What is the Ordeal?
Perhaps you are a scout who has heard older scouts talking about the Order of the Arrow. Or perhaps you are a parent of a scout who will soon be participating in the “Ordeal”. Either way, this article discusses what the Ordeal is all about.
The Order of the Arrow is simply a service organization dedicated to four purposes:
1) Recognition of scouts and scouters who best exemplify the scout oath and law.
2) Development of camping traditions and spirit.
3) To promote the camping program.
4) To develop habits of helpfulness and leadership in scouts.
Membership in the order of the arrow consists of three levels: Ordeal, Brotherhood and Vigil.
In order to be a candidate for the Ordeal, scouts and scouters must be elected by the members of their troop (youth vote for youth, and adults vote for adults). The Order of the Arrow is very unique in that it is one of very few organizations where its membership is selected by both its members and non-members as well.
Once scouts are selected as ordeal candidates, they must seal their membership by taking part in an event known as “the Ordeal”. This event starts on a Friday night and continues until Saturday evening.
Part of what makes the Order of the Arrow such an exciting organization to be a part of is its special ceremonies. We don’t keep “secrets” in the OA, however part of the excitement of taking your ordeal comes from the surprise of all of the events that take place. Its a wonderful feeling to be a part of something brand new and to know that your fellow scouts have selected you to be a part of that. We ask that you be considerate of your fellow scouts by not sharing with them the events of your ordeal. That way, their own experiences will not be diminished.
Scouts, of course, are encouraged to discuss their experiences with their parents. Likewise, any parents with concerns about the Ordeal are encouraged to contact the Council Service Center before or after the ordeal so that they can discuss their concerns with a professional scouter.
Often, members of the Order of the Arrow might make up stories about what happens during the ordeal to frighten young scouts or to make the experience sound more magnificent. As a division of the Boy Scouts of America, the Order of the Arrow follows all youth protection guidelines including anti-hazing rules. The Ordeal is a program that is administered using standardized guidelines that were developed on a national level with the approval of all major religious organizations
That is not to say that taking the ordeal is easy. The ordeal is designed to challenge scouts and scouters, mentally. Will you work hard to make the camp as good as possible, or will you do the least amount possible? Will you deny yourself and put others ahead of your own desires? Will you show your true honor by keeping promises that you have made? These are all questions you will need to answer to yourself during the ordeal.