The purpose of the Order of the Arrow is fourfold:
- To recognize those who best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives and through that recognition cause others to conduct themselves in a way that warrants similar recognition.
- To promote camping, responsible outdoor adventure, and environmental stewardship as essential components of every Scout's experiene, in the unit, year-round, and in summer camp.
- To develop leaders with the willingness, character, spirit and ability to advance the activities of their units, our Brotherhood, Scouting and ultimately our nation.
- To crystallize the Scout habit of helpfulness into a life purpose of leadership in cheerful service to others.
The Order of the Arrow (OA) was founded by Dr. E. Urner Goodman and Carroll A. Edson in 1915 at the Treasure Island Camp of the Philadelphia Council, Boy Scouts of America. It became an official program experiment in 1922 and was approved as part of the Scouting program in 1934. In 1948 the OA, recognized as the BSA's national brotherhood of honor campers, became an official part of the national camping program of the Boy Scouts of America.
The OA has more than 170,000 members located in lodges affiliated with approximately 295 BSA local councils.
To become a member, a youth must be a registered member of a Boy Scout troop or Varsity Scout team and hold First Class rank. The youth must have experienced fifteen days and nights of camping during the two-year period prior to his election. The fifteen days and nights must include six consecutive days (including five nights) of resident camping, approved and under the auspices and standards of the Boy Scouts of America. The balance of the camping must be overnight, weekend, or other short-term camps. Scouts are elected to the Order by their fellow unit members, following approval by the Scoutmaster or Varsity team Coach.
The induction ceremony, called the Ordeal, is conducted at Scout camp and is the first step toward full membership. During the experience, candidates maintain complete silence, receive small amounts of food, work on camp improvement projects, and are required to sleep alone, apart from other campers, which teaches significant values.
After ten months of service and fulfilling certain requirements, a member may take part in the Brotherhood ceremony, which places further emphasis on the ideals of Scouting and the Order. Completion of this ceremony signifies full membership in the OA.
After two years of service as a Brotherhood member, and with the approval of the national Order of the Arrow Committee, a Scout may be recognized with the Vigil Honor for outstanding service to Scouting, his lodge, and the community. This honor is bestowed by special selection and is limited to one person for every fifty members registered with the lodge each year.
Each Order of the Arrow lodge is granted a charter from the National Council, BSA, upon annual application by the local council. The OA lodge helps the local council provide a quality Scouting program through recognition of Scouting spirit and performance, youth leadership development, service and enhanced membership tenure. The Greater New York Councils is home to Kintecoying Lodge #4.
An Order of the Arrow section consists of lodges within a geographic area of the region. Once every year, representatives of lodges in the section come together for a conclave to share in fellowship, skills, and training. All of the elected section chiefs form the conference committee for a national Order of the Arrow event, which is held under the guidance of the national Order of the Arrow Committee.
The region chief is the youth leader of the region elected by the section chiefs for a term of office specified by the national Order of the Arrow Committee, which coincides with the term of national chief and vice-chief. This election is held in conjunction with called meetings of the section chiefs to elect the national chief and vice-chief, as well as to plan a national Order of the Arrow event.
The region Order of the Arrow chairman is an adult appointed by the region director. The professional adviser for the region is a staff member assigned to the position by the region director.
National Chief and Vice-Chief
These are Arrowmen selected by the section chiefs who form the national Order of the Arrow conference committee. They serve as members of the national Order of the Arrow Committee, providing the opinion of youth on national OA policy. They also serve as the presiding officers for the national OA event. Their term of office is specified by the national committee. They are advised in their responsibilities by the national committee chairman and national team leader of the Order of the Arrow.
National OA Committee Chairman
This individual is appointed by the chairman of the national Boy Scout Committee. The professional adviser is the national team leader of the Order of the Arrow, a member of the national Boy Scout Division staff.