Scoutings Honor Society?

Time to stir the pot again and call out those Scouters that choose to be Patrol leaders, Mommy/Daddy Coddlers, baby sitters, in short.. those that don’t do it right.
Yep.. I’m gonna piss some folks off with this one and to be honest.  If the shoe fits wear it.
I am going to preface all of this by saying in our Troop we have kids with ADD, ADHD, Autism in many spectrums, ADOS, OCD, etc…
The reason I must say that is because we don’t treat any of them different.  They are expected to be Scouts.  They do the work, they learn, they participate, and they don’t have their moms and dads hovering over them.  Nope they have a Troop guide or a Patrol Leader that expects them to be part of the team.
They eat, sleep, play, and work as part of their patrol.  That is the way it is supposed to be.  We don’t let the moms and dads camp with the patrols when they go.  They stay with the adults.  They are not part of the program, they are just there for the fresh air.  And some of them are in the Order of the Arrow.
So this morning I got an email from one of my ASMs.  He is down at the Conclave for our OA Section.  The Order of the Arrow, you know, Scouting’s honor society.  Anyway, his email was simple.. he asked; “The OA is Scouting’s honor society right?”  Those that have demonstrated their ability to be considered an honored camper, one that is dedicated to serve, and a Scout that has been chosen by his peers as someone who represents values found in the Oath and Law.  Right?
Well, I suppose not any more, at least according what he witnessed down at Conclave.  Dad’s hovering over Scouts to make sure they got out of their tents.  Rolling up the sleeping bag for the Scout?  Making sure the Scouts clean up after themselves?  Now th  is is minor stuff I guess, but what I know for sure is that when minor stuff happens, so does major stuff.
Now, I am a Brotherhood member of the OA.  And very proud to say so.  I consider it an honor to have been chosen to be a member.  I also expect other members to act in accordance with the values and attitudes set forth by the Order of the Arrow.
Here is what I think the problem is.  Too many people are just getting in.  There are no secret clubs within the BSA, but if we are going to call the OA Scouting’s Honor Society.. well then lets act like it.  Lets be selective on who gets in.  Why not honored campers or Scouts… it is not for everyone.
I see this at ordeal weekends.  The candidates are supposed to spend a day laboring in silence.  This is not a suggestion, it is asked of the candidate so they can spend time-serving and thinking about a life of service.  I don’t want to give too much away here, you may want to go through the ceremony one day… but I can’t tell you how many times I have asked Scouts and Scouters to remain silent explaining to them the reasons only to get a roll of the eyes and “Whatever dude”.
So how does this get fixed.  The Scoutmaster.
The Scoutmaster sets the ballot for the annual election.  The youth vote on the candidates, but the Scoutmaster sets the ballot for those eligible.
Just because a Scout meets the criteria of being 1st Class, 15 nights of camping with 6 of which are at resident camp does not gain him entry into the Order of the Arrow.  Sorry, but true.
So Scoutmasters hold the key to making sure that honored Scouts get into the Order.  This makes the OA stronger.  At least it will take on the appearance of an Honor Society.
I am glad that kids that make “C’s” are not in the National Honor Society.  I am glad that you must have good grades to get in.  I am glad that not everyone that trys out for the Varsity Football team make it.  I am glad that not every Scout will be an Eagle.  Do I want them all to try, yes.  But I am glad that only 4% will make it.  It makes it special.  Sometimes, less is more.  When there is less there is harder work to get to it.  If it is Scouts goal to be an Eagle Scout he needs to work hard for it.  If he wants to get into the OA, he will demonstrate leadership, service, and living the Scout Oath and Law before he gets elected.  If he wants to be on the varsity Football team, he will hit the weights, run, and practice all summer to get there.  If he wants to be on the honor roll, he will study hard.  He will work for it.  None of it will be given to him.
When I was in the Army, I was promoted to Command Sergeant Major at the age of 36.  I worked real hard, went to all the right Schools, and applied my self.  On any given day in the United States Army there are only 550 Sergeants Major.  I was one of them.  It was an honor to be the Sergeant Major of an Infantry Battalion.  And it was an honor to be counted among the 550 other Sergeants Major that put themselves in that position.
So it is with anything that is deserving of the title “Honor”.  Not everyone gets a participation ribbon in life.  And when we push Scouts through, or allow the nature of organizations to be less for the sake of having more we tear away at the organization.
So when we see mom and dad rolling up sleeping bags or hovering to make sure that Franky First Class gets to meals on time, we have failed.  We have failed the Scout and we have failed the organization.  It is no longer an honor.  It’s just another weekend in a tent.
Ok.. I know you have an opinion, I gave you mine, lets hear it.  Please leave a comment.
Have a Great Scouting Day!


  1. Right on! It’s up to us as Scoutmasters to ensure we are adding the right filter. The Order of the Arrow represents the best of Scouting. A Brotherhood of Cheerful Service. This is the right BSA elite organization. OA needs every Scoutmaster.


  2. I’m right there with you Jerry! Unfortunately a lot of scouting has been watered down and “helicopter” parents don’t make it any better. I too am a Brotherhood member of the OA and very proud of that honor and what it stands for.


  3. In our chapter, when the ordeal starts, the boys are led away into the woods, and anyone not doing the ordeal stays in a base camp with the tents. The candidates move off maybe half a mile away, and really do sleep under the stars. The adults in base camp have to be Ordeal members. The boys roll up their sleeping bags and ground cloths, the only items they may bring, stow them in a shed on the camp property, eat their single granola bar for breakfast, and go to work. So the only helicopter parent anywhere around would have to be an OA member, who is there working to direct the scouts at certain work sites in the area. It sounds like the OA could tighten up the Ordeal a bit. When I did it as an adult, it rained a bit, and the only shelter was the ground cloth (tarp) that we could cover the sleeping bag with. Would a hovering parent do that, participate in the Ordeal, just to roll up little johny’s sleeping bag in the morning?


    1. Allan,
      Our Chapter/Lodge does the ordeal just as you discribed. The event I was talking about was the Conclave of our Section. Parents (that are members of the OA) are welcome… and obviously like to hover.
      Thanks for the comment


      1. Thanks, Jerry. I have not seen this at our conclave. I have only been once. I would think that the scouts themselves would make fun of a kid whose mom tried to do that, and solve the problem himself. Maybe times have changed.


  4. I enjoyed reading your thoughts and agree with your frustration. My sons and I belong to a newly converted boy run Troop (approx 4 years). For my oldest son and I, this is the only kind of Troop we knew. In Indiana we belonged to a well established boy run Troop with excellent parental support from mom and dad. We were only observers watching our boys make mistakes and learning life lessons in the process. My job moved us to a new small town a few states away. There were three Troops in this area which really surprised me for the size of the population (4000 people), but I soon found out why. When we called around, we found that all three Troops were adult led like every other Troop in the neighboring counties and the adults wanted to run their own Kingdoms. Our SM was the driving force for this change. He was taking over the Troop from the retiring SM. the Troop he inherited had no interest in changing, especially the moms. The new SM convinced me that he could change the Troop to be boy led if we would join. I became the Committee Chair and we immediately started working on a Troop manual detailing how the boys would lead and especially their responsibilities. It has been a difficult journey, losing promising scouts because their parents didn’t think they could handle the new responsibilities. The Scouts who stayed have become some of the best young leaders I have ever met. During the past two years we have added 15 new scouts from both Webelos, other adult led Troops and from word of mouth by our Scouts. They are proud that they camp monthly year-round.
    We also take OA eligibility and elections seriously. Only Scouts who meet the spirit of OA are considered. It is not a popularity contest in our Troop, not only because of the leaders but the Scouts are also on board with this. We talk to the Scouts who weren’t elected and ask them what they thought they could improve to be considered next year for OA. Some work hard to get elected and some stay on the sideline. Boy Scouting is a great organization that I am glad to have been part of for the past forty years. I am an Eagle Scout and am proud of my sons; one Eagle and one 1st Class and climbing.
    For the adults in our Troop, campouts are catching up on sleep and watching our sons grow into men. If your Troop is not boy run, I challenge you to make the change. You won’t believe what a difference it makes.


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