Ginny Conway’s Scouting journey started when she became a Brownie in third grade.
She remained involved through high school, earning Girl Scouting’s highest rank, serving on camp staff and taking a trip to Our Cabaña, a Girl Scout World Center in Mexico.
Her family became involved in Cub Scouting through her older son, Craig, 15 years ago. She became a leader when her younger son, Scott, joined as a Tiger; she followed him to Boy Scouting and then founded a Venturing crew. Ginny found her calling in 2010 when she was nominated for membership in the Order of the Arrow and began advising her OA troop representative. Her goal: to have her troop take full advantage of all the OA had to offer.
Since then, the troop has produced lodge and section officers, earned the OA Unit of Excellence Award and had Scouts participate in OA high adventure, attend the National Order of the Arrow Conference, and become Vigil Honor members and Founders Award recipients. What’s more, the troop’s Eagle Scouts are now staying in Scouting beyond age 18.
Why did you want to get involved in the Order of the Arrow?
I was inspired by a Scout in a neighboring troop who had participated in OA high adventure and held several leadership positions in the Order. It made a significant difference in his life, and he kept urging me to become a member. Also, our troop needed to do something to keep all the 15-year-old Eagle Scouts from dropping out, and we thought the OA may be a way to keep them in Scouting.
How did you change the OA’s status within your troop?
To help our youth OA members do more than just get their sash, I clarified the OA troop representative position for our troop. Our OA troop representative began attending chapter meetings and converted to Brotherhood [the process of sealing membership in the Order]. In 2011, I went with my son and another Scout to SummitCorps, an OA event, which was highlighted at a troop awards ceremony. I also began sending troop emails to promote OA events, congratulate new Ordeal and Brotherhood members, and explain the significance of their OA service.
You also started using two OA troop representatives. How does that work?
We’ve been using a pair of representatives since 2012, and it has worked very well. We usually have a Scout who’s already a Brotherhood member, and another who’s an Ordeal member and is planning to convert to Brotherhood. One attends lodge executive committee meetings; the other attends chapter meetings. Scouts motivate youth to participate in events, and I communicate with parents regarding logistics and benefits.
What does the OA offer your Scouts?
It’s an opportunity for fun, fellowship and service. There are also leadership and training experiences, national and regional events, unique service projects, high-adventure treks and the ability to meet Scouts from across the world.
And how does the troop benefit?
We have kept older Scouts in the program. We have stronger youth leaders because of the training they have received and their leadership roles in the OA. The youth have a deeper understanding of what boy-led is because they are living it as Arrowmen.
How do you manage schedule conflicts between the troop and the OA?
Our troop calendar is set early in the Scouting year, taking the council and lodge calendars into account. Where there are options, we don’t schedule troop events on top of major lodge events, and one Ordeal weekend is always kept open.
What happens when Scouts have to choose?
There is an expectation that the unit comes first, except for those youth in major OA leadership roles. When one of my youth was lodge chief, it was clearly understood that his OA obligations had to come before the unit.
Tell us about one of your success stories.
One Scout planned on leaving Scouting once he became an Eagle Scout. When he reached Eagle at 14, he was OA troop representative and stayed solely because of that obligation. He went on to become lodge chief, junior assistant Scoutmaster and now, as a college freshman, our conclave vice chief. The sweetest moment of all? He inspired his grandfather to do his Brotherhood after 66 years.
Years as a Scout Volunteer: 13
Current City: Buffalo, N.Y.
Current Positions: Advisor, Crew 457; assistant Scoutmaster, Troop 457; 2017 Section NE-3A Conclave vice chief advisor, Ho-de-no-sau-nee Lodge; assistant Scoutmaster, 2013 and 2017 National Jamborees; Member, NE Area 3 Camp Accreditation Team
Day Job: Retired certified management accountant
Proudest Moment in Scouting: Humbled by her summer spent as an OA Vigil Honor candidate, when she was supported by more than 150 Scouts and Scouters and given a Vigil name that translates as “Mother to Many Boys.”
Favorite Camps: Schoellkopf Scout Reservation, Cowlesville, N.Y., home of her OA chapter and Vigil site, and Camp Gorton, Dundee, N.Y., the site of many Troop 457 summer-camp and trail-building experiences.