Order of the Arrow

Egwa Tawa Dee Lodge website

National OA website

What is the Order of the Arrow?

The Order of the Arrow (OA) is 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


When was the OA founded?

Dr. E. Urner Goodman and Caroll A. Edson founded the OA during the summer of 1915 at the Treasure Island Camp of the Philadelphia Council.  It wasn't until 1934 that the OA was approved as a part of the Boy Scouting Program.  Fourteen years later, in 1948, the Boy Scouts of America's National Brotherhood of Honor Campers, became an official part of the national camping program of the Boy Scouts of America.  Currently, the Order of the Arrow boasts 176,000 members organized in lodges associated in approximately 327 BSA local councils.


How do you join the OA?

Unlike many organizations where new members are selected by those who are already members of the organization, eligible Scouts are elected as candidates for membership by the other Scouts in their own Scouts BSA Troop, Venturing Crew or Sea Scout Ship.  To be eligible for election, youth members of a unit (and in the OA a youth is anyone who is between 11 and 21 years of age), must

  • Be a registered member of the Boy Scouts of America.
  • Have experienced 15 nights of Scout camping while registered with a troop, crew, or ship within the two years immediately prior to the election. The 15 nights must include one, but no more than one, long-term camp consisting of at least five consecutive nights of overnight camping, approved and under the auspices and standards of the Boy Scouts of America. Only five nights of the long-term camp may be credited toward the 15-night camping requirement; the balance of the camping (10 nights) must be overnight, weekend, or other short-term camps of, at most, three nights each. Ship nights may be counted as camping for Sea Scouts.
  • At the time of their election, hold one of the following ranks corresponding to the type unit in which they are being considered for election: Scouts BSA First Class rank, the Venturing Discovery Award, or the Sea Scout Ordinary rank or higher, and
  • Be approved by the Scoutmaster, Crew Advisor or Sea Scout Skipper, be elected by the youth members of their unit.

The unit committee of a unit that holds an OA election and elects at least one youth candidate, may nominate qualified adults as candidates.  A qualified adult is one who meets the same camping requirements as youth candidates.  Unit nominations are submitted to the Lodge where they are reviewed by the Adult Selection Committee.  Adult selection is based on their ability to perform the necessary functions to help the Order fulfill its purpose and is not for recognition.  Selected adult Scout Leaders must be an asset to the Order because of demonstrated abilities and provide a positive role model for the youth members of the OA Lodge.  The recommendations of the Adult Selection Committee are submitted to the Council Executive who must approve all adult candidates.

Scouts who are elected as candidates, and adults who are selected as candidates, must complete the induction ceremony, known as the Ordeal, to become members of the Order of the Arrow.  During the experience, candidates maintain silence, receive small amounts of food, work on camp improvement projects, and sleep apart from other campers. The entire experience is designed to teach significant values.


What does the OA teach?

The Order of the Arrow strives to teach leadership traits Scouts can bring back to serve their unit.  While the first duty of a member of the OA is to their Scout unit, the OA offers additional leadership opportunities to youth members by being a youth led organization.  Active youth members serve as leaders at the district, council, region, and national level and can participate in a wide range of fun and challenging events.   However, OA events are designed to supplement, not replace, unit activities.  The OA Lodge’s activities are Council activities and publicized in the Council’s Annual Program Planning Guide. 


Does the Atlanta Area Council have a Lodge?

The Atlanta Area Council Lodge, Egwa Tawa Dee has been part of the Council's camping program since the 1930s.  Thousands of Scout and Leaders have been members of the Atlanta OA Lodge.  To learn about the Lodge history, its leadership, and its service to the Council, please visit the Lodge's website at https://aacegwa.org/


I was a member of the OA in another Council.  How do I rejoin the OA.

Once a Scout goes through the Ordeal, he is a member of the Order of the Arrow for life, provided that he or she remains registered with the BSA.   If you were a member of the OA in another Council and are a registered member of the BSA in the Atlanta Area Council, you can become active by sending an email to the Lodge Secretary at secretary@aacegwa.org and paying the current year’s dues at https://aacegwa.org/pay-your-dues/.