Order of the Arrow

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!

Categories: blog, Camping, comments, Leadership, Oath and Law, Order of the Arrow, Service, Skills, Values | 8 Comments


NOS means “Not otherwise specified” in Military lingo.  It essentially means that we can’t find a category for it.. and so it is with this post.
It has been a while since I posted last, so here is some catching up and thoughts.
I’ll start with the drama.  Last week I volunteered as a ‘Guest Instructor’ for the JROTC class at our High School.  I learned a lot while teaching the 6 classes a day about accountability, military customs and courtesies, and shared life lessons that will (if listened to) help these young men and women.  What I learned about JROTC was that it has very little to do with the military.  Rather, the National syllabus for instruction focuses on Character, Citizenship, Leadership, and fitness… now where I have I seen that before?
Now I understand that there is an Army component to the class.  They structure the class around an Army Battalion, wear uniforms once a week, and use Army language, but beyond that the curriculum is very generic in its content regarding character, citizenship and leadership.  This was a surprise to me not really knowing what to think about JROTC and knowing how the ROTC at the University level works.
I was also surprised to see that very little attention is payed to recruiting or pushing a career in the military to these Cadets.  It was rarely talked about.  Now, of course there were graduating Seniors that are currently making plans for a career in the military, but the JROTC program is not a pool for recruiting. 
I enjoyed teaching the class for the week and had the pleasure of meeting some outstanding students.  I also met my share of students that frankly I fear will not make it in life.  They are lazy, unmotivated, can’t seem to develop study habits, and generally could care less about their school, community, home, or one another.  This shocked me.  All of my kids currently attend this high school and for the last 4 years we have had a very positive experience.  Our daughter has been active with the Marching Band, Symphonic and Concert bands, and has made great friends at the High School.  Both of our sons have been athletes and members of various school clubs and also have made lasting friendships.  All three of the kids have maintained good if not excellent grades over their high school careers and so our view of the school has been shaped by the athletes, friends, and social activities that my wife and I have been fortunate to participate in and get to know.  Our house is always full of kids, mostly football players, and I have gotten to know them and their families and I can honestly say that they are good kids.  So to be at the School and see the apathy that I saw this week, well, it shocked me.
NOW, having said all of that, the School District is in a world of mess right now, the teachers are minutes away from going on strike, the School District Board is not budging and neither is the teachers union.  It has become very ugly in our little neck of the woods.  The climate at the School is very apathetic and so I can see where some of the students have got it.
I hope this resolves quickly.. from the Scoutmaster perspective.  Most of my older Scouts attend this School and it is effecting them.  This close to the end of School, with the impending strike, the students have been forced to scramble to get things done in order to maintain decent GPA’s to round out the year.  The uncertainty has left them questioning the dedication of both the teachers and the school district to their education.
Enough of that… I just hope it gets over quickly.
How this affects Scouting however is clear.  When things are weird in Scouts lives.. it gets weird in their Scouting life.  I had about half the Troop missing from this weekends Camporee.  All high school age students, and students that needed to get much need assignments completed to increase their final GPA.  They called me up and we talked about what was more important.  The least I could do for them is support them. 
Now Camporee… 28 went to Camporee this weekend, a good portion were the younger (First year) Scouts.  They did fantastic!  They proved that they are mastering Scout craft and basic skills.  They were motivated and showed the district that our Troop was there to compete.  We didn’t win the District Camporee Top Troop award, but each patrol came home with ribbons for winning Scout craft events.  They did not win the best camp site, it seems we were missing Patrol boxes and a trailer.  To that, the SPL suggested that we would never win.. and it’s ok.. we are backpackers and if they don’t like our style.. so be it.  I was proud of him and his attitude.
This morning as we packed up and loaded the truck with our packs I overheard a Scoutmaster from a neighboring Troop yell at his Troop this; “Look at them.. while you are struggling with your boxes.. they are playing frisbee!”
We could not help but high five each other.. the Scout leadership had done an exceptional job this morning and ultimately got the Troop and hour and half ahead of schedule.  They ate breakfast, cleaned up and packed in an hour and half.  Made it to the camp wide flag ceremony and awards and departed about an hour before the rest of the district had their camps taken down.  Our boys pride themselves in this style of camping.  One day the district will come around and have a backpacking score sheet for the camp inspection.
On the way home one of the Scouts said to me that when he first started in the Troop, he thought I talked just to hear my voice… but as he grew in the Troop he realized that I was really saying something.  After 4 years of being passed over for election in the Order of the Arrow, he was finally called out Saturday night.  Finally, he is learning to lead, take responsibility, and his peers felt him to be worthy of membership in Scouting’s honor society.  He thanked me for teaching him.  My response was simple.  You are welcome, now… continue to earn the right to be there.
I think this principle can be applied everywhere in our lives.
Well.. it’s going to be an interesting week here.  I hope yours is great!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, Character, Citizenship, Competition, gear, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Order of the Arrow, Patrol Method, respect, Skills, teamwork | Leave a comment

SMMPodcast # 103 – Talking with Bob

In this show I have a lengthy chat with a fellow Scoutmaster and great Friend Bob Pierce.    Join us as we talk a little bit about everything.  Jamboree, Dutch oven cooking, Troop Guides, JLT, Anuual planning, Parents and Philmont just to cover some of the bases.  It’s what happens Scoutmasters get together and shoot the breeze.  The show was recorded on location at the Annual rendezvous of the Order of the Arrow at Camp Meriwether, so the crashing of waves and other camp sounds fill the background of this nice talk with my buddy Bob.
Hope you enjoy the show.
Please leave some feedback, drop us an email, or leave a comment in the comments section.  Thanks for listening.
Have a Great Scouting Day! 

Direct Download

Categories: camp skills, Character, Cooking, gear, High Adventure, Jamboree, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Order of the Arrow, Patrol Method, planning, podcast, stories, training, Webelos to Scout Transition | 2 Comments

Still Proud and not afraid to talk about it!

Yet another Ordeal Weekend has come and gone. No matter how many times I go, no matter how much I work with the Scouts of our Order of the Arrow Chapter, no matter what, they [the Scouts of the Order of the Arrow]… STILL make me proud.

A note to Scoutmasters… If you do not have active members of the OA in your Troop, you are missing out on the opportunities for both your Scouts, and your Troop, to see leadership and dedicated service in action.

As well as the ceremonies of the Ordeal Weekend, the Scouts work hard to prepare the Scout camps for the summer camp season. This weekend, due to extreme weather at Camp Pioneer, the Scouts of the Cascade Pacific Councils Wuana La’Montay Lodge moved to Butte Creek Scout Ranch. It was the first time in 10 years the OA had conducted an Ordeal weekend at the camp, and the timing could not have been better. Butte Creek is a Cub Scout (Webelos) camp with horse riding opportunities, BB Guns, Archery and the whole camp experience. The Scouts remain in camp for a 4 day, 3 night experience that is designed to prepare them for the leap to Boy Scouting.
Butte Creek does not get a lot of attention by the OA, due to the Cub Scout nature of the Camp and a robust staff of Wranglers that work the ranch on a regular basis.
This year due to the harsh and prolonged winter, the camp took a beating. Tent platforms were a wreck, weeds and brush had over grown, and general camp maintenance was the order of the day.
The Order of Arrow was there to meet the need. Cheerfully the OA went into action. A list that filled a 10X8 white board of tasks to be completed and repairs needed showed the Scouts that much work was to be done.
One by one the items on the list were crossed off, until the remainder of the list read.. “OPEN CAMP FOR SCOUTS…THANKS OA!”

The Scouts had rose to the occasion and got it done.
Pride.. yep that makes you feel great.. not just me, but the Scouts that accomplished the work.

And then there’s the Ceremonies…
Our Chapter..the Great Thunderbird Chapter, held Pre Ordeal, Ordeal, and Brotherhood Ceremonies. We certified a hand full of Scouts in their parts and provided some memorable ceremonies for the new candidates .. Arrowmen.
The site was perfect, the lodge went up and the site constructed by the scouts. Practices started and fine tuned parts lead to some of the best ceremonies I have seen.

An added bonus…

Josh, my youngest son and Arrowmen of 2 weeks, got his first shot at ceremonies. The older guys got him in some regalia, and he stood guard over the coveted sashes of the Ordeal. A bit part, but he got to dress and feel like part of the team. This is a great way to get them and keep the Scouts active and involved in the Chapter, the OA, and Scouting.

I can never say it enough.. these Scouts make me so proud to be a part of Scouting.
They give me such hope for everything that is great about our program and reassures me that Scouting is relevant, fun, and produces great results in the Scouts and camps we serve.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Order of the Arrow | 1 Comment

The Test of Cheerful Service

We are well into “Ordeal Season”. Lodges all over America are conducting Ordeal weekends for new Arrowmen and those that are converting their membership to Brotherhood.
In this process we test (Ordeal) those that have been chosen by their peers as worthy of membership in Scoutings Society of Honored Campers.
During the ordeal the candidates are asked to deprive themselves of certain things they take for granted for. In doing this they set aside comfort and selfishness for the good of others.
This teaches the candidate that there are things in this world that are more important than selfish needs and comfort. It also demonstrates that a Cheerful spirit can accomplish anything when the heart and mind are willing.
Cheerfully the candidates work to better Scout camps. They work hard and in the end see the results of their labor. It is especially nice to go back to a camp that they worked and see the look of pride on their faces as they explain that they were the ones that made it better.
Not to be boastful, but pride in doing a job that benefited the whole Scout camp.
This test of Cheerful Service is then asked to be brought back to their Troops so that they can serve those that had chosen them. This sometimes can be the hardest task, but again, with a Cheerful spirit and a willing heart and mind, this too can become a reality.

Welcome to all the new Arrowmen. Continue to seek the Arrow within you.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Order of the Arrow, Service | Leave a comment


Today before we left another great Order of the Arrow ordeal there was a Scouts Own Service.
During that service, a Scout that led the Scouts Own service talked about unity.
He read a short story about George Washington at Valley Forge. He spoke about a near riot that occurred between the soldiers of the Continental Army. They were frustrated at the long winter and the lack of “Victories” against the Army of the King.
The point of the story was that George Washington quelled the riot by getting in the mix and physically separating individuals. Then once the fight has stopped he spoke to his men explaining that we [the Army] could not, and would never achieve victory if they remained divided in purpose. They would have to gain a unity of purpose. They would have to stand together and move in one direction. They had to have unity in their purpose to start the nation. A house divided will certainly fall… and so you must by unified.

And so it is within the Boy Scouts of America. We must be united in our purpose. United in our values and ideals. Our Scouts should be united in the Law and Oath. They must understand our promise to help other people at all times. They need to be united in our duty to God and Country.
Our Patrols stand united in moving the patrol in a direction of success. The Patrol, united by a common set of values and ideals, a clear purpose, and boy led direction can achieve anything they set out to accomplish.

Unity. We must have it to succeed in Scouting.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Oath and Law, Order of the Arrow, Scout Law | Leave a comment

Picture of the Week

Members of Order of the Arrow from Troop 664 performing at the 2008 Crossover Ceremony

Categories: Order of the Arrow | Leave a comment

They never cease to impress me

If you ever loose faith in what a young man can do, or get discouraged watching the evening news, or read in the paper that our youngsters are not making the grade. Then I encourage you to look at your Scouts… In particular your members of the Scouting Honor Society, the Order of the Arrow.

I have posted these sentiments before, but they truly never cease to impress me.
This past weekend our Lodge held it’s largest event of the year, the Rendezvous of the Order. The event is 100% youth driven. And I must say that the Scouts that put this years on did a great job. The youth leadership really put together a first class event. Well organized and executed. The Lodge holds its elections during the event also. Again, I was impressed with the way in which they conducted themselves as they elected a new Lodge Chief and Vice Chiefs.

I was happy to hear the accomplishments of the youth that were tapped out for the Vigil Honor after the Banquet. To hear the Scouting resumes of these young men was impressive. A true demonstration of the Spirit of Scouting that lives within each of them. It gives us great hope to see such fine young men.

And then again, tonight as the Scouts from my Troop held a practice for an upcoming Arrow of Light and Crossover ceremony. I watched as each of them transformed into their part. I watched as they practiced giving the gift of Scouting to new boys that will join our ranks. I can see that they take it seriously and that they want to do well. This is a far cry from the nightly news and the daily paper.

I am proud of these young men, both the Scouts from my Troop and those fine Arrowmen that put on one heck of a Rendezvous weekend. I look forward to our next event knowing that with the boys in charge and running it, it will be a great time and an experience that leaves us all proud.

Happy Scouting!

Categories: Order of the Arrow | Leave a comment

Music, Video games, and Scouting!?

This weekend our OA Chapter held a “Pow Wow”. Essentially it was a way to kick off 2008 with a fun and relaxing get away weekend. A hand full of adults and a nice size group of Arrowmen met at Scouters Mountain and had a party.
Friday was a fellowship gathering, cracker barrel and a generally relaxed night.
Saturday, the group worked on regalia and the ceremony teams did a little practicing, but by and large it was just a bunch of fun. Saturday night after dinner we had a special demonstration of the Native American Flute, all the guys got a shot at it and learned how neat it was and how it can enhance ceremonies. Then the ceremony team competed in a ceremonies contest. They made up ceremonies or presented cross over/Arrow of light ceremonies.. it was pretty cool.
Then it was game time.

Xbox’s were set up and projected on the wall via computer projectors, other game systems were in this corner and that corner, the music was turned up, the light went out and hours of gaming and electronic activity began.

Now I personally do not have a problem with this, I suppose it falls into the “Time and place” category. What I found interesting however was the choices of music and games the young men play.
At one point, the small group of adults sitting in the room collectively asked the boys.. “Why don’t you play your own music?” Everything they played was from our High School day and earlier. And that was a while ago. I guess I should applaud them for their collective taste in music and thankful they turn away from other modern musical styles, but come on… it’s ours and we want it back.

The games, well, I am not sure what to say about that. I am a fan of the “Shooter game”, as long as it is not that graphic. I really like the sports games and find the Madden Football outstanding, sure beats “Pong” or “Asteroids”. I am not a believer that video games cause a kid to flip out and become ax murder participants. Besides, these are Scouts and a firmly believe in what our program is offering them. A night of video games will not hurt.

I guess the point is, sometimes the Scouts need a break from the norm. Taking the Honor Society up to the Camp and letting them have a good time will do good things.
This morning as we cleaned up and parted ways, the boys were tired, but happy. They had made new friends, hung out with buddies, learned some new things, but mostly had fun.

We have a real active Chapter of the OA. 2007, these guys worked their tails off and made it more active, more directed at Service, and more fun. Ending 2007, 31 of the Arrowmen earned the Leadership in Service Award, that is the most in the Lodge, and a handful of them are from our Troop. 2008 promises to be even better.

It was nice to go to a youth party and have the ability to sing along…


Happy Scouting!

Categories: Just fun, Order of the Arrow | Leave a comment

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