By Michael W. Michelsen Jr.
To Zac Shouse, chief of the Grand Canyon Council's Order of the Arrow Wipala Wiki Lodge, "It's All About Service" seemed a logical choice for a program theme for 2000. It reflected a tradition that has helped the lodge earn national Quality Lodge status four consecutive years and, in 1999, capture two prestigious national OA honors. And it reflected the impact of the Order of the Arrow's new national strategic plan, which emphasizes greater service to Scouting.
The Wipala Wiki Lodge represents a large, demographically diverse area with many opportunities for service. Its membership includes almost 2,000 active Arrowmen in 16 chapters, in districts from metropolitan Phoenix to the rural reservations of the Navajo and Hopi nations.
"The Order of the Arrow has always been about service," Zac Shouse said. "But prior to the implementation of the new OA strategic plan, the efforts of our lodge were concentrated mainly in individual chapters and not directed at the council."
The result was "kind of a shotgun approach" to service, he explained. "The job was getting done, but not as effectively or as efficiently as it could have been. Our resources, in terms of manpower and finances, were divided."
The new plan's emphasis on service "not only validates what we were already trying to accomplish with our program, but it gave our lodge and our service efforts a new focus," Shouse explained. "A lot of our recent successes are the result of the vision the plan gave us as well as how we implemented it."
The new strategic plan's vision is for the Order of the Arrow to be "recognized as Scouting's National Honor Society and an integral part of every council."
The plan calls for OA members to assist their local councils in helping young people better understand and live the Scout Oath and Law, with greater focus on leadership development, membership extension, adventurous programming, and broader service to Scouting and the community.
The council's adult OA leadership says the strategic plan has helped an outstanding lodge become even better.
"The national strategic plan, along with the way we implemented it, did a good job of addressing a lot of important issues," said C. E. (Chuck) Magley, Wipala Wiki Lodge's adviser. "The plan really gave our lodge the bigger picture of what Scouting is about and what it can accomplish."
"Training young men how to be effective leaders and giving them the opportunities they need to develop those skills is an important element in the success of Scouting," said E. Earl (Sonny) Hays, Scout executive for the Grand Canyon Council. "We want OA members to develop their leadership skills, which is why we are careful to make leadership training a joint effort between the best boys in the program and mature, experienced Scouters who are very dedicated to the program."
Developing more capable youth leaders helps individual Scouts and makes troops run better, Chuck Magley noted. The OA "taking a more active role in the council is a blueprint for a better council."
"In the past, some Scoutmasters worried that Scouts being actively involved in Order of the Arrow lodge activities could result in a serious drain on troop junior leadership," said Larry Johnson, the council's past lodge adviser.
"They were concerned that once a Scout was elected to the OA and passed his Ordeal, he would either make the lodge program his primary Scouting function, or he would leave Scouting altogether. That concern was a problem that we needed to change."
New lodge members now pledge their commitment to upholding the ideals of Scouting and the Order of the Arrow and to return to their unit in order to pass on to younger Scouts what they have learned about camping, leadership, and advancement. This is considered the first step toward Brotherhood membership (the second and final induction phase of OA membership, achieved after a minimum of 10 months' Ordeal membership service).
"This new program has resulted in an increase in lodge membership of more than 300 members over four years, as well as a 32 percent increase in the number of Arrowmen becoming Brotherhood members," said Johnson. "Scoutmasters have also become much more receptive to the OA program as a result of the new strategic plan."
Members of the Wipala Wiki Lodge pride themselves on a strong service orientation. In their award-winning year of 1999, the lodge carried out more than 127,000 man-hours in service projects.
Their projects involve many areas of Scouting. For example, in 2000 a weeklong Trail to Eagle program was staffed by five youth OA members serving as merit badge instructors, while 18 adult leaders worked as counselors. This course allowed 76 Scouts to earn merit badges needed for their Eagle award.
"This program resulted in better boys returning to their units," said Chuck Magley. "It worked so well that next year we are going to keep the same number of participating Scouts, to maintain the same level of results that we enjoyed this year."
Other activities include an extensive schedule of Ordeal ceremonies, camporees, Scoutoramas, neighborhood cleanups, food and toy drives, landscaping renovations, Halloween safety programs, and coping programs for teenagers. The lodge requires detailed reporting and records for service projects in order to monitor progress, as well as to provide next year's leaders with important information about what was accomplished.
"If councils will commit themselves to the ideals of the new strategic plan, the OA can rise to a new level of importance in Scouting," said Sonny Hays. "It's easy to see why, because Arrowmen represent the creme de la creme of Scoutingmore than 35 percent of our lodge membership are Eagle Scouts. Blend those resources with quality adult leadership, and the Scouting program can only win."
Freelance writer Michael W. Michelsen Jr. is an Eagle Scout and a Brotherhood member of the Order of the Arrow.
Challenging Summer Wilderness Programs Available to Arrowmen
Order of the Arrow members can participate in special wilderness programs at two national high adventure bases this summer.
Northern Tier Wilderness Voyages
Under the direction of the U.S. Forest Service, Charles L. Sommers National High Adventure Base staff with strong OA backgrounds will lead participants on a two-week voyage into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
Half the trip involves vigorous portage trail and campsite maintenance work. The other half consists of a canoeing adventure planned by the participants. In addition to maintaining portage trails, Scouts will strengthen their leadership skills, learn low-impact camping skills and techniques, participate in motivational activities, and receive special OA instruction.
Cost: $100. Dates: June 12-25; June 19-July 2; June 26-July 9; July 3-16; July 10-23; July 17-30; July 24-Aug. 6; July 31-Aug. 13; Aug. 7-20.
Philmont Trail Crew 2001
Philmont Scout Ranch staff lead participants on a two-week trail crew and trek. The first week focuses on trail construction and maintenance, followed by a seven-day backpacking trek planned by participants.
Scouts learn trail building techniques, strengthen leadership skills, learn low-impact camping skills, observe and participate in group wilderness safety and motivation activities, and receive special OA instruction.
Cost: $100. Dates: June 10-24; June 17-July 1; June 24-July 8; July 1-July 15; July 8-22; July 15-29; July 22-Aug. 8; July 29-Aug 12; Aug. 5-19.
Applications for both of the programs are available online at http://www.oa-bsa.org. They must be approved by both the council Scout executive and lodge adviser before being mailed to Order of the Arrow, Boy Scouts of America, 1325 W. Walnut Hill Ln., P.O. Box 152079, Irving, TX 75015-2079.
Phoenix OA Lodge Wins Double Honors for Service And Camping Promotion
In 1999 the Grand Canyon Council's Wipala Wiki Lodge had the distinction of receiving two national Order of the Arrow awards.
Each award goes to eight lodges, two from each of the BSA's four regions.
A New Vision, Strategy, and Action
Since its beginning in 1915, the Order of the Arrow has been known as Scouting's "Brotherhood of Honor Campers." Members are elected by their fellow unit members as best exemplifying the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives.
Dedicated to the principles of brotherhood, cheerfulness, and service, and working through individual lodges in each of the BSA's more than 300 local councils, Arrowmen conduct projects and programs in support of what has long been the OA's official stated purpose: developing camping traditions and spirit and promoting Scout camping at the unit, district, and council levels.
In 1998 the national leadership of the Order of the Arrow unveiled "Toward a Second Century of Service: The Order of the Arrow's Vision, Strategy, and Actions for Greater Service to Scouting in the 21st Century."
It urges Arrowmen to "expand our reach beyond camping to include greater focus on leadership development, membership extension, adventurous programming, and broader service to Scouting and the community."
'We intend to do more ...'
The plan defined a new OA vision: "To be recognized as Scouting's National Honor Society and an integral part of every council. Our service, activities, adventures, and training for youth and adults are models of quality leadership development and programming that enrich, support, and help extend Scouting to America's youth."
To achieve this vision, the plan calls for the OA "to dramatically increase the level of service we provide to councils and to the national organization. We intend to do more, much more, to help the Boy Scouts of America fulfill its mission to serve our nation's youth."
Areas for action
Below are some specific actions outlined in the new strategic plan that OA lodges will take to achieve their new goals:
Leadership development. Increase the number of OA National Leadership Seminars, making that traditional training available to more Arrowmen.
Membership extension. Resources will be provided to help lodges mount public relations campaigns conveying the positive attributes of Scouting. Lodges will provide greater support of Webelos-to-Scout transition activities.
Adventurous programming. An expanded support of camping will include financial grants to local council outdoor programs, more special programs for Arrowmen at national high adventure bases, and increased support for district and council outdoor programs for Cub Scouting.
Broader service to Scouting and the community. Examples include an effort to "mentor Scout troops, helping them to develop better-quality and more creative programs" and "develop and give leadership to significant national, council, and local community service projects."
Some first steps
One of the first steps in the new OA strategy was the creation of the troop and team junior leader position of Order of the Arrow troop or team representative. The Arrowman in this position serves as a communication link between the unit and the local OA lodge or chapter; he also promotes camping and high adventure activities in the unit and encourages Arrowmen to participate in unit leadership.
Also new is the Order of the Arrow Scoutreach Mentoring Program, a joint effort by the OA and the BSA national Scoutreach Division to help urban and rural Scout troops improve their camping and advancement programs.
Arrowmen qualify for the OA Scoutreach Mentor Award by working with unit leaders of urban and rural troops to improve camping and advancement programs, while also serving as a guide and role model for their Scouts, helping them achieve First Class rank and earn the Camping merit badge.
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