BILL CHIN FIRST EXPERIENCED the Order of the Arrow as a Cub Scout. His pack attended a camporee where the local OA dance team performed, and he was hooked. Chin went on to become an Eagle Scout and a Vigil Honor member of the OA. He served as a lodge chief and section officer as a youth, and then as a lodge and section adviser as an adult.
The OA is not the only place he serves, though. He’s vice president of membership for his home council and is active with the Strike 3 Foundation, an organization founded by major-league pitcher (and friend) Craig Breslow to support childhood cancer research.
How has the OA changed since you were inducted? Over the past 10 or 15 years, there’s been a focus on leadership and leadership training. National Leadership Seminar is one of the best youth-training seminars around.
Of course, national-level OA service projects have emphasized cheerful service more than ever. Cheerful service is one of our core principles, and we haven’t forgotten that. We teach our Arrowmen to give unselfishly and help other people. I think if you’re in the program long enough, giving cheerfully of yourself just becomes a part of who you are. These national service projects show that what we’re doing for ourselves locally can be applied to a new challenge and benefit society.
It’s all about leaving a legacy, right? Yes, we’re encouraging Scouts to do what they can to leave their legacy on the Scouting program and improve things for the future.
Talk a little about the ceremonial side of the OA. What drew you to that? A bunch of guys from my troop were involved in ceremonies, so I got involved, too. I’ve been heavily involved in ceremonies on the national level for the past 12 years. If you start studying the ceremonies, they have a really powerful message. They teach you lessons that can be applied in different ways, in different settings, and at different stages of your life.
OA lodges seem especially good at giving Scouts real leadership responsibility. Why? It has a lot to do with the quality of kids involved. The OA is Scouting’s national honor society, so the Scouts are the best of the best—the kids are sharp, they know how to lead, and they are more experienced. In the troop, they were senior patrol leader or patrol leader or quartermaster, and they take those skills to the OA, where they have additional leadership opportunities.
What’s the secret to making youth leaders successful? You support their vision. You work with them to set goals early. You follow up with them throughout the year. You don’t try to hamper their desires.
Give me an example of a youth leader accomplishing something great. When I was lodge adviser, we were planning for ArrowCorps5. My lodge chief wanted us to be a trailblazer lodge, which meant you had to send a certain amount of participants based on the size of your lodge. We had 25 people as our quota, but we sent 33 participants from our lodge. We were one of the 10 largest contingents in the country.
How did you help make your lodge chief successful? We supported the vision set by our chief. He was really excited about it, which helped. He was motivated to reach our goal. It kind of snowballed.
Compare what the troop and the OA can offer an older Scout. The OA offers opportunities that you can’t find in the troop. The troop program focuses a lot on advancement and passing on the knowledge you’ve gained by teaching the younger Scouts skills that were originally taught to you as a young Scout. The OA provides new challenges for older Scouts and offers the opportunity to interact with kids your age and meet people from the council and beyond.
What does the OA offer the troop? I’d love to see lodges and chapters get more involved with troops, such as building a relationship where an Arrowman could go teach a skill like outdoor cooking or conservation at the troop meeting.
FACT SHEET: BILL CHIN
Years as a Scout Leader: 15
Current City: Trumbull, Conn.
Current Positions: Order of the Arrow section adviser (NE-2A); member, Northeast Region Area 2 Committee; member, national Order of the Arrow subcommittee for inductions and ceremonial events; council vice president of membership, Connecticut Yankee Council
Day Job: Director of information technology for the Town of Trumbull
Favorite Camp: Camp Pomperaug in Union, Conn. That’s where I was inducted into the OA, and that’s where I spent a lot of my early years in the program.
Proudest Moment in Scouting: When I earned Eagle Scout. It’s something I’ve come to appreciate more and more as I’ve gotten older.
Read more inspiring advice from other leaders in the “What I’ve Learned” category.