Scouting's National Honor Society
The purpose of the Order of the Arrow is fourfold:
- To recognize those Scout campers who best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives
- To develop and maintain camping traditions and spirit
- To promote Scout camping
- 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 176,000 members located in lodges affiliated with approximately 327 BSA local councils.
Each local Boy Scout council is encouraged to have an Order of the Arrow lodge. Each lodge is granted a charter from the National Council, BSA, upon annual application. The OA lodge helps the local council provide a quality Scouting program through recognition of Scouting spirit and performance, development of youth leadership and service, promotion of Scout camping and outdoor programs, and enhancement of membership tenure.
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 regional 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 regional Order of the Arrow chairman is an adult appointed by the regional director. The professional adviser for the region is a staff member assigned to the position by the region director.
The national chief and vice chief 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, representing the 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 director of the Order of the Arrow.
The national OA committee chairman is appointed by the chairman of the national Boy Scout Committee. The professional adviser is the director of the Order of the Arrow, a member of the national Boy Scout Division staff.