the Chairman - Membership Records

<p dir="ltr">Q: Hello Brother Mike!</p> <p dir="ltr">In my position as a chapter adviser I was recently approached by a Scoutmaster to ask if there was a way for him to help his troop reinvigorate their OA program. Great news, but it came with a puzzle. The Scoutmaster in question joined our Order as a youth in a different lodge, but when he contacted his youth lodge, they had no record of his membership. Does the national office have a record of candidates?</p> <p dir="ltr">-Todd</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">A: Todd,</p> <p>Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, the Order used to only maintain manual records in each council. It has only been since 2006 that the National Order of the Arrow Committee has provided any kind of automation to help lodges maintain their membership records, and it has taken a decade for all lodges to adopt OA LodgeMaster as their standard membership management system. Even with this tool, each lodge's records are independent of all other lodges, so there is no single national database of all OA members. &nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">Perhaps the Scoutmaster in question has some old OA membership cards or kept his personal record in his OA handbook that could help him to reconstruct his Ordeal and/or Brotherhood dates. If he was selected for the Vigil Honor the national office would have that date. The best you can offer him for his initial dates is to help him approximate the time of the year, or to determine someone who was inducted with him. I'm sorry I can't be of greater help here. We have a ways to go but we are working on it.</p> <p dir="ltr">Thanks for doing what you do!</p> <p dir="ltr">Best,</p> <p dir="ltr">Mike &nbsp;</p>

Jan 24, 2018   Ask the Chairman
Ask the Chairman - Adviser Patch

<p dir="ltr">Q: Hi Mike,</p> <p dir="ltr">I am the manager of a Scout shop for the Supply Group located in Ohio. One of my customers has asked me to find out how to obtain an OA associate section adviser patch. He has served in this position previously and needs a copy for his personal display. Any information you could provide would be appreciated. Thanks.</p> <p dir="ltr">-Malcolm</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">A: Malcolm,</p> <p dir="ltr">The Order of the Arrow team at the BSA’s national office can assist you in acquiring the patches you need. Section adviser and associate section adviser patches are not stocked by the Supply Group, nor do we intend to stock them with the Supply Group in the future. You can contact Debbie Dyson at <a href="mailto:debbie.dyson@scouting.org">debbie.dyson@scouting.org</a> for assistance. &nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">I hope this helps! Thanks for doing what you do!</p> <p dir="ltr">Best,</p> <p dir="ltr">Mike &nbsp;</p>

Jan 24, 2018   Ask the Chairman
Ask the Chairman - Ordeal Guests/Parents

<p dir="ltr">Q: Hello Mike,</p> <p dir="ltr">I was wondering if there is any specific policy regarding having non-member guests and parents attend an Ordeal banquet. In the past, we have been allowing guests to come to our Ordeal banquet, which is held right after the Ordeal ceremony on Saturday night. This is when we also do our new member orientation. We figured that it would be best if parents could attend the orientation so they could get information about the Order of the Arrow. However, we have been receiving guests who are not parents and who are non-members. This has presented some problems as sometimes we have difficulty preventing some non-members from attending the Ordeal ceremony, and we had to tailor our orientation so it does not reveal any safeguarded material.</p> <p dir="ltr">Is there any policy or recommendation regarding whether guests are allowed at the Ordeal banquet after the Ordeal ceremony, and whether they are allowed to attend the new member orientation? Thank you for your help.</p> <p dir="ltr">In WWW,</p> <p dir="ltr">Elliott</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">A: Elliott,</p> <p dir="ltr">The simple answer is that there is no prohibitive policy on such guests. Many lodges encourage the attendance of parents and Scout leaders at the banquet/orientation. I think it is a great strategy to get parents and other responsible parties really engaged and understanding the importance of membership in the Order. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">What the National OA Committee has been clear about is who should attend the actual ceremony. My suggestion is that you police that attendance carefully. I pulled out a couple statements from the 2015 printing of the Order of the Arrow Handbook that you might reference. Page 34 of the 2015 edition states:</p> <blockquote> <p dir="ltr">“Youth and adult candidates for membership into the Order of the Arrow are introduced to the Order’s concepts of servant leadership through a safeguarded ceremonial induction. Non-members should not attend the ceremonies. &nbsp;&nbsp;The Order of the Arrow recognizes and respects the right of any &nbsp;parent, Scout leader, or religious leader to be interested in the content of the ceremony. The lodge adviser, or his designee, may discuss the content of the ceremony and any other issues brought to his attention by one of these interested and responsible adults, with the understanding that the adult will maintain the confidentiality of the ceremony.” &nbsp;</p> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr">It also states:</p> <blockquote> <p dir="ltr">“If after discussing the ceremony with the lodge adviser, the parent, Scout leader, or religious leader continues to have questions about the content of the ceremony, that person will be permitted to read the ceremony text. Following this, parents will be in a position to decide whether to allow their son to participate in the ceremony. Candidates may not become members of the Order of the Arrow without completing the pre-Ordeal and Ordeal ceremonies.”</p> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr">In the end, the scout executive has the ability to permit exceptions to this guideline. In that case, the scout executive should be made aware of the steps taken to help the parent understand the induction process and then allow or disallow the request to view the ceremony, articulating that there is to be quiet observation only, without camera, video, or voice recording.</p> <p dir="ltr">Finally, on the role of mystery in the Ordeal process, Page 47 states: “Arrowmen maintain an air of mystery about the Order and its ceremonies because of the attractive role mystery plays. To maintain mystery, the Order restricts the pre-Ordeal and Ordeal ceremonies to candidates and members. Other ceremonies of the Order are conducted the same way.”</p> <p dir="ltr">It is strongly encouraged, in order to keep the evening focused on the candidate, that non-members not attend any of our ceremonies.&nbsp; I see nothing wrong with non-members attending the post-Ordeal banquet. Sure, you may need to tailor what you say in the new member orientation, but having parents sharing in the joy and recognition of their loved one has many benefits when membership renewal time comes. You might even turn it into a public recognition of joining the organization. &nbsp;Don’t forget this is also the time to plant the seed of sealing their membership with the Brotherhood.</p> <p dir="ltr">I hope this helps! Thanks for doing what you do!</p> <p dir="ltr">Best,</p> <p dir="ltr">Mike &nbsp;</p>

Jan 24, 2018   Ask the Chairman
Ask the Chairman - Rule of Order

<p dir="ltr">Q: Mike,</p> <p dir="ltr">Thank you for taking my question. My lodge has a different opinion than the national guidelines regarding the wearing of the sash and paying dues. I had researched the question which was answered clearly in the references here (<a href="https://oa-bsa.org/article/ask-chairman-order-arrow-sash">sash</a>/<a href="https://oa-bsa.org/article/ask-chairman-can-members-who-are-not-dues-paid-wear-lodge-flap">dues</a>). When speaking to our local adviser he said he disagreed with the national guidelines, and that the lodge will follow its own views. How can this situation be addressed?</p> <p dir="ltr">Thank you,</p> <p dir="ltr">Concerned for the rule of order</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">A: Concerned,</p> <p dir="ltr">Thank you for your question. Your lodge adviser was appointed by your council’s Scout Executive to keep the leadership of the lodge in the hands of our young men; additionally, he was also appointed to fulfill the mission and purposes of the Order of the Arrow while enforcing and adhering to the rules and policies of the Order and the BSA. The rules and policies of the Order of the Arrow are issued nationally, not locally. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">I have found in many instances over the years that the Scout executive may be able to add valuable insight into what the thinking is with regard to a specific situation. I would suggest that you have a conversation with your Scout executive about your concerns so that he might decide how best to address the adviser’s understanding of the full extent of his responsibilities.</p> <p dir="ltr">I hope this helps! Thanks for doing what you do!</p> <p dir="ltr">Best,</p> <p dir="ltr">Mike &nbsp;</p>

Jan 24, 2018   Ask the Chairman
Ask the Chairman - Ordeals at Other Locations Besides Scout Camps

<p dir="ltr">Q: Hello Mike,</p> <p dir="ltr">I was wondering if Ordeals can only be held at Scout camps, or if they can be held at other locations such as a service center? My understanding is that it must be held at a Scout camp from what I read from the guides, as well as considering the logistics involved. Thanks.</p> <p dir="ltr">In WWW,</p> <p dir="ltr">Elliott</p> <p><br /> &nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">A: Elliott,</p> <p dir="ltr">If your Scout executive or lodge adviser stipulate that your Ordeals will be held at a particular venue (camp or otherwise), that’s where they will be held. Remember, the Scout executive is the Supreme Chief of the Fire and it is from him that your and the lodge adviser’s appointments flow. Ordeals, Brotherhood inductions -- and, for that matter, Vigils -- do not have to be held at a Scout camp. Lodges all over the country hold inductions at various venues that fit their needs based on time of the year and other considerations. However, the final answer still goes back to what your Scout executive and/or lodge adviser have decided is best for your lodge. Thank you for your question!</p> <p dir="ltr">I hope this helps! Thanks for doing what you do!</p> <p dir="ltr">Best,</p> <p dir="ltr">Mike &nbsp;</p>

Jan 24, 2018   Ask the Chairman
Ask the Chairman - Vigil Selection Committee

<p dir="ltr">Dear Mr. Chairman</p> <p dir="ltr">My name is Joseph. My lodge is currently deciding its next Vigil Honor selection chairman. However, an issue arose when one name was brought up. This Scout wants to be the chairman and he is already a Vigil Honor, but he also has a relative that is eligible for the Vigil Honor. Our lodge has no written rule against it, but some of the advisers are arguing that there is an unwritten policy against it. The Guide for Officers and Advisers states that any Scout may be on the committee so long as they are not eligible for the Vigil Honor themselves. Can this young man be the chairman, even if he has a relative eligible, especially since nothing states otherwise and the chairman does not receive a vote unless there is a tie? Would it solve the issue to have an odd number of committee members so a tie never arises and the chairman never has to decide the fate of a relative?</p> <p dir="ltr">YIB,</p> <p dir="ltr">Joseph</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">A: Joseph,</p> <p dir="ltr">You are correct in your understanding and citation of our literature; there is no written or unwritten policy against him serving. He can certainly serve as chairman of the committee if properly appointed or elected (this is different in every lodge, and you did not specify how this works in your lodge). If his relative is considered, I see nothing wrong with him participating in the “open discussion,” but I would suggest that the group establish some ground rules (even before any discussion happens). Then, if the situation of a conflict of interest (ex., the relative is up for consideration) arises, the rules that everyone agrees to will dictate how to handle it. Perhaps you could ask him to leave the room for the vote; therefore, he would not participate in the selection decision itself.</p> <p dir="ltr">I will tell you many Lodges have these processes very well defined in writing, and follow them very closely, so that there are never any conflicts or perceptions of conflict of interest. It sounds like your lodge may not have the process in writing, but check with your lodge adviser or your lodge Vigil Honor committee adviser to see if you have written rules of process (even if they have to be amended for situations like this). If you do not, I can connect you with some lodges that might help. &nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">I hope this helps! Thanks for doing what you do!</p> <p dir="ltr">Best,</p> <p dir="ltr">Mike &nbsp;</p>

Jan 24, 2018   Ask the Chairman
Ask the Chairman - NOAC Centennial Promotion Patch on Uniform

<p dir="ltr">Q: Mike,</p> <p dir="ltr">I and many others in my lodge who attended NOAC 2015 sewed the promotional patch on our uniforms above the right pocket. Most of us still have it sewn on our uniforms. There are some in our lodge and council who are saying this is incorrect and that we should remove the patch.</p> <p dir="ltr">I have looked online and have found three different answers. The patch was issued with a one time permission to wear above the right pocket:</p> <p dir="ltr">1) "on a PERMANENT basis by that wearer"</p> <p dir="ltr">2) "only through 2015"</p> <p dir="ltr">3) no time frame given</p> <p dir="ltr">My question is this: can attendees of NOAC 2015 continue to wear the centennial NOAC promotional patch above the right pocket rather than a national Scout jamboree patch?</p> <p dir="ltr">Yours in Brotherhood,</p> <p dir="ltr">Ed</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">A: Ed,</p> <p dir="ltr">Thanks for the email. The official answer is no, that you may no longer wear it. Here was the official position from the BSA Insignia folks when the National Order of the Arrow Committee issued the patch. The committee’s position has not changed.</p> <blockquote> <p dir="ltr">NOAC PROMOTION PATCH: A specially designed NOAC 2015 promotion patch will be mailed to contingent leaders after their participant reservation deposits are received in the national office. Participants are encouraged to wear the patch to help promote the conference. (The BSA has granted the OA one-time permission to wear the promotion patch where the national Scout jamboree patch is worn on the Scout uniform through 2015.) The patch is to be removed at the end of 2015.</p> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr">I hope this helps! Thanks for doing what you do!</p> <p dir="ltr">Best,</p> <p dir="ltr">Mike &nbsp;</p>

Jan 24, 2018   Ask the Chairman
Ask the Chairman - Lodgemaster Update

<p dir="ltr">Q: Mike,</p> <p dir="ltr">Is there a way to get the troop details that will be used to compute the Lodgemaster JTE unit count? A specific issue we have with Lodgemaster is that we have multiple units with the same number (i.e. 8-Troop 1's, 5-Troop 2's, Troop 5's, in the same district, etc.,) that Lodgemaster does not allow a community to identify the differences. Using national numbers would require a lookup table to use, and our council registrar said ScoutNet does not have any report that can be printed correlating the national unit number to the unit/community.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Lodgemaster development team has been aware of this for several years but has indicated it only affects several lodges. This may be true, but our initial load of data into Lodgemaster put all members with the same unit number into the same unit so none of the Lodgemaster reports can be used. The Lodgemaster team also mentioned they have run into this when councils merge and new district lines incorporate units with same unit numbers.</p> <p dir="ltr">Anything you can recommend would be appreciated.</p> <p dir="ltr">-Bob</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">A: Hi Bob,</p> <p dir="ltr">The number being used is a count of units from ScoutNet, all eligible troops and teams setup in ScoutNet – since they are all separate in that system, even same numbers in districts, the count should be accurate. We aren’t attempting to correlate that number with units set up in Lodgemaster, we are just using the unit count for the JTE metrics.</p> <p dir="ltr">If you see any discrepancy in the actual number, which is loaded now and visible in the JTE wizard on the 2016 statistics page, the JTE team can help and if need unlock the field so a different number can be entered.</p> <p dir="ltr">I hope this helps! Thanks for doing what you do!</p> <p dir="ltr">Best,</p> <p dir="ltr">Mike &nbsp;</p>

Jan 24, 2018   Ask the Chairman