An Arrowman's Primary Duty
by Riley Berg, 2002 National OA Vice Chief
Regardless of who we are, where we're from,
and when we became members, each of us inducted as youth have
something in common: we are members of the Order of the Arrow
because our peers in our units selected us for the honor.
But why is it that we were chosen? The
question actually goes much deeper, all the way back to the
origins of the Order. When Dr. Goodman set out to create this
organization, his thinking didn't just revolve around the boy.
It was focused on the individual unit as well.
He is quoted as saying: "Let it be
remembered that the Order of the Arrow was created to help the
unit - to help it present its membership a better ideal of the
inner qualities of the good Scout camper. Qualities of
character, like cheerfulness and service, are hard for a boy or
a man to understand in the abstract. They come easier when seen
in human life. Let us realize the significance of the Order in
the unit - for the unit is our best hope in Scouting."
The home of an Arrowmen has always been his
unit, and so it should continue to be. The Scouts in our
troops chose us for membership because they saw in us the
qualities of a servant leader. Their hope was to recognize us
for what we'd done, but most importantly for what we have yet
As a Scout becomes more involved in the
Order of the Arrow, finding the balance between troop and OA
events can grow more difficult. Not too long ago, I remember
having to decide between a troop camp out and a retreat my
lodge was putting on. I chose the campout, and had a great
time hiking in Sequoia National Park with the new Scouts in my
troop, most who had never seen the area before.
The truth is, I don't always choose my
troop outing. Sometimes I will make a commitment to provide
service at an OA function that falls on a weekend the troop is
going on a trip. Likewise, in the summer of
2000, I went to NOAC instead of on my troop's 50-mile hike.
The key is to find a balance.
So often it seems that a good Arrowman is
defined by his activity in the OA. Yet, when you think about
our primary duty - the unit - this isn't always true. I know
Scouts in my own troop that make few OA meetings, and even
fewer events. I see these same Arrowmen teaching eleven
year-old Scouts how to fold a flag, or to tie a taut-line
hitch. These same young men serving as Senior Patrol Leader,
or at the front of the group when hiking through Yosemite.
They may not be an active member of the Lodge Executive
Committee, or the best Nutiket the ceremonies team has ever
seen, but they're serving the youth back in the troop.
Besides our reason for being inducted,
we all have another thing in common. Each of us has been
endowed with the lessons of the Ordeal. We were told that
"he who serves his fellows, is of all his fellows
greatest". I'd ask that we all ponder those words, and
ask ourselves what context Goodman might have put them, and how
that might apply to our lives.
Riley Berg is a member of Troop 35
in Fresno, CA. The troop meets every Tuesday night, and that's
usually where you will find Riley.