About the Order of the Arrow


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 was recognized as the BSA’s national brotherhood of honor campers and became an official part of the Boy Scouts of America.

In 1998, the Order of the Arrow was recognized as Scouting’s National Honor Society when it expanded its reach beyond camping to include a greater focus on leadership development, membership extension, adventurous programming, and broader service to Scouting and the community. Today the Order’s service, activities, adventures, and training for youth and adults are models of quality leadership development and cheerful service that enrich, support, and help extend Scouting to America’s youth.


The OA has over 180,000 members located in lodges affiliated with 310 local BSA councils.


To become a member, a youth must be a registered Boy Scout or Varsity Scout and hold the First Class rank. He must have experienced 15 days and nights of Boy Scout camping during the two-year period prior to election. The 15 days and nights must include one, but no more than one, long-term camp consisting of six consecutive days and five nights of resident camping, approved and under the auspices and standards of the BSA. The balance of the camping must be overnight, weekend, or other short-term camps. Following approval by the Scoutmaster, Scouts are elected to seek membership in the Order by their fellow unit members. After completing an Ordeal experience, they become members of the Order of the Arrow.

The induction process, known as the Ordeal, is the first step toward full membership in the OA. During this period the member is expected to strengthen his involvement in the unit and encourage Scout camping.

After 10 months of service as an Ordeal member and after fulfilling certain requirements, a member may take part in the Brotherhood ceremony, which places further emphasis on the ideals of Scouting and the Order. Completion of this ceremony signifies full membership in the Order of the Arrow.

After two years of service as a Brotherhood member, and with the approval of the National Order of the Arrow Committee, a youth or adult Arrowman or woman may be selected to be recognized with the Vigil Honor for outstanding service to Scouting, their lodge, or the Order of the Arrow. This honor is limited to not more than one Arrowman for every 50 members registered with the lodge each year. Please use this form to submit a Vigil nomination.

An Order of the Arrow lodge is granted a charter from the National Council, BSA, upon annual application by the lodge’s council. The OA lodge helps the local council provide a quality Scouting program through recognition of Scouting spirit and performance, youth leadership development, adventurous programming, financial support, and enhanced membership tenure. The Northeast Illinois Council is part of Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan Lodge 40.

An Order of the Arrow section consists of lodges within a geographic area of the region. Once each year, representatives of the lodges in the section come together for a conclave to share in fellowship, program ideas, training, and skills development. In addition, the section creates a monitoring/mentoring relationship with its lodges, provides leadership development opportunities, fosters understanding and adherence to national OA policies and procedures, and coordinates OA administrative and program functions. The section key three leadership consists of the section chief, section adviser, and section staff adviser.

The region chief is the youth leader of the region elected by the section chiefs for one year. This election is held in conjunction with the annual OA planning meeting where the national chief and national vice chief are also elected by the section chiefs and the next year’s program of emphasis is planned. The region Order of the Arrow chairman and professional staff adviser are adults appointed by the region director.

The national chief and national vice chief serve as the top youth leaders of the Order, responsible not only for providing youth leadership to the national program of emphasis, but serving with the four region chiefs, on the national committee to provide youth involvement in decisions affecting the program nationally. These national officers also oversee the national leadership seminars.

The national Order of the Arrow Committee is the group of veteran Arrowmen, appointed by the National OA Chairman, to oversee the national OA program. The professional adviser is the OA Director, a staff member of the national Boy Scout Division.