Honors and awards of the Order of the Arrow

From ScoutWiki, For Everyone, Everywhere involved with Scouting and Guiding...
Jump to navigation Jump to search

It is important to distinguish between awards, honors, and membership levels in the Order of the Arrow – the honor camping society of the Boy Scouts of America. The Founder's Award, the Red Arrow Award and the Distinguished Service Award are all awards. Any of the awards of the Order of the Arrow may be presented to an individual regardless of which membership level he or she has achieved. Honor is only used in reference to the Vigil Honor. The two membership levels of the OA are Ordeal and Brotherhood.

Membership and honors

Originally, the ceremonies for Ordeal members and Brotherhood members were combined into what was called the First Degree, and what is now known as the Vigil Honor was then referred to as the Second Degree. It was later called the Third Degree, after the First Degree became separated into the First Degree and the Second Degree-- these levels of membership developed into the Ordeal Honor and Brotherhood Honor, respectively, and then simply the Ordeal and Brotherhood levels of membership.


Ordeal membership is the first level of membership in the OA, which is bestowed after a candidate passes their Ordeal. The Ordeal, often conducted at a Scout camp, tests the candidates' devotion to the Order's principles by introducing the candidates to hardship. Unlike many organizations, Ordeal members are full members of their local lodge as well as the OA. Ordeal memberships have full rights and privileges in their lodge. The Ordeal Level is shown by a white sash with a red arrow pointing upward over the right shoulder.


When a member completes their Brotherhood, they "seal" their membership in the Order, by accepting an additional obligation of service to their lodge, council, or scout camp.

Brotherhood membership is the second level of membership in the OA. After a minimum of ten months, an Ordeal member may "seal" their membership in the Order by accepting an additional obligation of service to their lodge, council, or scout camp.

An Ordeal member must complete the following requirements to obtain Brotherhood membership:

  1. Know the signs of Order of the Arrow Membership. Memorize the Obligation of the Order, the Order of the Arrow Official Song, the Admonition, sign of Ordeal Membership, and the Arrow Handclasp.
  2. Advance in your understanding of the Ordeal. Gain an understanding of the Ordeal you have passed.
  3. Serve your unit. Retain your membership in Scouting. During a period of at least 10 months, strive to fulfill your Obligation by continuing and expanding your service to your own troop or team.
  4. Plan for service in your lodge. Retain your registration in your Order of the Arrow lodge and keep your dues paid. Be aware that acceptance of Brotherhood membership involves a pledge of service to the lodge. Develop a concrete idea of how you plan to fulfill this pledge.
  5. Review your progress. When you earnestly feel that you have met the four challenges above, write a letter to your lodge secretary. Be sure to include the following:
  1. Explain what you think the Obligation means
  2. Describe how you have been fulfilling this Obligation in your troop or team and in your daily life, and how you have used your understanding of the Ordeal to aid in this service
  3. A description of your specific plans for giving service in the lodge program

The Brotherhood Level is similar to the Ordeal sash but add a red bar just beyond each tip of the arrow.

Vigil Honor

The Vigil Honor is the Order's highest honor presented to a member by the lodge. The honor is bestowed by special election from a group of peers within the Order upon an individual recognizing exceptional service after a minimum of two years as a Brotherhood member. Vigil members may be identified by the triangle imprinted on their sash, in addition to the Arrow of the Ordeal sash and the bars of the Brotherhood sash. Some lodges also supply a special Vigil Honor flap, although this practice is frowned upon by the National Committee of the OA. However, the Vigil Honor is not a third level of membership-- they are still a Brotherhood member, but one who has been bestowed with the Vigil Honor. The members are advanced to the Vigil Honor after completing their Vigil. The first Vigil Honor member was the founder of the Order of the Arrow, E. Urner Goodman.


Candidates to the Vigil Honor are selected by a committee composed of OA members ineligible for election, which meets in private. Committees must consist of non-vigil eligible youth in the Lodge, and may be a number set in the Lodge Bylaws. Some lodges restrict the Vigil Selection Committee to Vigil members, while other will allow experienced, but ineligible, Ordeal and Brotherhood members on the Committee. Lodges may only elect one out of every 50 active members each year to the Vigil Honor, although not all slots are always filled. At least 50% of candidates for the Vigil must be youth (under the age of 21). Each OA lodge in the country is allowed to select up to 2% of the eligible Brotherhood members for Vigil candidacy. Candidates for Vigil Honor membership must be actively registered in both a Scouting unit and in their lodge and are elected more for what they are expected to do, not what they have done. Candidates should not actively seek the Vigil; doing so is an indication that the candidate is undeserving of the honor.

Vigil name

After a Candidate has received the Vigil, he or she is bestowed with a Vigil Name. This name usually represents a characteristic of the individual that has made him or her well known to others. The name is usually given in the language of the Lenape (a Lenape-to-English dictionary, compiled by a German missionary, still in use to this day), although some Lodges may use languages of local tribes. Candidates are also usually provided with the English translation. Due to the difficulty of pronouncing and remembering the Delaware translation, many Vigil members only use the English translation when asked about their name. Names are usually serious (usually based on the Vigil candidate's history, hobbies, or other major aspect of his or her life), although they can be unintentionally humorous. It is customary in many lodges to convene a meeting of Vigil Brothers to discuss a name conferral that is in sync with the high honor that the Vigil denotes. If a Lodge utilizes the standard calling out ceremony; the sponsor is also agreed upon who will read out the biography of said candidate at the appropriate occasion. Call out biographies should be indicative of "why" the candidate was chosen. Jokes,monologues,mindless anecdotes all detract from what is regarded as a milestone in the Scouting journey of the candidate.

Awards within the Order

Like many of the awards given to members of the BSA, the Order of the Arrow can bestow awards to its members for distinguished service. There is a new award, The Lifetime Achievement Award, that has been presented to three Arrowman as of the 2006 National OA Conference. The Lifetime Achievement Award was first introduced at the 2002 NOAC and is the pinnacle of recognition for a lifetime of servant and cheerful leadership.

First awarded in 1940, the Order of the Arrow's National Distinguished Service Award, informally called the "DSA," is awarded to Arrowmen who have given dedicated, unselfish service at the National, Regional, and Sectional level. The Distinguished Service Award is presented every two years at the National Order of the Arrow Conference, and is one of the few awards in the B.S.A. that can be given to any member, including Professional Scouters. The award is a silver arrowhead, bisected by a diagonal arrow, and suspended from a white ribbon with small emboroidered red arrows.

Lifetime Achievement Award

The Legacy of Servant Leadership Lifetime Achievement Award was created by the National Order of the Arrow Committee in 2002 to recognize the Order's second and third generation "Founders" - Scouters who have built an enduring legacy to Scouting and the Order of the Arrow through a lifetime of cheerful service to others.

The award is intended to recognize only those extraordinary Arrowmen who have deeply influenced and significantly contributed to the vision, direction, and growth of the Order of the Arrow, faithfully demonstrated a lifetime of servant leadership, and, through their daily example, illuminated and reinforced the significance of the values found in the Scout Oath and Scout Law.

The prestige of the award requires the criteria be general in nature to allow members of the National Committee to exercise wisdom, flexibility, and discretion in the evaluation and selection of a worthy recipient. Although any past or present member of the Order of the Arrow may be nominated, a nominee must meet the following criteria:

  • Vigil Honor member;
  • National Distinguished Service Award (DSA) recipient;
  • Continued to render outstanding and dedicated service to the Order of the Arrow on a sectional, regional, or national level, since receiving the DSA; and
  • Member of the Order of the Arrow for a minimum of 25 years.

Nominations are made using the Lifetime Achievement Award Nomination Form, and must be received in the national office prior to October 31st of the year prior to a National Order of the Arrow Conference ("NOAC"). Nominations will be submitted to members of the Recognition & Awards Subcommittee for evaluation and recommendation to the National Committee. A nominee must be approved by 75% of the members of National Committee to receive the award. The award will be presented only at NOAC.

Given the nature and prestige of the award, it is recommended that no more than one recipient be recognized at a NOAC. The award recipient will be notified prior to the award ceremony. The award may not be presented posthumously.

In keeping with the nature of the award, the recognition is not to be a uniform piece, pin, ribbon, or other device, but will be a significant recognition suitable for display in the recipient's home or office. As of the 2006 NOAC, the honorees include:

2002 Thomas McBride Anicus Lodge Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania
2004 Carl M. Marchetti, M.D. Na Tsi Hi Lodge Ocean Township, New Jersey
2006 Dabney Kennedy Colonneh Lodge Houston, Texas

Distinguished Service Award

The Distinguished Service Award (DSA) is a service recognition award given by the Order of the Arrow (OA), an honorary society within the Boy Scouts of America. Created in 1940, the DSA recognizes those who rendered service to the Order beyond the lodge level. The award is presented to those Arrowmen who have rendered distinguished and outstanding service to the Order on a sectional, regional, or national basis. It is given over a period of years.

The first awards were presented at Camp Twin Echo, Pennsylvania, to E. Urner Goodman, Carroll A. Edson, and eight others at the 1940 national meeting. Between 1940 and the first national conference in 1948, the award was presented at national meetings as deserving individuals were found. Thereafter, the award presentation became a traditional part of the pageantry and ceremony of the national conference.

Since the time of the first awards in 1940, approximately 700 Distinguished Service Awards have been presented. This alone is a testament to its high standard of excellence. The award is a sterling silver arrowhead, bearing an arrow pointing upward and to the wearer's right, suspended from a white neck-ribbon upon which are embroidered red arrows (the first awards were suspended from a forest green ribbon – the current ribbon has been in use since the 1960s). A white square knot embroidered upon red cloth is available for uniform wear, and a miniature silver arrowhead lapel pin is available for civilian wear.

Presentation of the award is limited. Arrowmen whose service records are the most outstanding and extend farthest beyond others are usually selected. Nominations are open to both youth and adult Arrowmen. The Founders' Award, another award for unselfish service, is the lodge-level counterpart of the DSA.

Founder's Award

The Order of the Arrow Founder's Award was first introduced at the 1981 National Order of the Arrow Conference (NOAC), following the death of Dr. Goodman. This award honors Arrowmen in the Order of the Arrow (OA) for unselfish service above and beyond their normal duties to their lodge. Any lodge may present the award to up to two arrowmen annually; lodges with more than 1,000 members may present up to three awards, and lodges with more than 1,500 members may present up to four awards. No lodge may present more than four awards. If more than one Founder's Award is presented, at least one must be presented to a youth member under the age of 21. Lodges are not required to give the Founder's Award if they feel that no one is worthy of it. A member may only receive the award once in his or her lifetime. The award is a bronze medallion bearing the images of founder E. Urner Goodman, and cofounder Carroll A. Edson. The reverse of the medallion read "For he who serves his fellows, is of all his fellows, greatest" which was Goodman's prime reason for starting the Order of the Arrow. The recipient may also wear a red OA Pocket Device with a gold arrow, instead of the red and white one with a silver arrow. The recipient is also presented with a certificate detailing his name and lodge. Arrowman are nominated for this award with form No. 24-137, available on the National OA website.

Red Arrow Award

Another award, the Red Arrow Award, is similar in nature to the Distinguished Service Award, but unlike the more renowned award, the Red Arrow Award is given to non-members only. It was first awarded in 1970. Because some of those honored were women who have since joined the OA, (female Scouters too are now eligible to be nominated for membership), these are the only OA members who have received it.

E. Urner Goodman Camping Award

Each year, the National Council of the Order of the Arrow selects two lodges from each of the (currently four) regions to receive the E. Urner Goodman Camping Award. This award recongnizes lodges that have made outstanding contributions to promoting (and increasing) camping within their host council. Also considered is the number of Arrowmen who serve on their councils summer camp staff. The award was established in 1969. Currently, Octoraro Lodge #22, located at the Chester County Council in West Chester, Pennsylvania, is the only lodge in the Order of the Arrow to have earned five E. Urner Goodman Camping Awards; the most recent being in 1999.

E. Urner Goodman Scholarship Fund

The E. Urner Goodman Scholarship is awarded annually by the Boy Scouts of America to members of the Order of the Arrow who are preparing for a professional career in scouting. The scholarships are provided to help cover the financial costs of a college education. These Scholarships have been suspended by the National Order of the Arrow Committee.

National Service Award

Begun in 1999, the National Service Award recognises four Lodges each year whose service work is exemplary in both quality and quantity. The Lodge must petition for the award and show proof of their accomplishments, in addition to being certified a Quality Lodge for that year.


External links