OA Fact SheetsOrder of the Arrow Background Information

About Us

For more than 90 years, the Order of the Arrow (OA) has recognized Scouts and Scouters who best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives. This recognition provides encouragement for others to live these ideals as well. Arrowmen are known for maintaining camping traditions and spirit, promoting year-round and long term resident camping, and providing cheerful service to others. OA service, activities, adventures, and training for youth and adults are models of quality leadership development and programming that enrich and help to extend Scouting to America's youth.

History

The Order of the Arrow 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 Boy Scouts of America. In 1998, the Order of the Arrow became recognized as Scouting's National Honor Society when it expanded its reach beyond camping to include broader service to Scouting and the community.

Structure

The Order of the Arrow has three distinct organizational levels; lodges, sections, and regions. Learn more about these areas below.

Leadership

The Order of the Arrow is led by youth leadership (national chief, national vice chief), the national Order of the Arrow chairman, the OA director and the OA specialist. In addition the national Order of the Arrow committee provides direction for the yearly program.

For Arrowmen

Congratulations on your induction into the Order of the Arrow. You have joined a brotherhood with a rich history of providing cheerful service to others. The Order’s first purpose is to recognize those, like yourself, who exemplify the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives. As a member, you are entrusted with fulfilling the other three purposes of the Order: Promoting responsible outdoor adventure, developing leaders, and crystallizing the Scout habit of helpfulness into a life purpose of leadership in cheerful service to others. You are a member of a “lodge,” the group associated with your Boy Scout council. The Order of the Arrow acts through the lodge to express the values it has embodied since its inception in 1915: Brotherhood, cheerfulness, and service. As an organization grounded in outdoor adventure and cheerful service to others, exciting opportunities await your involvement. Explore the website, contact your lodge leadership, and ask how you can get involved.

For Parents

Congratulations on your son’s membership in the Order of the Arrow, or “OA,” the national honor society of the Boy Scouts of America. The Order’s first purpose is to recognize those, like your son, who are chosen by his peers as one who exemplifies the Scout Oath and Law in his daily life. Through that recognition, the Order causes others to conduct themselves in a way that warrants similar recognition. The OA has enjoyed a long history of service. Founded in 1915 by Dr. E. Urner Goodman and Carroll A. Edson, the OA emphasizes servant-leadership in troops, at the council or lodge level, and nationally. Exciting opportunities for service and leadership await your son in whatever manner he chooses to involve himself. Your son now has the opportunity to take part in all Order of the Arrow activities, Order of the Arrow High Adventure, local leadership roles, and opportunities for community service. Have you son contact your local lodge and explore this website for more information on how to get involved.

For Scouters

The Order of the Arrow is Scouting’s national honor society. Its membership fulfills the Order’s purpose of recognizing those who exemplify Scouting’s values, promoting responsible outdoor adventure, developing young leaders, and crystallizing the Scout habit of helpfulness into a life purpose of leadership in cheerful service to others. Established in 1915, the OA emphasizes service to the unit. In this way, Arrowmen give back to their troops with the leadership skills and values of service learned through the Order. The Order’s program complements the troop’s, providing valuable leadership training programs, world-class high adventure opportunities, and exciting national conferences. Members of the Order of the Arrow are chosen through an election process at a troop meeting. To get your unit introduced to the Order of the Arrow, contact your local lodge and arrange for an elections team to visit.

For Community Members

The Order of the Arrow, or “OA,” is a service organization and the national honor society of the Boy Scouts of America. Members are elected from within their units and recognized as those who best live the ideals of brotherhood, cheerfulness, and service. Under the guidance of selected capable adults, OA members under 21 provide leadership to the organization. The OA has enjoyed a long history of service. Founded in 1915 by Dr. E. Urner Goodman and Carroll A. Edson, the OA emphasizes servant-leadership nationwide in nearly 300 Boy Scout councils. In addition to local community service, the OA provides service on a national level, too. In 2008, for example, the Order of the Arrow improved five national parks during an event called “ArrowCorps5.” In 2013, the OA coordinated days of service at the National Scout Jamboree, resulting in significant service to the Mount Hope, West Virginia area.