Feeling a little lost on what the requirements for becoming a Brotherhood member in the Order of the Arrow mean? Read on, and hopefully all of your questions will be answered.
Here are the basic requirements. Each one is explained more fully below.
When you feel that you have completed all of these requirements to your satisfaction, you will need to register for and attend one of the Brotherhood opportunities listed here or in the Lodge calendar.
Memorize the Obligation, the Handclasp, the sign of the Ordeal, the Admonition, and the Song.
The Obligation can be found in your OA Handbook on page 10, and is also printed on the back of your membership card (handy if you need help reciting it at meetings). The Obligation is a little long and many people have trouble memorizing it, but this is mainly because they try to do it all at once. The best way to learn the Obligation is to look at it again and again over a long period of time. Try reading it through once or twice each night right before bed. After a week, see how far you can get without reading it. By the end of a month, you will probably have it completely memorized. Also, see page 63 in your Handbook on how to pronounce the three W's (and other Lenni Lenape words you should know).
The Song can be found in your OA Handbook on page 13. It would be wonderful if you were able to sing it when you attend your Brotherhood weekend. However, we realize that many scouts and scouters cannot carry a tune in a bucket, so you will be asked to recite the words, not sing the song (unless you want to).
The Handclasp, the sign of the Ordeal, and the Admonition are not printed in your Handbook. That is because these are the three signs that can be used to recognize someone who is a member of the Order of the Arrow. If you do not remember these from your Ordeal ceremony (and many people don't), there are two ways that you can learn them. First, come to any chapter or lodge event, and we will be happy to review them with you. Second, you can find them at the National OA website in a special area intended for new members called Jumpstart. Jumpstart includes information about the Ordeal induction sequence and ceremonies, including the recognition signs. Go to the Brotherhood tab, then Challenges, for the information you need. You will need a password to enter the site. The instructions on where to find the password are on the Jumpstart page.
The Jumpstart website mentioned above is a great place to learn more about the Ordeal induction sequence, from your election through the Ordeal ceremony and all the parts in between. You can also find quite a bit of information in your OA Handbook. The section 'The Customs and Traditions of the Ordeal' on pages 52-54 covers a lot of it. You may also want to look at pages 10-12 and 23-30, which explain the sequence and reasons for the parts of the induction, both from the point of view of the candidate and the current OA members who conducted the process. (In fact, it wouldn't hurt to just go ahead and read your whole Handbook.)
The one thing that we will expect you to do is be able to explain the Legend in your own words. The Legend is presented during the Ordeal ceremony and describes the principles on which the Order of the Arrow is founded. A very brief summary can be found on page 53 of the Handbook. It is better if you can find a copy of the full text of the Legend, so that you gain a deeper understanding of its meaning. Attend a chapter or lodge event to find out how to get the full text.
The Order of the Arrow is not a separate organization within Scouting. The OA is intended to be an integral part of every troop and team, supporting those units and recognizing those scouts who best exemplify its principles. This means that becoming a member of the Order of the Arrow does not take you away from your troop. Quite the contrary. Arrowmen are expected to render even more service than before to their troops. One of the ceremonial preparations as you entered the Ordeal ceremony ring was a symbol of your intention to return to your unit and provide service (page 53 tells you what it was).
What does this mean when it comes to becoming a Brotherhood member? First, you will need to spend at least 10 months as an Ordeal member before you are able to undertake your Brotherhood. During this time, you need to remain a registered and active member of your troop. You should be serving as a leader in your troop, both by holding a leadership position if possible and by serving as an example for other scouts. You should be encouraging camping, both weekend camps and summer camp, and should be passing along your camping knowledge to those who need it. You should also look for opportunities to help with or lead service projects in your community.
As part of your Brotherhood induction, you will be writing a letter that explains among other things what you have been doing in your troop since becoming an Ordeal member. Make sure that you have something to write there other than just 'I went to most of the meetings.'
In addition to serving your troop or team, you should also begin thinking of ways that you can serve the lodge. There are many opportunities. The lodge is run by youth (under the age of 21), as are each of the chapters. This means that there are several officer positions that need to be filled at both of these levels. The lodge also has several different committees that need both leadership and support. Perhaps you are interested in serving on one of the ceremonies teams, or can help out at an Ordeal weekend as an Elangomat, in the kitchen, or elsewhere. We always need help with running unit OA elections and camp promotions. If you have in interest in Native American culture you could join a dance team or help with the Indian Awareness committee. There are dozens of different possibilities, but the most important first step is to show up! Attend chapter meetings to find out what is going on, and attend lodge functions to help out however you can. We will be happy to discuss possible ways to serve the lodge. Again, you will need to include specific ideas on what you might like to do in the letter you write prior to your Brotherhood weekend.
One of the last things you will do before attending your Brotherhood weekend is to write a letter to the lodge Brotherhood chairman explaining three things: what the Obligation means to you; how you have served your unit since becoming an Ordeal member and how you have lived up to the Obligation in your unit and in your daily life; and specific ways you intend to serve the lodge in the future. Naturally, you can also mention ways in which you have already started to serve the lodge, or plans you have for providing additional service to your unit in the future. The purpose of the letter is to help you gather your thoughs and reflect on what the Order of the Arrow means to you. Taking your Brotherhood seals your membership in the Order of the Arrow, and we want to be sure you understand what that means. There is no minimum (or maximum) length the letter must be. Write the letter in advance and bring it with you to your Brotherhood weekend; you do not need to mail it.
The last step in becoming a Brotherhood member is to attend a Brotherhood weekend. These are offered in conjunction with the Ordeal weekends, as well as the lodge spring and fall fellowships and the Section Conclave. Regardless of when you decide to take your Brotherhood, there are a few things that help significantly if done in advance. First, please pre-register for the weekend, so that we are sure to have enough new sashes available. Also, your OA dues must be current before you can take your Brotherhood, so be sure those are paid in advance or bring the money with you to the weekend. Second, make sure you have met all of the requirements (including 10 months as an Ordeal member), write your letter in advance, and bring it with you. Third, please also bring your OA Handbook and Ordeal sash with you to the weekend, and of course come with your complete scout uniform.
Some people feel that they have not done anything since taking their Ordeal, so they do not deserve to take their Brotherhood. They are always wrong. There are no minimums of leadership or service that you have to meet. Even if you have not held a leadership position in your troop, helped with any service projects, or attended any OA events, you can (and should) still take your Brotherhood. While we encourage you to reflect on what you have already done, your main focus should be on what you will do in the future. You will have many oportunities for leadership and service after becoming a Brotherhood member.
Feel free to contact the Tendeuchen Chapter Advisor, Aaron Wyckoff, at 614-406-8080 or by e-mail at email@example.com, or come to any chapter meeting or lodge event.
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This page is maintained by Aaron Wyckoff. Last updated January 3, 2009.