Thoughts on Brotherhood and Fellowship

by Don Cunningham, 2001 National OA Chief

    When Dr. Goodman founded our great and honored Order, he glimpsed a vision. This vision was his dream of unity and a common bond that drew human beings together under the same purpose. The product of this dream is the reality of the Order of the Arrow today. It is an opportunity to aim for something higher. It gives Scouts and Scouters alike the chance to go beyond the routines of their units to gain special leadership experience and give back to those who elected them. The Order is an endless cycle and its possibilities are infinite. The root of it all lies with the brotherhood and fellowship that bring members together. 

    My fondest memories are not those marked with spectacular facilities or dynamic programs, but rather firelight conversations with fellow brothers, long thoughtful walks to a bluff or creek-side with a group of Arrowmen, and laughing about the challenges of boyhood with younger Scouts. It only takes the outdoors and a group of guys to make an event truly brilliant! It is soon evident that the Arrowmen (not the place) are what make an event memorable. Dr. Goodman knew this and it is for this reason that we began as the National Society of Honor Campers. We were born in the outdoors and will continue to bring our spirit to life there. It is no coincidence that brotherhood is the first of our three principles. Moreover, you will notice that symbolism in our ceremonies makes the most reference to the "bonds of brotherhood" and the fellowship that comes from it. 

    When I began as a thirteen year old Ordeal member, I was frightened to meet new people, initially had trouble discovering where it was that I fit in, and was intimidated by the gathering of so many Scouts from so many different units and walks of life. I always contemplated how and why they came together so many times during the year. Little did I know that each one of them, though very different, shared in the same dream, the same vision as Dr. Goodman had caught so many years ago. It was another six months until I finally found my place and realized that my ticket to grasping this vision was becoming involved. I did just that, and I do not regret a single second of the time I have spent in spirit of brotherhood. 

    Before his untimely death, our founder said in so many words: Hope for the best! Those who knew him recognized a special twinkle in his eyes. His vision of brotherhood, fellowship, and unity among all people was as ablaze in his heart as the fire in the circle. Our work is his legacy. All that we do and say is a reflection of the foundation he built to lead us and lead others.

    Those of you who have glimpsed that flash of light (Dr. Goodman's vision) have an obligation to share it with your brethren. Those of you who have not yet seen it, do not worry. I thought I would never find it, until one day (out of nowhere) it was right in front of me all that time; I just never realized it. It is like many other things in the Order, always present (from the very Ordeal induction), but without the right ability to view it. Strive to view it, my brothers, and make it your dream too. It is a part of all of us, and I assure you, that when you discover it, you will never let it perish, but will hold it forever dear to your heart.

Last revised on