Scouting magazine

Learn more about the OA’s sashes and what they represent

The Order of the Arrow is Scouting’s national honor society. Founded 100 years ago, it recognizes Scouts and Scouters who best exemplify Scouting values in their daily lives.

Arrowmen are easily identified by the lodge flaps on their right uniform pockets and by the white sashes they wear to OA events. Here’s a guide to those sashes.

WHY DO ARROWMEN WEAR DIFFERENT SASHES? The sashes represent the three membership levels in the OA. The Ordeal sash (No. 2167; long, No. 2168) features a red arrow on a white background. The Brotherhood sash (No. 2169; long, No. 2170) adds red bars above and below the arrow. The Vigil Honor sash (No. 2165; long, No. 2166) adds a red triangle in the middle of the arrow.

HOW DOES SOMEONE BECOME AN ORDEAL MEMBER? Youth candidates are elected by their peers; they must be at least First Class in rank and have experienced 15 nights of Boy Scout camping while registered with a troop or team 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.

HOW DOES SOMEONE BECOME A BROTHERHOOD MEMBER? After serving 10 months and fulfilling other requirements, a member may take part in the Brotherhood ceremony, which places further emphasis on the ideals of Scouting and the Order. Completion signifies full membership.

HOW DOES SOMEONE BECOME A VIGIL HONOR MEMBER? After two years of exceptional service as a Brotherhood member, and with the approval of the national Order of the Arrow committee, Scouts and Scouters may be recognized with the Vigil Honor. This honor is limited to one person for every 50 lodge members.

WHEN MAY OA SASHES BE WORN? Arrowmen wear their sashes when attending OA ceremonies and events or conducting official OA business. Lodge meetings, section conclaves and unit elections are appropriate times to wear the sash; troop meetings and courts of honor generally are not.

HOW ARE OA SASHES WORN? OA sashes are worn over the right shoulder (under the epaulet). They are never worn folded over the belt and are never worn with a merit badge sash.

WHAT OTHER UNIFORM ITEMS SHOW MEMBERSHIP IN THE ORDER? The most familiar item is the lodge flap, which is worn on the flap of the right uniform pocket. Arrowmen can also wear the Order of the Arrow membership emblem (No. 604942), a ribbon and pendant that hangs from the right pocket flap. Vigil Honor members can add the Vigil Honor pin (No. 604944) to that emblem.

I’VE SEEN EMBROIDERED OA SASHES. ARE THOSE APPROVED FOR UNIFORM WEAR? “Legend strips” and “sash backs” are not official.

I’VE SEEN OA SASHES WITH THE COLORS REVERSED. WHAT DO THOSE SIGNIFY? On a handful of occasions, the OA has produced commemorative sashes. Participants in this year’s National Order of the Arrow Conference received a sash with a white arrow on a red background. The inverted sash was approved for wear only at the 2015 NOAC.